Elvis Presley's Iconic Graceland Home And Ten Lesser-Known Facts About It
Jan 23, 2021 by apost team
Elvis was a superstar in the truest sense of the word—he was a talented musician and performer with a larger than life persona, which was reflected across all areas, including his home. Famously known as "Graceland," the king of rock and roll's abode features all kinds of history. Just when you think you might know everything about the rock icon, be sure to check out these 10 facts about Graceland that perhaps you weren't aware of.
Graceland: What's In The Name?
For Elvis Presley fans, the name Graceland is almost as famous as the man himself, but did you know that he wasn't actually responsible for naming the property? That's right, Graceland's famous name already came with the estate when Elvis bought it on March 19, 1959, for $102,500, which comes out at over $900,000 today. He was a mere 22 years old when he bought the famous home, after looking for a refuge to escape the pressures of fame and enamored fans. The previous owner was Dr. Thomas Moore and his wife Ruth, who had the Colonial Revival mansion built in 1939. They had named it after Ruth's aunt, who was called Grace Toof, whose father had previously used the extensive land for farming.
An Indulgent Shopping List
As a young man at the age of 22, Elvis surely must have felt the freedom of not only having a gorgeous and generously sized mansion to live in but being able to live as he pleases—which includes having meals made for him and a pantry stocked with whatever he fancied. His love of peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches were well known, but there was a list of other items that the King had to have on hand "at all times, every day," according to People Magazine. These appeared on his shopping list:
"One case regular Pepsi, one case orange drink, at least six cans of biscuits, cans of sauerkraut, 'Wieners,' banana pudding (cooked fresh nightly), ingredients for meatloaf and sauce, brownies, ice cream (vanilla and chocolate), shredded coconut, fudge cookies, gum (spearmint, doublemint, Juicy Fruit, three each)."
What an eclectic mix—apparently the weekly shopping bill was $500! Furthermore, if Elvis craved something in particular during dinner, he had a buzzer installed under his seat at the table, which was connected to the kitchen. Now that's living like a king!
Elvis Was Fond Of His Pet Chimp
Elvis had a number of animals at Graceland, namely a stable of horses that were housed in a large barn that was built on the property. But one animal that is unexpected was Elvis' pet chimpanzee named Scatter. The primate was a cheeky monkey, no pun intended, whose behavior proved to be a pain in the household. It was rumored that Scatter would pull down women's skirts and made his presence known by calling, "Woooo! Woooo! Woooo!" in a deafening tone, as chimps are wont to do.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Elvis reveled in Scatter's naughty behavior and even played into it himself! He would dress Scatter up in elaborate costumes and even used to play a joke that involved having Scatter sit in the front seat of his car. As the two pulled up to traffic lights, Elvis would get down in his seat, giving the illusion that Scatter was the one driving! But the monkey's mischief was even too much for Elvis at one point, with Scatter eventually sent to live in a climate-controlled room at the mansion.
A Game Room Suited To A King
Inspired by an 18th-century billiards room he had seen in a painting, Elvis had designer Bill Eubanks fit out his games room in a stylish allover print. Eubanks purchased 350 yards of patterned cotton fabric from a furniture store and with the help of a team of workers, they took 10 days to bolt and pleat the fabric onto the wall, resulting in a luxurious space that Elvis could relax in.
Elvis Liked To Watch Three TVs At Once
Taking cues from President Lyndon Johnson, who watched three television sets at once in order to view all three major network news programs at the same time, Elvis set up his downstairs media room in much the same way. Apparently an avid TV watcher, Presley loved to watch anything—unless Robert Goulet was on the TV. Allegedly not a fan of the actor, before remote controls were around, Elvis was said to shoot at the TV with a pistol to get Goulet off the screen.
The Boss Visits The King
Back in 1976, one year before his death in 1977, Elvis was still the King, but a young upstart musician by the name of Bruce Springsteen was on the cusp of stardom. He would later earn the moniker the Boss, but back then he was just a young musician who happened to be passing through Memphis. Late one April night, Springsteen and his E Street Band guitarist, Steven Van Zandt, took a cab to Graceland and after seeing that lights were on in the main house, jumped the fence in order to go up to the front door, hoping to meet the King. Well, their plan didn't end as they'd hoped, as security guards found them before they could make it to the front door. In the end, Presley wasn't home anyway—he was in Lake Tahoe during their visit.
Presley Turned The Jungle Room Into A Recording Studio
Tiki furniture was all the rage in the '60s, and in the middle of the decade, Presley added an enclosed den onto Graceland's kitchen, which he later decorated in the popular style. It featured Tiki furniture, plants, and a flagstone waterfall that added to the room's deeply tropical vibe, prompting fans to dub it "the Jungle Room," although Elvis never called it that himself.
But by the mid-'70s, the record label RCA had sent a mobile recording unit to Presley's home, which Elvis had set up in "the Jungle Room"—it's shag carpet helped to absorb sound). Songs from the recording session at Presley's temporary home studio were released on From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. There was one more session held there in October 1976—which ended up being the last before Elvis' death in August 1977—of which four songs would be released posthumously on the album Moody Blue.
His Body Was Moved To Graceland After Burglars Attempted To Steal It
Graceland was not only Elvis' home in life, but it is also his home in death, with the icon buried on the estate. However, that wasn't originally what was planned. After Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, he was buried next to his mother Gladys at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis. But only two days later on August 18, a group of thieves attempted to steal his coffin—which weighed 900-lbs. and was steel-lined and copper-plated—and the remains inside, with the intention of holding it for ransom. The flimsy plan wasn't well conceived, however, and three men were arrested, albeit only for trespassing on cemetery property, as their plan hadn't gone far.
In a bid to stop copycat attempts, Elvis and his mother's graves were moved to Graceland, where they rest in the estate's Meditation Garden—a beautiful area full of plants and fountains that is sectioned off by white columns and a pergola. Elvis had this area built in 1964 and it was where he would love to sit and reflect. Afterward, Presley's father Vernon and a monument for Elvis' twin brother Jessie, who was stillborn, are also there.
The Upstairs Area Is Off Limits
Presley had a master suite on the second floor of the house, which was his private refuge, where only the closest of his friends would be allowed. It's also there, in his bathroom, where his body was found after his death. When Graceland was opened to the public in 1982, the second floor was closed off out of respect to Elvis' family and to avoid unsavory attention towards the location of his death.
In the decades that have passed, the upstairs has gained a lot of attention and a kind of myth around it. For example, there are rumors that the bedroom suite hasn't been changed since he died, with everything as it was when he passed. On top of that, no high-quality authentic photos have been released, while nobody is allowed to enter, except for Presley's former wife Priscilla Presley, his daughter Lisa Marie Presley, and the curator of Graceland. Notable people including presidents and foreign dignitaries have all tried to gain access but haven't been lucky. However, funnily enough, one notable but seemingly random celebrity has been there—Nicholas Cage, when he was married to Lisa Marie in the 2000s.
Graceland Is the Second Most Visited Home In the United States
Graceland is an iconic location and the main site for all things Elvis, but did you know it's the second most visited residence in the United States? A whopping 650,000 people visit the estate each year. That's a lot of visitors, but whose abode could possibly be more visited than Elvis'?! It's actually the White House, which makes perfect sense.Elvis Presley (1957), (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Are you a fan of Elvis Presley? Did you know any of these 10 facts about Graceland before or did some of them surprise you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, then be sure to pass this on to those you know!