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Six degrees

Rachael Barker

 

Elvis Presley (right) fans will congregate on Saturday at the United Services Recreation Club in Jordan to mark the 35th anniversary of "The King's" death. Despite not writing any of his 600 songs, Presley was by the age of 21 one of the most famous men on Earth and, by 1973, was the biggest individual taxpayer in the United States. Few would argue that the young singer's act (described by Frank Sinatra as a "rancid-smelling aphrodisiac") caused a sea change in popular culture before waning into garish caricature. One thing that did not change was Presley's generosity - he gave away so many cars his estate lost count of them. "The Pelvis" once swapped his diamond-encrusted watch for one with Mickey Mouse on the face with a speechless John Paul Jones …

Widely seen as the most reserved member of Led Zeppelin, Jones insists he "did more drugs than I care to remember. I just did it quietly". One event that continues to haunt him, however, occurred in New Orleans and involved a recently befriended transvestite, a couple of potent joints and a hotel room, that, in true rock 'n' roll style, he set fire to. Jones' long career has seen him work with the likes of Cat Stevens, Dusty Springfield, R.E.M and the Foo Fighters. Last year, Jones appeared onstage at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera about Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith …

The model-actress died in 2007, just months after her 20-year-old son dropped dead in the maternity ward where she had recently delivered her second child, the paternity of whom was swiftly debated. After her death, Smith's half-sister told the media that Anne Nicole had frozen the sperm of her deceased 90-year-old husband, suggesting the infant, Dannielynn, was the macabre offspring of the nonagenarian. Several parties claimed to be the girl's father, including photographer Larry Birkhead (who was telling the truth), bodyguard Alexander Denk (who wasn't) and the husband of 95-year-old Zsa Zsa Gabor, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt …

The German former masseur received his regal-sounding name in 1980, when, aged 41, he was adopted by Princess Marie-Auguste von Anhalt. The socialite himself has adopted numerous adults, each of whom got the royal moniker but little in the way of parenting. Von Anhalt dipped his toe into politics in 2010, with a platform promising the legalisation of gay marriage, marijuana and prostitution; the opening of the Mexican border; and an end to the ban on his favourite Cuban cigars. Von Anhalt's stab at power was aimed at replacing California "governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger …

When Schwarzenegger admitted to having fathered a love child with a maid more than 10 years earlier, Twitter humourists were thrilled. "Nobody believes Arnold could have kept this from [his wife] Maria Shriver for 10 years because that would have required acting," noted one observer while talk show host Jay Leno quipped, " Cowboys & Aliens is supposed to be the next big blockbuster. Doesn't that sound like a game Schwarzenegger would play with his maid?" Fortunately for Arnie, the story broke after the publication of Titans, a book by Al Satterwhite eulogising the rags-to-riches careers of Schwarzenegger and Muhammad Ali …

Born Cassius Clay, Ali has fought his way into the hearts of America, winning gold at the 1960 Olympics in Rome before coming under criticism for his refusal to participate in the Vietnam war. His comment, "No Viet Cong ever called me nigger," was seized upon by a fledgling anti-war civil rights movement. A devout Muslim, Ali was, however, superstitious, and after losing to Ken Norton in 1973 (one of only five losses in a 61-bout career) vowed never again to wear the US$10,000 "losing" robe emblazoned with "People's Champion" given to him by a rhinestone-clad Elvis Presley.

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