The celebration of Elvis Week is going on right now in Memphis. I’ve been to four of these so far, and plan to be back next year for the 35th Anniversary. Elvis fans are quite content to refer to these yearly anniversaries without also including the qualifying phrase of the death of Elvis. Elvis Week is a certainly a celebration of Elvis’ life, but his passing was the genesis of thousands of fans making the pilgrimage to Graceland every August.
I start early each year trying to figure out a new way to blog about the anniversary of Elvis’ death. A few weeks ago, when I researched the ElvisBlog article about Elvis on the covers on the tabloid The Sun, I came across my copy of the September 20, 1977, issue of the National Enquirer. On the cover was a photo of Elvis in a car, and the tag was “Hours Before He Died.” The caption under the picture was, “The Last Photo of Elvis Alive.”
This photo, in both color and black-and-white, has been all over the internet for years. However, I have never read anything about who took it and the circumstance around the event. Then, I opened up that old National Enquirer, and there was the whole story.
On Page 57, Enquirer writer Chris Fuller had a two-column article, including a photo of the folks who took the picture.
So, in celebration of the 34th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, here is that article, edited slightly for brevity and emphasis.
Story Behind the Last Picture of Elvis Alive
Robert Call was ready with his camera when the car stopped at the front gate of Graceland in Memphis. People were shouting – “Elvis! Elvis!” Suddenly, inside the car, the King of Rock smiled and waved at Call’s four-year-old daughter Abby.
And that’s when Call took the picture…the last photograph of Elvis alive.
The time was 12:28 on the morning of August 16. Just a few hours later, Elvis would be found dead.
“We were excited when my husband took the picture,” said Call’s wife Nancy, “but we didn’t realize it would be the last one ever taken of Elvis.
“I’ll never forget the way it happened. Elvis was driving the car. There was a lady sitting in front with him and two men in the back. I had Abby in my arms almost right up against the car window.
“She was hollering – ‘Hi!” – and grinning from ear to ear. Elvis smiled really big, then he put on the brakes for a second, pointed to Abby and waived to her. That’s when my husband took the picture.
“Later that day we heard on TV that Elvis had died. We had just seen this man laughing, smiling and waving.”
The Calls, who live in Pierceton, Indiana, had gone to Memphis “because I was determined to get pictures of Abby and the other children at the Elvis home for my scrapbook,” Mrs. Call said.
Mrs. Call said little Abby…reacted to Elvis’ death with a touching remark. She said,
“I bet he’s going to be an angel.”
Maybe we should say we are celebrating the 34th annivesary of Elvis' ascendancy to Heaven.
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