Graceland is the beautiful mansion that Elvis Presley purchased in 1957, and Priscilla Presley transformed into a museum in 1982. The King of Rock and Roll lived and died on the breathtaking estate, which also serves as a family burial site. Though hundreds of thousands visit Graceland each year, few know its biggest secrets. For example, Elvis shot at one of the televisions in the mansion just to turn it off! And did you know that the rock star kept exotic animals on the property? One of them was a chimp known for pulling down people’s pants! Read on for more fascinating facts about Graceland.
Elvis’ Last Two Albums Were Recorded In The Jungle Room
One of the more eclectic rooms in Graceland is The Jungle Room. The space certainly lives up to its name, between its animal-inspired furniture and statues, stone walls, plant decor, and that oh-so-lush green carpet.
As it turns out, the super thick carpet had more purpose than just looking like grass. It was ideal for acoustics, which was necessary when Elvis decided to turn the room into a recording studio. The rocker produced his last two albums in The Jungle Room: From Elvis Presley Boulevard and Moody Blues.
Elvis’ Dining Room Table Had A Button To Alert Staff
When Elvis lived at Graceland, he had a list of items that had to remain stocked at all times. The list included Pepsi, orange drink, biscuits, sauerkraut, hot dogs, meatloaf, banana pudding, brownies, ice cream, fudge cookies, shredded coconut, and gum.
With such a sweet-intensive list, it’s no wonder that The King’s last meal consisted of four scoops of ice cream and six cookies. The rock star loved food so much that he had a button installed under the dining room table that would notify staff that he needed something!
Elvis’ Funeral Took Place In The Music Room
When a heart attack took Elvis’ life in 1977, thousands of rock and roll fans felt the impact. After two decades of living in Graceland, it seemed only fitting that his funeral take place in the mansion. Elvis’ coffin was placed in the gorgeous music room for a public viewing.
The space may be the most lovely in the house, with stained glass windows and a large piano. A long mirror over the fireplace causes the light to reflect around the room, which is further brightened with white furniture.
The Kitchen Was Closed To Tourists To Accommodate Elvis’ Aunt
Though Elvis passed five years before Graceland opened to tourists, there was still one person who lived on the property: Elvis’ aunt, Delta Presley Biggs. After her husband died in 1966, Aunt Delta moved into the mansion with Elvis and other members of the family.
When Graceland opened its doors to tourists in 1982, one of the rooms they kept off-limits was the kitchen, in order to help accommodate Aunt Delta. When she passed in 1993, the kitchen became open to the public. Between its patterned, carpet floors and stained glass chandeliers, the space certainly feels like a time capsule.
The Second Floor Has Been Closed Since Elvis Passed
Though there are plenty of rooms to view on Graceland’s first floor, those who are curious about the second level are out of luck. The top level has remained closed ever since Elvis passed, and today is only accessible by his former wife, Priscilla, and their daughter, Lisa Marie.
Thought tourists can’t see the personal bedrooms, they can view Elvis’ grave in the meditation garden out back. The anniversary of the rock legend’s death is one of the more popular times to visit Graceland, where a celebration and vigil is held to mark the occasion.
Elvis Loved TVs– And Shooting At Them
Part of Elvis’ charm was his fearlessness to be himself. From his scandalous dance moves to his flashy attire, the rock star wasn’t afraid to stand out. One aspect of his quirky attitude was his love for shooting things at random, especially televisions.
Graceland was full of televisions, including a gag graveyard in the back for his destroyed television sets. The wild child would sometimes shoot at TVs instead of turning them off. Reportedly, he did so once when Robert Goulet started singing on a show. The musicians were actually fond of one another, so the act was completely random.
Elvis Wasn’t Originally Buried In The Meditation Garden
Being that Elvis’ funeral took place at Graceland, it seems like a no brainer that he would also be buried there. On the contrary, Elvis was initially buried at a nearby cemetery due to zoning laws. That all changed when grave robbers attempted to steal the musician’s coffin!
Rumor has it that the attempt was made by none other than Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley. In a way, he did his son a favor, because the laws were waived after the attempt and Elvis was reburied in Graceland’s meditation garden.
Elvis Has A Fifth Late Relative Represented At Graceland
Elvis is buried next to his parents and his paternal grandmother, each of which has identical gravestones. That’s why some are surprised to find that a fifth late relative is also honored in the garden: Elvis’ twin brother, Jesse Garon, who was stillborn.
Elvis’ grandmother, Minnie May Presley, outlived all of the relatives buried at Graceland, passing in 1980. Even decades after the rock and roll legend died, thousands have continued to shower his gravestone with gifts and mementos.
Elvis Kept Exotic Animals On The Property
With the nearly 14 acres of land that Graceland sat on, there was plenty of space for wild animals. In addition to having multiple dogs, Elvis also welcomed peacocks, chickens, and pigs into his home.
One of the celebrity’s most famous animal companions was his chimp, Scatter. The pet had the same sense of humor that Elvis did, and would go around pulling down people’s pants to get a laugh out of his rockstar owner. Naturally, Elvis adored Scatter and gave him his own climate-controlled room in Graceland.
Elvis Presley “Sightings” Are Common At Graceland
While statues and pictures of Elvis are throughout Graceland to honor the singer’s memory, many guests swear that they’ve seen him in the flesh. Over the years, there have been plenty of eager fans who spot an elderly Elvis look-a-like and think it’s the icon himself.
Every so often, visitors will offer up footage of what they believe to be an Elvis sighting. One of the doppelgangers turned out to be a groundskeeper. So if you’re a portly man over the age of 80 with Elvis-like features, you may want to wear a disguise to Graceland.
Graceland Is The Second Most-Visited American Home
Graceland’s more than half a million annual visitors make it the second-most visited home in America. The only house that gets more tourists each year is The White House! It’s not only everyday people who pour into its doors, but also celebrities and world leaders.
Some of the notable people who have paid a visit to Graceland include Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, boxer Muhammad Ali, musicians Paul Simon and Paul McCartney, Prince William, and Prince Harry. One staff member joked, “It is pretty special to have a future king take time to come visit The King.”
Elvis’ Pink Cadillac Is Still Parked At Graceland
In this image, the Presidential Cadillac is driving past Elvis’ famous pink Cadillac. Passing The King’s car are the Prime Minister of Japan and George W. Bush, who was president at the time. The world leaders were on their way to visit the legendary Graceland.
Elvis is known for owning– and destroying– multiple pink Cadillacs throughout his life. Given his history with television sets, we aren’t surprised he could be a little rambunctious behind the wheel. The one at Graceland features an “E” embroidered into the driver’s side mat.
Elvis Loved To Personalize His Vehicles
Like many celebrities, Elvis loved putting a personal spin on his vehicles. In addition to his pink Cadillac, his pink Jeep is also on display at Graceland. It features a hot pink hood that matches the rims and a softer pink body that goes with the pink and white stripes of the interior fabric.
Another vehicle on display at Graceland is Elvis’ Mercedes limousine. It featured a Motorola car phone that was pretty advanced for the time and was thus noted in the film Elvis On Tour.
Elvis Has More Than 100 Certified Gold Records
It’s no surprise that the king of rock and roll had a ton of records, many of which were certified gold and platinum. However, seeing the records all lined up on the wall in Graceland sheds light on how truly staggering his musical success was.
The RIAA officially certified 101 of Elvis’ records gold, 57 of them platinum, and another 25 multi-platinum. Elvis loved to listen to music as much as he did play it, so Graceland also features part of his versatile album collection.
Elvis’ Suits Are Worth Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars
An Elvis museum wouldn’t be complete without putting the man’s luxurious jumpsuits on display. Designed by the late and great Bill Belew, the flashy jumpsuits were practical enough for Elvis to dance around in them easily.
He had dozens of jumpsuits, each with unique patterns and materials. Bloomberg reports that at Graceland’s 2017 memorabilia auction, Elvis’ “Blue Armadillo” jumpsuit and jacket sold for a quarter of a million dollars! For that price, we hope the owner wears the suit to bed each and every night.
“Graceland” Comes From The Original Owners
When the 22-year-old Elvis Presley purchased Graceland in 1957, it didn’t have a name. He derived the title from the original owners’ aunt, Grace Toof. Up to that point, the estate had been in the Toof family for generations.
Elvis’ decision to name the mansion Graceland could have been his way of paying homage to the family that gave up their longheld property. In this way, they’ll always have a piece of the rock legend’s famous home.
Elvis Was Only The Second Person To Own The Mansion
Elvis Presley’s parents were the ones who found the beautiful Graceland, and even put down a $1,000 deposit for their famous son. They knew that the 13.8-acre property was just the kind of quiet spot that Elvis was looking for.
The quaint land was a part of a 500-acre farm owned by the Toof family. In 1939, a local doctor who had married into the family built the mansion for himself and his wife. This is the couple who would end up selling it to Elvis almost 20 years later.
Elvis Nearly Doubled The Mansion’s Size
Though the property only cost a little over $100k, Elvis would go on to spend hundreds of thousands more in renovations. By the time Elvis was through rehabbing the property, he’d increased its square footage from 10,000 to 17,000 square feet!
The mansion ended up with eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms, which could easily accommodate the rocker’s family members. He also added personal touches like a shooting range, a horse stable, and this lovely musical gate.
Priscilla Was Faced With Having To Sell Graceland
When Elvis passed in 1977, Priscilla became the estate executor since Lisa Marie was only 11 years old at the time. The massive property cost half a million dollars a year just to maintain, which would result in Priscilla having no choice but to sell it if she didn’t come up with a way to cover the costs.
Elvis’ former wife proved to be a savvy businesswoman when she decided to turn the property into a moneymaker. She hired CEO Jack Soden to turn the home into the tourist spot we know it as today.
Graceland Has Had More Than 20 Million Visitors
In 2016, Graceland announced that it had reached its 20 millionth visitor over its 34 years of business. Many tourists come to participate in Elvis Week, an annual event that consists of numerous activities such as screenings, concerts, and a conclusive candlelight vigil.
In 2005, Lisa Marie sold 85% of the estate to an entertainment company, whose board of directors happens to include Priscilla Presley. In 2019, reports leaked that the estate would be expanding to include an RV park, more guest housing, and even an airplane hangar!