I'll never forget interviewing 'Little Elvis' 20 years ago. You might be surprised what he's doing now
Finn Harrison was beyond cute as he did the "Jailhouse Rock" as a 2 1/2 year old. Now he's all grown up, working at WDAY in Fargo and still has a little Elvis in his soul.
MOORHEAD — After nearly 35 years in the news business, some stories just stick with you. For me it’s 9/11, the Red River flood of 1997 and the 2 ½ year old Elvis impersonator.
Yes, you read that right.
Of course it’s easy to remember the major news events, but I also remember the day in August 2002 when I walked into Marguerite's Music in Moorhead to meet Finn Harrison, a toddler with all the moves and an Elvis Presley obsession worthy of a 1:30 package on the 6 o’clock news.
I mostly remember how adorable Finn was when he broke into “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog,” and even the way he left the room with a “Thank you, thank you very much.”
But, of course, life moved on. I left WDAY for my job at The Forum, where I did hundreds of other stories. But then one day earlier this summer, I received an email from a Forum Communications colleague and memories of little Elvis came rushing back like fans storming the stage.
I thought you might be interested in seeing this old story I found that you did at WDAY about 19-20 years ago! I showed it to Kevin, Dana, Kerstin and some of the other folks in the newsroom and they all seemed to really enjoy it!
What? That Finn Harrison? Toddler Elvis? You better believe it mamma.
Finn is now 22 and working as a videographer at WDAY (part of Forum Communications Co., along with The Forum). When he got the job at the station, his dad reminded him that it was WDAY who had done the story on him in 2002 on the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death.
Little Elvis then and now
“I hadn’t watched the VCR tape in 10 years,” he said. “It was in the basement tucked up in a shelf next to a bunch of Elvis tapes.”
He figured given his access to the right equipment at WDAY he could digitize the old VCR tape so his family could more easily save it. But when the video of him as little Elvis started playing on the monitor, his co-worker, reporter Kevin Wallevand, noticed and grabbed anchors Dana Mogck and Kerstin Kealy, who read the story on the newscast 20 years ago.
“Kevin was like, ‘You guys gotta see this!’" Finn said.
Kerstin Kealy picks up the story from here.
"They had us just watch without telling us why. Then all of a sudden we heard the first line in your story, 'While many moms might take their 2-year-olds to Toys R Us for a good time, Amy Harrison brings her son, Finn, to Marguerite's music.' When we heard 'Harrison' and 'Finn,' I think our mouths dropped to the floor," she said.
"They said, 'That's you?!'" Finn recalls with a laugh.
It’s pretty surreal for everyone involved.
"I think we oohed and aahed about how cute he was and those cool Elvis moves," Kerstin said. "Then honestly my reaction was, 'Does Tracy know about you working here? You HAVE to call her!'"
After receiving Finn’s email, I decided I better do a very overdue follow-up story 20 years in the making. We both looked a little older. He wasn’t wearing his Elvis costume. But he still has a definite Elvis air about him, from the clothes he wears to the swirl in his hair.
“As soon as I was able to, I grew sideburns, without even thinking about it, I guess,” Finn said.
He said he remembers his Elvis days well — even dressing like Elvis several Halloweens in a row.
“I was fat Elvis. I was a chubby baby. And I think the year after that I was ‘comeback special' Elvis and then after that I was ‘Jailhouse Rock' Elvis,” he said. “ I think there might have been one year where I was Elvis in a Vegas tour or something.”
He said he was Elvis-obsessed because it’s all he watched when he was little. Some his age had The Wiggles and Disney Channel. He had “Viva Las Vegas” and “King Creole.”
Finn thinks the Elvis obsession waned by about the time he was 5 years old. But he still retained his love of music, learning guitar and playing in bands in high school. He graduated from Moorhead High in 2018 and Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2020.
Unlike toddler Finn, 2022 Finn isn't likely to wear Elvis’ leather pants from ‘68 or the sparkly jumpsuits from ‘77 or break into song while editing a story for the newscast.
"But it still makes me smile and feel good that we have Little Elvis in our midst every day," Kerstin said.
So Elvis might not be the first thing you see about Finn anymore, but he's definitely in there somewhere.
“I still love Elvis. I mean,he's the king. I think it's really a testament that there’s a movie about him that came out this year,” Finn said. “People still listen to and love his music and the movie, I think it shows that it still connects with people.”
If I ever interviewed you and you think it might be fun to do a follow-up story, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.