MORBID CURIOSITY: Celebrity Tombstones Across America | home
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January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977
After his 1973 divorce from his wife, Priscilla, Elvis' career began to wane. His finances were in a shambles and his rapid weight gain began to worry him. In an effort to regain his former image, he embarked on a regiment of pills and dieting to lose the weight rapidly.
For him to lose the weight and to maintain his health, he needed to change his life completely. This was something that he was not prepared to do. His lifestyle of staying up all night and partying and then sleeping all day gave his life little structure, and only added to his health problems.
Although there were bad influences around him, there were also people who genuinely cared for him. Unfortunately they were witnesses to his self-destructive tendencies and made attempts to "discreetly" counsel the King. Most of the time he would ignore them, and if they persisted, they were gone.
Inevitably this lifestyle led to his early demise. On the morning of August 16, 1977, Elvis
played a game of racquet ball and then retired to his living room where he played perhaps his last song, “Unchained Melody.” After that, it is presumed that he went up to his bedroom where he was later found on the floor of his bathroom (the coroner's report stated he was found on the floor of his dressing room) by then girlfriend, Ginger Alden. He had been lying there for about three hours before being discovered. Despite the length of time passed, all attempts were made to save "the King." Their efforts failed and he was pronounced dead at 3:30 am at a Memphis Hospital (now renamed Elvis Presley Memorial), by his personal physician George Nichopoulos.
The exact cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, which was brought on by "undetermined causes.' A more precise cause of death was due to drug dependency, obesity and a weak heart.
An autopsy was ordered to find out the exact cause. One of the things that led to his death were clogged arteries. The most important thing that killed him was the long list of "prescription" drugs that he ingested on a regular basis. Fourteen different drugs were detected in his blood stream, also included were toxic levels of methoqualone and ten times the normal dosage of codeine.
When visiting Elvis' grave you should arrive prior to 7:30am to avoid the long lines, obligatory ride on the tour bus, complete with narrated tour by Priscilla, and of course the $12 fee. Also never go on the King's birthday (unless you're a hard core Elvis fan) the anniversary of his death (Elvis Week) or you will encounter a mob. I visited the day before his death anniversary, and already there were Elvis impersonators camping out, preparing for the next day.
As you approach Graceland you'll notice the onslaught of graffiti left by his adoring fans. Every thing is covered with exception to the historical marker which is coated with wipeable plastic. Apparently this tradition began when Elvis first put up the wall a year after he purchased Graceland.
After seeing many photos of Graceland, I was disappointed in it's size. Being that Elvis was such a mega star I expected to see "Tara" from "Gone With the Wind," instead it seemed only like a large colonial house.
Originally Elvis was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery at 1661 Elvis Presley Blvd. Later he was exhumed and brought to Graceland by Vernon, Elvis' father. There were two reasons for the move to Graceland, one, two guys attempted to steal the King one night so Vernon thought that Elvis would be safer in a more protected environment. Two, it would be financially advantageous to have Elvis buried in Graceland as an added attraction.
Here's Elvis' interment card showing his removal from Forest Hill to Graceland.
Elvis' Uncle Vester who guarded the gates of Graceland for many years.
This is the interment card for Elvis' Mama Gladys who was also moved to Graceland.
The envelope the cards came in (So you all know I didn't break into Forest Lawn to steal the interment cards! lol).
Recently Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie had expressed her disgust on how her father's grave is turning into a side show attraction. She is apparently considering having him moved to a secret location.
Forest Hill Cemetery, Elvis' prior place of interment, once kept the King's empty crypt on display as a tribute, and perhaps to attract people to visit their cemetery. But since overzealous fans were destroying the place, the cemetery thought it wise to remove Elvis' name and to put the crypt up for sale at an exorbitant price.
The week of August !6th kicks off Elvis week at Graceland. This is when thousands from around the world gather to pay tribute to the King. At night, everyone is given candles as they line up to walk up Graceland’s drive-way and past Elvis’ grave to pay their respects.
Forest Hill Cemetery
1661 S. Elvis Presley Blvd.
Removed From Crypt C to
3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Directions: From I- 55 exit 5B. If you just want to see Elvis' grave and bypass the whole Graceland thing, follow the signs to the pool. There you will find them Elvis, his father Vernon, his mother Gladys, and his grandmother. Tip: Be EXTREMELY respectful when there, most Elvis fans are very serious about their idol and will not hesitate to let you know if you are stepping out of line. So if you don't want a scene, behave or be gone.
The map of Graceland
...and my ticket. I didn't bother going into the mansion because I just wanted a photo of his grave. But curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see a little bit of the house without waiting on the excessively loooong line (approximately 4000 people visit daily and even more when it's Elvis Week). So I pulled a "Lucy" and pretended that I got separated from my husband and walked into the exit. I got as far as the "Jungle Room" and the kitchen. The "Jungle Room's" birth is pretty interesting. Apparently Elvis' father (who appears to have more taste) went into town, while he was there he saw , what he called "the world's most ugliest furniture." When he returned to Graceland he told Elvis about it and Elvis ran to town to check out the hideous furniture. I guess it was love at first site, because he bought the whole mess and brought it back to Graceland along with lime green shag carpeting that he had installed on both the ceiling and floor. This room is where Elvis kept his friends waiting for him (talk about a test of friendship). This room is the ugliest room of furniture I have ever seen, it is beyond the 70's look!
"ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!"
Horace Lee Logan, founder and long time producer of the "Louisiana Hayride," the very same show that gave Elvis his big break. It all started in 1954, when Sam Phillips of Sun Records sent Logan a demo recording of the 19 year old Presley. The demo was "That's All Right Mama" and on the flip side "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Presley believe it or not, was touted as a white kid that sang black.
Elvis' act was a sharp contrast to the "Hayride's" regular country crooners, but Logan took a chance on the unknown artist and October 16, 1954, Elvis debuted on the show. The "Lousiana Hayride" was broadcasted live on KWKH, a 50,000 watt station in Shreveport, Louisiana that reached 28 states.
Logan made note of the studio audience's polite response to the young singer and shrewdly signed him for a regular gig. Even though Presley had not yet incorporated the hip swivel and sultry sneer, girls were quick to become enamored.
After two years of touring the South and the Southwest, Elvis began to draw national attention which led to more prominate engagements. This made doing the "Hayride" on a regular basis very difficult. So he had no alternative but to buy out his contract for an unheard of $10,000.
Upon ending his contract he had one stipulation, that he give one last performance. So on December 15, 1956, Elvis rocked the "Hayride." Ten-thousand kids jammed the building to hear the King and instead of sitting passively, they screamed at the top of their lungs for the whole 45 minute show.
After Elvis had sung his final encore and left the stage, the crowd headed for the exits, despite the fact that there were still other acts scheduled.
Logan took the microphone and tried to convince the Elvis disciples to return to their seats. He said the following words: "Please, young people....Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away....Please take your seats."
The words became part of the Elvis legend and were repeated at many subsequent shows.
Who coined the phrase "Elvis has left the building!" ?
Well, Fellow Gravehunters, which one is it?????