All shot up…TV shows dark side of Elvis

Elvis Presley had a reputation as a night owl and a new exhibit at the Graceland museum gives a peek into his nocturnal activities.

Elvis Presley had a reputation as a night owl and a new exhibit at the Graceland museum gives a peek into his nocturnal activities.

A jukebox, wrapped in yellow and green neon, provided a steady supply of popular music. Film clips show family and friends discussing late-night excursions to an amusement park or his favourite cinema, which he would rent for the night.

And then there’s the television with a bullet hole in the screen.

“This is the only surviving television or appliance that Elvis shot out that was kept,” said Kevin Kern, a spokesman for Graceland, Presley’s long-time Memphis, Tennessee, residence.

Presley, it seems, had a habit of occasionally breaking out a firearm from his gun collection and shooting at TVs and other items.

As the story goes, entertainer Robert Goulet was performing on TV when Presley blasted the 25-inch RCA that’s part of the exhibit called Elvis After Dark.

“There was nothing Elvis had against Robert Goulet. They were friends,” Kern said. “But Elvis just shot out things on a random basis.”

There were no reports Presley hurt anybody with his gunslinging, but he was known to have a fascination with firearms. He converted part of a rear building at the estate into a firing range.

Another display also opened yesterday at Graceland’s Sincerely Elvis Museum, which changes its exhibits annually to show off thousands of artefacts that are not part of regular displays at the mansion.

The new show is focused on the explosion of Presley’s career in 1956, when he got his first gold record and his first big-time TV exposure.

Gerri Resch of Belford, New Jersey, saw Elvis on one of his first TV appearances and the clips shown in the exhibit “brought back a lot of memories”.

“One of my sisters, the older one, was going nuts,” Resch said. “He seemed to make everybody happy. But of course our mother said he was disgusting.”

Presley died of heart disease and drug abuse at Graceland in 1977. The After Dark exhibit makes no mention of how his use of prescription drugs may have affected his leisure activities.

Presley also collected badges from police and sheriff’s departments around the country and was even given a federal law enforcement ID during an uninvited visit with President Richard Nixon in 1970.

Red, blue and yellow dashboard lights similar to those used by police or fire departments also are part of Elvis After Dark.

Presley, a “special deputy” appointed by the local sheriff, used the lights from time to time to play lawman.

“Elvis was the type of guy that would pull over people who he thought were speeding and give them a warning and send them home with an autograph,” Kern said.

A large photo shows Presley at the night-time scene of a traffic accident near Graceland. Beside the picture is the red leather trench coat he was wearing.

“He was passing by the accident scene and he stopped to see if he could help,” Kern said.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up