Elvis Presley Enterprises never misses a chance to celebrate a new milestone relating to Elvis. For example, the 50th anniversary of the release of his first hit, “That’s All Right, Mama” in 2004.
EPE also marks milestones involving Graceland. On May 3rd, they announced that Graceland officially welcomed its 20 millionth paid visitor since opening to the public on June 7, 1982.
So, EPE is now giving us fans a chance to celebrate with 20 days of events. Until May 22, you can sign up for a giveaway:
There will be winners every day, but the grand prize is a getaway to Memphis including a private tour of Graceland, a three-night stay at the new Guest House at Graceland, tickets to other Memphis music attractions, and the Elvis Presley limited-edition 60-CD box set. Click here to enter.
You don’t win any prize with this one, but if you submit a photo of yourself it may end up in a mosaic photo of Graceland. They now have an app where you can locate your photo in it. Of course, you will be encouraged to buy a copy of the final photo, but no price has been listed yet.
I like to tie an ElvisBlog post in with these Elvis milestone events, but celebrating Graceland is a little harder. I have a great file of photos, but I want to use the best ones next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ purchase of the mansion and fourteen acres. EPE hasn’t announced a celebration yet, but you can bet there’s one coming.
Then I discovered Elvis’ Humor, a book of 290 humorous Elvis anecdotes, divided into distinct categories. Like the three in the sub-title, girls, guns, and guitars, and dozens more… including Graceland. When I saw that, it registered on me that stories of Elvis antics at Graceland would make a great blog post to join the 20 million visitors celebration. I contacted the book’s author, Bo Keeley, and asked for his permission to use a few, and he kindly said “yes.”
So here are five excerpts from Elvis’ Humor. Bo Keeley proceeds each story with a little background information and follows with his original source book, the author, and the page number where it appears.
Elvis flails fins on the movie poster of the 1967 musical comedy ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’. He plays Lieutenant Ted Jackson who is a former U.S. Navy frogman who divides his breaths between twin careers as a deep sea diver and nightclub singer. His actual background for the role was swimming and waterskiing as a teen, and many movie sets on ocean beaches. Graceland also had a kidney-shaped pool on a cut-stone patio. In the summer of 1973, recalling his fantasy frogman days, E threw a scuba party on the Graceland patio…
Elvis got into snorkeling and scuba diving. He rented equipment for everyone. Of course there was nowhere to go snorkeling around Memphis so Elvis just invited a lot of people over and we used Graceland pool. The whole entourage got involved and, as usual, there was a lot of local talent, pretty young girls in scanty bathing suits, all vying for Elvis’s attention.
When Elvis got in the water so did everyone else, but the Graceland pool wasn’t that big. It looked kind of like an underwater fight scene from a James Bond movie with all of them trying to navigate around in there. Elvis just like to sit at the bottom of the pool and watch the girls swimming above him.
– Billy Stanley, Elvis, My Brother, 288
The Presley family moved to Graceland in the spring of 1957, between ‘Loving You’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’. One of the reasons Elvis bought the 14-acres estate is because his earlier neighbors found, despite the perks of having a famous celebrity living nearby, the constant gathering of fans and journalists was a nuisance. At the time, the property was located several miles beyond the Memphis main urbane area that, in later years, would expand with housing, resulting in Graceland being surrounded by other properties. The King immediately spent in excess of $500,000 for renovations, including the $35,000 wall around every inch of the property, and musical gates. After returning from Hollywood, Las Vegas, or a concert tour, his favorite getaway place was back home…
Fans were always down at the front gate at Graceland. At night they gathered to watch the lights go on and off in the different rooms.
Some nights, Elvis would call out to the barn and have Mike McGregor saddle up Rising Sun so he could ride down to the gate and sign autographs and talk. He felt safer on a horse.
One night he called down to the gate. His uncle Harold Lloyd was on duty down there.
“Open the gate,” Elvis said. “Tell them to come inside.”
“Come inside?” Harold echoed.
“Just hold on,” Elvis said. “Tell them to come on inside, then shut the gate after then and lock it.”
“Lock ‘em inside?” Harold echoed again.
“That’s right,” Elvis said.
So Harold opened the gate and the fans came on inside. They looked up at the mansion, expecting to see Elvis coming out the front door.
A car honked behind them in the street.
They turned around. It was Elvis, driving along the boulevard, smiling and waving at them.
They all ran back to the gate. It was shut. Elvis drove on out of sight.
They didn’t know what to do.
Then they saw Elvis’ car swing in the back gate. Elvis got out and walked down the winding driveway toward them. They were so stunned they didn’t move.
They dissolved when he walked in among them and smiled.
– Charlie Hodge, Me ‘n Elvis, 139
In the mid-1960s, Presley enlarged the house to create a den that came to be called the Jungle Room. It was originally a screened in back patio that sat behind the kitchen, which he incorporated into the main house complete with a waterfall of cut stone on the far wall. It leaked and flooded, which created a steamy atmosphere in the summer in the Jungle Room full of exotic plants, animal prints, and floor-to-ceiling shag carpet in an African motif. One day in 1968, Elvis heard Vernon laughing and went downstairs to investigate. Vernon snickered that he had just stopped by a furniture store to have a look at a new style of home furnishing. It was hilarious, he said, and belonged in a jungle. The enormous price tag made him laugh too. Why would anyone spend that kind of money to live in a jungle?…
Elvis was inspired. He called the store and ordered the entire set. He spent much more than he would have normally dared, but it would be worth it to see the expression on his father’s face. The furniture was delivered the next day while Vernon was out of the house. Elvis and his men set the furniture up in the downstairs den. When everything was in place, Elvis found that he actually liked the ambiance the furniture gave the room. He felt calm and at ease. The oversized animal-print chairs were set low and wide; the coffee table was a slab of giant cypress tree heavily lacquered with polyurethane.
Elvis installed a rock waterfall fountain which dripped water from a pump on top, and even the lamps had an African motif. Elvis could not express how he felt in that room, but whatever it was, he liked it.
When Vernon returned to the house, Elvis called him downstairs. The younger Presley almost dropped to the floor with laughter at the sight of his father’s amazed face. Elvis explained that the room had originally been intended as a gag, but now he liked it and wanted to leave it as it was.
– Jim Curtin, Elvis: Unknown Stories Behind the Legend, 43
Golf Cart Plunge
Elvis Presley’s response to difficulty, anxiety, nuisance, insult, and troubles was often humor. One day in the summer of ’75, the Stanley brothers were fooling around at the pool and wouldn’t stop. Elvis was trying to read at the poolside and they kept splashing him. He growled that if they didn’t’ stop… the splashing continued…
He walked off in a huff and we forgot about it. We were still in the pool about half an hour later when we saw Elvis coming over the hill in the golf cart. He stopped, stood up, and yelled for us to get out of the pool. We just yelled, splashed, and taunted him.
So he came driving straight toward the pool with 300-pound Lamar Fike sitting next to him on the cart. We thought he was just trying to scare us but he came busting up and drove right into the pool. Of course we scattered, but Lamar had trouble getting out of the cart. So we all jumped back in to make sure he made it to the surface. Vernon came out yelling at everyone to get out. The cart was electric powered by batteries, and he was afraid we’d all get electrocuted. Vernon made us drain the pool before pulling the cart out.
– Billy Stanley, Elvis My Brother, 288
My thanks go out to Bo Keeley for providing these humorous Elvis stories. If you would like to get a copy pf Elvis’ Humor, click here.
© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.