Tag Archives: Jerry Schilling

Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart

Marty Lacker's chart of Elvis' Memphis Mafia Individual Responsibilities

This image is too small for reading, so don’t try. In this post we will dissect and expand it to show the individual responsibilities of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia circa January 1965. As you know, the men making up this unique group varied as some left (or left and came back) or were added as the years went by. But in late 1964 and early 1965, the guys who took care of Elvis’ every need were:

Marty Lacker
Red West
Billy Smith
Richard Davis
Joe Esposito
Jerry Shilling
Mike Keaton

And there was a specific order of responsibilities as shown in the following organizational chart distilled from the above image.

Elvis' Memphis Mafia Flow Chart

 

So, it appears Red West and Billy Smith had special relationships with Elvis and reported directly to him. But Richard Davis, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, and Mike Keaton all reported to Marty Lacker.

Marty Lacker and Elvis Presley

Marty Lacker as co-best man at Elvis’ wedding

I never knew Marty was such an important member of the Memphis Mafia.

And, like most of you, I had never heard of Mike Keaton.

 

So what is this document that shows the power ranking among Elvis’ guys? It was part of a ten-page lot offered at the recent Auction at Graceland.

1965 Elvis Presley Memphis Mafia Duties and Responsibilities Chart

It had a pre-auction estimate of $5-10,000, but bidding failed to reach the minimum of $2,500. In the early 1980s, Lacker transferred ownership of these papers to Mike L. Moon for display in the Elvis Museum. I suspect we will see them up for auction again.

 

Marty Lacker's Elvis Responsibilities

This blow-up refers to Marty as Foreman, a term I had not come across before regarding the Memphis Mafia. The boxes beside his name, spell out his duties in both Memphis and Los Angeles. With Elvis making three movies a year, he and the guys traveled back and forth between the two cities.

In Memphis, Marty’s responsibilities were:

All personal financial business, including, especially, money.
Elvis’ personal mail
Business with the Col’s office.
Responsible to Elvis for entire operation
Upkeep of bus

Item # 4 is the biggie. We have read that Marty Lacker was Elvis’ personal bookkeeper and secretary, but who knew he was responsible for the whole operation?

The list for Marty Lacker’s responsibilities in Los Angeles is essentially the same. However, one of the other pages in this package expanded on Marty’ functions at both locations. I like this one – Purchase records for Elvis. This makes sense, because Marty had business interests in the recording industry and lots of contacts. So, maybe he had better taste than the other guys in what music would appeal to Elvis.

In L.A, Marty also had to work with the studio heads for Elvis. I guess he was some kind of buffer between Col. Parker. The last two other L.A. assignments make no sense to me – weekly food menu and grocery shopping. It seems strange for the guy running the whole operation to do the food shopping.

 

Red West's Elvis Responsibilities

At the top left of the chart is Red West, Elvis’ friend since high school, and he had a sweet deal – Assistant to Elvis and Available to assist others as needed. So I guess he just got to hang out and be Elvis’ buddy both in Memphis and L.A. Of course, Red served as bodyguard, so I wonder why that wasn’t mentioned.

 

Billy Smith's Elvis Responsibilities

At the top right of the chart is Elvis’ cousin, Billy Smith. The religious symbols drawn below his name and elsewhere must have been some kind of doodling by Marty Lacker, because this document was in his possession at all times. Billy Smith’s responsibilities in Memphis were rather light – Elvis’ shoes, Elvis’ razor, and be available daily if needed by Elvis. However, there is a separate sheet with a more detailed list (and a bunch of drawings of Elvis). It was also the only one to be typed

Billy Smith - expanded list of Elvis responsibilities

Billy had to keep Elvis’ shoes polished and repaired, and Elvis’ razor had to be cleaned and kept charged. A new duty was added: Elvis’ clothes – work with Richard, keep cleaned and hung upstairs in dressing room.

I like the longer explanation of be available if needed by Elvis. Here Marty gets a lot more specific about Billy’s duties: Be at Graceland by at least 2:30 P.M. each day, unless notified otherwise. (If for any reason you cannot make it by that time on any day, please tell Marty the night before).

Unlike Red West who had the same job of being Elvis’ buddy in both locations, Billy Smith had some real responsibilities added when they were in Los Angeles.

Upkeep and care of portable dressing room on set each day.
Elvis’ clothes. (Receive dirty clothes from Richard. Keep a list of them, then send to cleaners. Upon return from cleaners, remove and save tickets, then give clothes to Richard to be hung in closets. Give all tickets to Marty at end of each month to be checked against bill).
Assist Elvis with each change of wardrobe at studio
Keep Elvis’ black kit stocked with needed items and carry it for him when necessary
And Elvis’ shoes and razor as already explained.

 

Richard Davis' Elvis Responsibilities

Now we get to the two men listed as assistants to Marty. All fans know that Richard Davis was Elvis’ wardrobe guy and shopped for his clothes, but he had some other jobs, too. In Memphis, he took care of the vehicles (wash, gas, repairs), and he oversaw the stocking of needed items for Elvis in the kitchen and the rest of the house. He was also expected to be at Graceland by 1:30 every day.

There are two other Memphis responsibilities on his expanded list that I find interesting. Richard had to buy six copies of TV Guide and distribute them to Elvis’ room, the kitchen, Marty’s room, the downstairs den, and two other places with unfamiliar names. The conference room – I guess that was the dining room because Elvis ate all his meals in the kitchen. The Graceland room – I guess that would be the living room.

Richard was also expected to take care of business for Elvis, along with Joe Esposito, in the Marty’s absence. Thus the title of Assistant to Marty we see in the graph.

In Los Angeles, Richard got to oversee the running of the house on Bellagio Road. This included menu preparation and grocery shopping. I wonder why Marty would do that in Memphis and Richard would do it in L.A. Handling fan mail shifted from Marty to Richard, who also handled business calls at the house when Marty was absent.

As in Memphis, Richard Davis was responsible for the cars, bought the TV Guides, and was responsible for stocking the kitchen and bar. But my favorite of his duties is this: Keep water, gum, cigars(ettes), Blistex on set for Elvis when Jerry not available. Among Richard’s wardrobe responsibilities was: Select clothes to take to studio each morning. Return at night to Jerry.

 

Joe Esposito's Elvis Responsibilities

Joe Esposito, the other Assistant to Marty, had few daily responsibilities while Elvis was in Memphis. On an as needed basis, he would drive car for Elvis, handle miscellaneous business for Elvis, and make and confirm appointments such as doctor, dentist, house repairs, and prescriptions. He also had fill-in duties: Assume household responsibilities in Richard’s absence, and take care of business along with Richard in Marty’s absence.

When Elvis was making movies In Los Angeles, Joe had several important functions. He maintained Elvis’ script, marking daily scenes and keeping it available on set. He assisted Marty conducting business with the studio. In Marty’s absence, he handled business with Col. Parker. He assisted Elvis with wardrobe in Billy’s absence

Marty Lacker deserves credit for thinking ahead and making certain all his and the others guys’ functions had back-ups.

 

Jerry Schilling's Elvis Responsibilities

Jerry Schilling had it almost as easy as Red West when Elvis was in Memphis. He was responsible for upkeep of the Cadillac limo. There’s no telling why Richard was charged with all the other cars. Jerry also kept the cigar boxes stocked in the den, car, and Elvis’ room, plus he notified Richard of needed cigar box items. He assisted with Elvis’ clothes. Here’s the one I really like: Be available if needed whenever Elvis comes down from his room.

Marty definitely made sure people were around when Elvis woke up and started his day.

The sheet with Jerry Schilling’s expanded duties included two regarding Elvis’ private screening of movies. He had to check with the theater, and bring Elvis and Priscilla large cups of water at the movie.

When Elvis was in L,A., Jerry got some new jobs in addition to the cigar duty, assisting Billy with the clothes, and being around at night for Elvis’ companionship. Now he took care of the studio golf cart, purchased the afternoon paper at the studio, and kept glasses of ice water, cigarettes, etc on set for Elvis. And here’s the big one: Assisted Mike with ice for set dressing room each morning. How can ice detail take more than one man?

Jerry’s expanded responsibility list had this: Check with assistant director after each take, scene, or delay, as to how much time before next shot and what it will be.

 

Mike Keaton's Elvis Responsibilities

Finally, we come to this fellow Mike Keaton, who has been unknown to us up until now. He was a friend of Jerry Schilling and Elvis hired him in late September 1964. There are several familiar Memphis Mafia names who were not on the organizational chart, even though their tenure started before 1965 and ended after it. So, Charlie Hodge, Sonny West, Lamar Fike, and Alan Fortas must have been away from the scene for a while perusing singing careers, acting, or something else.

Thus, Elvis needed some new blood, and Jerry recruited Mike Keaton. When Elvis interviewed Mike, he learned the new guy was a member of the Assembly of God church, which the Presleys had attended when Elvis was a kid. Then Elvis found out that Mike’s wife was named Gladys. That clinched it for Elvis, and he hired him on the spot.

To be honest, many of the responsibilities listed for Mike in both locations duplicate many of those listed for other guys. The only different jobs listed for Memphis are picking up and returning movies, and maintaining the 16m mm film projector. In Los Angeles, he purchased two copies of the trades papers each morning at the studio, and he brought the daily call sheets to the Colonel’s office.

 

Graceland Kitchen

Graceland Kitchen

The last sheet in the auction package did not apply to anyone. It was a general list of 31 items to be “kept in kitchen and house for Elvis — at all times — every day.” I believe you will be able to read it, so I’ll skip typing it.

Elvis' Graceland 1965 - Items to be kept in kitchen and house at all times

 

So, maybe Marty Lacker’s Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart and related pages didn’t sell for $2,500, but they did give us a free look at how Elvis’ every need was provided by a group of seven men.

 

Next week we’ll look at some of the items at the Auction at Graceland that did sell.

 

 

© 2017 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.

History Repeats — Geraldo Trashes Elvis Again

Geraldo Rivera Reports Elvis at 80

The night after Thanksgiving, I had the misfortune to watch this TV show. I had only modest expectations, thinking it would probably cover all the stuff we fans know so well already. However, after ten minutes, I realized this was a piece of trash journalism of the first order. After some research, I now know that Geraldo Rivera has a history of slamming Elvis going back to 1979.

The Elvis Cover up 1979

This was a September 13, 1979 episode of the ABC network show 20/20. The supposed cover-up was about Elvis’ abuse of prescription drugs.

The Elvis Cover-Up 20-20 Sept 1979

This is footage of Geraldo doing the Elvis Cover-Up. He seems pretty happy dragging Elvis through the muck, doesn’t he? Because that show scored huge ratings, Geraldo apparently couldn’t resist reusing significant portions of it in his new Elvis at 80.

Geraldo Announcing Elvis' Death 1977

He didn’t waste any time getting into old footage. He opened the show with a clip of himself announcing Elvis’ death in 1977.

In Elvis at 80, Geraldo’s first reference to Elvis and drugs came just two minutes into the program. At the thirty minute mark, Geraldo was still talking about Elvis and drugs. By this point, I was screaming at the TV, “Geraldo, you worthless piece of s**t. That’s enough. This show sucks!”

Another evidence of his lack of taste in Elvis at 80 was the eight minutes he spent on tribute artists rather than on Elvis himself.

17 year old ETA

Believe it or not, two minutes of the show were wasted interviewing this guy and having him sing a few lines of “Hurt.” No wonder some folks have a negative image of Elvis impersonators

If Geraldo hadn’t given so much time to the prescriptions and ETAs, he would have had plenty of time to cover all the things he never mentioned or gave only passing mention to, like:

Tupelo birthplace (didn’t even show the house)
Gladys and Vernon
Humes High School
Girlfriends June Jaunico and Anita Wood (but we did get an interview with Tori Petty. Ever heard of her?)
Sun Records (no inside of outside shots, no archival Sam Phillips footage)
Scotty, Bill and D.J. (totally unforgivable)
Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, and Steve Allen TV shows.
Significant movies (Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, Viva Las Vegas, Blue Hawaii, etc)
Circle G Ranch
Jaycees’ Outstanding Young American Award
’68 Comeback Special (far too little, considering the impact on Elvis career)
Elvis’ love for Gospel music
Aloha From Hawaii
Linda Thompson
Elvis’ charitable giving (no specifics, just a quick reference to his legendary generosity)

This is probably an incomplete list because just wrote down what came to me. If you spot a big omission, mention it on Comments and I’ll add it.

So what did we get on the show if they left out all these significant parts of his life and career? In addition to Geraldo’s favorite topics, drugs and tribute artists, we got a lot of face time of Geraldo himself.

Geraldo in Jumpsuit on Elvis Mania

He couldn’t resist showing himself in an Elvis jumpsuit. This old clip came from an August 14, 1992 show called Elvismania.”

We also got tiresome sound bites from a strange assortment of people: Gene Simmons (from KISS), Ray Stevens, Chubby Checker, Larry Gatlin, Neil Sedaca, and Tommy Roe. There was a little recycled footage of Priscilla (looked like something from an old Elvis Week interview.

On the other hand, Brenda Lee was good, because she had actual connections to Elvis to talk about. Best of all were Jerry Schilling and George Klein, both of whom I consider to be good guys among Elvis circle of friends.

Geraldo and Jerry Schilling

George Klein

Yes, there were short segments on Col. Parker, Graceland, Army life (including mention of Elvis’ introduction to GI Speed), Priscilla, and Lisa Marie. Near the end of the show, Geraldo stated that he would have loved to interview Priscilla and Lisa Marie, but they were unavailable. Yeah, right. They probably wouldn’t be caught dead appearing on a hatchet job like this show.

 

Geraldo had plenty of negative slams about Elvis in his narrative, but he did mix in some praise as well.

Slams

Fading King of Rock and Roll
Fat at forty, strained and swollen
The decline and fall of the king
Almost became a joke in the 60s
Enough dope from enough doctors to kill a horse
Worth more dead than alive

Praises

An idol to millions of us growing up in the 50s and 60s
He revolutionized the music business
In one way of another he touched most of us
His music will live forever
Enriched America’s cultural heritage

Geraldo Rivera’s website has its own Elvis Page, on which it says, “over the years, Geraldo has had some great insights on his (Elvis’) character, culture and place in the American sphere.

Did Elvis Committ Suicide

Give me a break. Do you call it insights or trash journalism when you do shows like The King’s Deep Dark Secret (1982) or Did Elvis Commit Suicide? (1990)?

Geraldo ended Elvis at 80 with this: “Elvis, thanks for the memories.”

I say, “Geraldo, this show is a memory I want to forget.”

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.