January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977
“I’ve never been ‘strung out’ in my life, except on music.”
Graceland mansion is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, in Memphis Tennessee. Convenient. Imagine buying a home on a street that was named after you.
Elvis entertained friends on the evening August 15, 1977. He played the piano and sang through the next morning when he played racquetball. He finally went to bed around 8 a.m. His fiancé, Ginger Alden, was staying with him, but sleeping in a different room. She was the last person to see him alive.
Most stories conclude that Elvis was sitting on the toilet, nude, and reading. He collapsed. By the time Ginger woke up, Elvis had probably been dead for two or three hours. She found him at 2:00 p.m. The medical examiner’s report says that he was found in the dressing room.
Some newspapers said that he was wearing light blue pajamas around his ankles. From the outside of the house, these rooms are on the second floor corner.
There was also a report that the bathroom had been cleaned up, and someone cleaned the adjacent sitting room, and that vomit had been cleaned from the shag carpet in the bathroom. I prefer to believe this.
AUGUST 2001: Findadeath.com friend Mark sends us this map of the upstairs level of Graceland. Thanks, Mark!
At 2:33, a Memphis Fire Department ambulance from Engine House 29 responded to the call and by 2:56, Elvis was in the emergency room of Baptist Memorial Hospital. Check. This. Out.
June 2012: My name is James McQueen. I saw what took place when the ambulance arrived at the Hospital. I was working as a BMET (Biomedical Equipment Technician) and I was working at my bench which overlooks the emergency room parking lot. Fire Department medic ambulance number 6 came in flying into the parking lot like a run away locomotive at an extra high rate of speed. They almost ran into the brick wall surrounding the parking lot, stopping one foot from the wall. They didn’t even back the ambulance up to the emergency room doors like all the other do.
Two men jumped out of the front of the ambulance in a big hurry, one of them looked liked he was wearing a pistol on his side. At first I thought it might be a radio but we repaired medic’s radios and I could spot one a mile away. It wasn’t a radio. I will believe until this day it was a Police officer riding in the front seat with a medic and Dr. Nick and the other medic was in the back working on Elvis. The newspaper said Elvis was already stiff in a fetal position when they arrived, but when they pulled Elvis out of the ambulance he was lying flat as a pancake and shaking like a bowl of jelly as they pushed him across the parking lot to the emergency room doors. They were in such a hurry, I thought they were going to throw him off of the stretcher. His head covered up like a dead man with a sheet, his bare legs and feet sticking out from under the sheet from his knees down.
I went down to the emergency room with my supervisor to see what was taking place. Police officers were all over the place, and they had an officer guarding the door of room #1. You could hear the Doctors were defibrillating Elvis, nurses and doctors were running in and out of the room with medical equipment and supplies. I caught a nurse by her arm and ask her who they were working on. She said, “I’m not allowed to say but it’s a VIP.” I heard some one cry out, “Breathe! Breathe!”. They worked on Elvis for a good 15 minutes before they gave up the effort. I read some where that they even had his vital signs back which means his heart beat and blood pressure but lost it and couldn’t get them back.
After they removed his body I went into the room and turned off all the medical equipment they were using on Elvis. The room was a mess and the Cardio Tracer paper was all over the floor. I marked the Defibrillator Paddles with wire cutters, cutting a (V) out on the rubber sleeve next to the white plug and kept up with the equipment until it was removed and replaced with new equipment.
The Hospital decided one day to replace the equipment and dispose of the old equipment. I asked my supervisor if I could have the equipment they used on Elvis to which he replied “I’ll see what I can do Mac”. A couple of days later he said, “Mac, it’s ok, they said you could have it.” I now own the Defibrillator Paddles, the Cardio Tracer and the original wooden table the equipment sat on. I mounted the Defibrillator Paddles in a gold frame with a clear plastic door on it. I have put the items on display in a Museum. I have paper work from the hospital, a letter from my supervisor and also a letter singed by Dr. Nick testifying he used the Defibrillator Paddles on Elvis I have attached you pictures of the Medical Equipment for you to see.
WOW! Thank you, Mac.
He was officially pronounced dead there at 3:30 pm. The announcement was made to the public at 4 p.m. After the announcement was made, 150 fans gathered outside the hospital waiting for whatever.
Elvis Presley was 42 years old.
Police on the scene said that there was no indication of foul play. His family agreed to an autopsy, and it was performed at Baptist Memorial Hospital. Dr. Jerry Francisco, the medical examiner that signed the death certificate, announced that the preliminary autopsy findings discovered cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular and ineffective heart beat. Elvis died of natural causes, heart. He also said that, “there was no indication of any drug abuse of any kind.” Riiiiight. Supposedly, the contents of Elvis’ stomach and throat had been flushed away by mistake in the Emergency Room of Baptist Memorial Hospital. I prefer to believe this too.
According to Dr. Eric Muirhead, a pathologist who helped perform the autopsy, his body contained a total of 14 drugs, including 10 times the normal dosage of codeine and toxic levels of methaqualone (ludes). This information came out later.
In the autopsy report, the biggest (well, most interesting) revelation (to me) was that Elvis was uncircumcised. See it here. SIKE. Isn’t that interesting? They also noted that there was, “Congestion to forehead and upper torso,” and “HCUD Colon Problem,” whatever that means. Too many peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, or whatever crap that was that he ate.
UPDATE: Thanks to brand new Findadeath.com friend Scott Williams, the San Francisco Paramedic, for the following info: “That “HCUD” thing on the autopsy report is actually “H.C.V.D.” for “hypertensive cardio-vascular disease”. It notes generalized disease of the cardio-vascular system caused by the effects of years of high blood pressure. It does not mean he’s had a heart attack, but would be at risk for one, as well as a stroke. Thanks, Scott!
Meanwhile, the world-wide hysteria began. Thousands of people converged on Graceland. 300 National Guardsmen were called in to maintain order. The mayor of Memphis announced that flags on all city buildings would be flown at half-staff until the funeral.
Elvis’ body was removed from the Baptist Memorial, and taken to the Memphis Funeral Home, where he was embalmed.
Here are the signs in front of the place,
and from what I’ve been told, he was embalmed back here.
No doubt, Elvis’ dad Vernon entered through these doors, carrying Elvis’ last ensemble.
He was dressed in a white suit, white tie and a blue shirt. He had on a gold TCB (Taking Care of Business) lightening bolt ring, his new favorite saying and logo. He even put it on the tail fin of his airplane.
The King was placed in a 900-pound steel-lined copper coffin, flown in from Oklahoma. According to our friend Jamie Farley, the casket was a seamless copper deposit that was flown in on a private plane because the one at the funeral home was not large enough to house Elvis.
Another friend of Findadeath.com (who asked to remain anonymous, but did say he was a former employee of Memphis disc jockey Sam Phillips) knew a man that worked in the funeral home. I quote, “I asked the guy if he thought Elvis was really dead. He told me, “Absolutely. I shoved the cotton balls up his ass when he was embalmed. (NO LIE.)”
February 2002 – Findadeath.com friend KW sends in this: “Another “Was Elvis dead when you saw him?” story. My younger brother was a student volunteer campus policemen/security geek at Vanderbilt University in Nashville around 1985-1989. One of his frequent stops was the Vanderbilt Medical Center where he became chummy with several of the E.R. nurses, one of which was part of the Memphis hospital trauma team when Elvis was first brought in on the day he died. She said that Elvis was in fact “very dead” and had been that way for several hours. In fact, she claims one of the King’s teeth were knocked out of his mouth when they tried to put a breathing tube down his throat – rigor mortis had set in for some time. Also, the Vanderbilt police had several codes for things – like code 100 for possible prowler, code 200 for a “mad dog”, and code 300 for Elvis sighting – no lie.”
God, I love doing this stuff.
Fascinating perspective from Ann Margret
Just before noon on the 17th, Elvis’ body driven back to Graceland,
and up this driveway for the public viewing and funeral.
The first day of Elvis’ post death sightings was on the 17th, in the foyer. Over 75,000 lined up outside the gates, in an attempt to see him in the box, and about 30,000 did, including Caroline Kennedy and James Brown.
My guess is that the celebs got a private viewing. Call me crazy. The official viewing in the afternoon was scheduled for two hours, but that was extended by an hour and a half. He always could please a crowd. This picture of Elvis in his casket has been floating around for years. Couldn’t tell you if it’s authentic or not.
Findadeath.com friend Gregg Lee writes in, April 19, 2001: I thoroughly enjoyed the info about the death of Elvis Presley. I did find one problem, however. If this picture were authentic, the funeral directors at the Memphis Funeral Home put him in the casket backwards. I am a funeral director myself, and the first thing I noticed was the discrepancy. When standing in front of a casket, the directory’s head is always to the left and feet to the right. Every casket in the U.S. is made that way. The casket, I assume, originally came from Batesville Casket Co. in Indiana but was at Hahn-Cook Funeral Home in the Oklahoma City/Edmond, OK area. I just thought I’d point this out. I really like your website and will visit often.
Thanks Gregg. I think I recall the picture when it first came out was normal, and over the years, someone decided to flip the negative. That’s my thought, anyway. Thanks for writing, and for the nice words.
Meanwhile, at Forest Hill Cemetery, Wilbert McGhee, a worker, prepared a crypt for the King’s interment.
He opened the bronze door, removed the marble slab, and placed a black curtain over the grey marble crypt. It was 9 feet long and 27 inches wide.
Here’s a strange bit of the story that often gets ignored. About 4 a.m. on the 18th, funeral day, Alice Marie Hovatar, Juanita Joanne Johnson and Tammy Baiter were just hanging out and chatting with the other 300 or so mourners holding an all night vigil in front of the mansion (as you do). Treatise Wheeler, (yes.) came driving through the area in a 1963 white Ford. He was driving south on Elvis Presley Blvd, but turned off into some lots on the right, (where Elvis Inc. is located now) and he turned around to head back north, here.
His tires were burning. I don’t think the girls knew what hit them. Literally. Wheeler barreled through the crowd, going about 40 or 50 mph. Officer F. M. McCann, who was standing nearby stated, ” I heard the noise of his tires screeching and turned just in time to see his car hit the three bodies, (right here.).
One of the bodies flew up in the air about five feet and landed on the windshield. A second was plastered against the front of the car. The third was being dragged under the car. He dragged her about 20 yards. “The car kept going, dragging the Baiter girl, but began sputtering from the impact of the bodies and slowed to a halt about a block away.
Wheeler jumps out and does a runner, but the cops nabbed him. There were three 16-year-old girls in the car with him. Charming host. Bam. Oops. Cya! Cops said he was staggering, incoherent, and legally drunk. The victims were taken to City of Memphis Hospital. Here’s the car just after the accident.
The two dead girls (Hovatar and Johnson) were mangled beyond recognition, and their purses and identity papers were scattered on the highway. The really scary thing about this part of the story is the Elvis fans that were watching. After the initial excitement calmed, some of them yelled out, “Let’s lynch him!”
I wonder where the girls ended up. And whatever happened to the one that lived?
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2012: Tammy Baiter is the survivor of this horrible event and has recently written a book about it.
This is my interview with her.
On the morning of the funeral, it took 100 vans about 5 hours to remove the flowers from Graceland, to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Elvis was to be interred. Findadeath.com friend Jamie Farley told me that the CEO of F.T.D., Bud Lipinkski, flew to Memphis to handle the flower problem. Interesting. Thanks, Jamie.
Ann-Margret shows up at the Memphis airport for the services. An idiot limo driver, who is supposed to pick Ann up, asks some broad if she was Ann. Broad says “yes,” and idiot driver takes her to Graceland. I mean IN Graceland. So Elvis Inc. figured it out and kicked broad out. Lovely Ann-Margret, who has been waiting patiently in the airport for an hour for her limo, finally gets there. Late.
Ann-Margret (cool.), John Denver (really?), and George Hamilton attended the funeral. Rumor had it, that Sammy, Farrah, Burt Reynolds and the Duke were supposed to be there too, but weren’t. It began at 2 p.m. The Governor of Tennessee attended, and the services were officiated by C.W.Bradley of the Woodale Church of Christ, in Memphis. It was supposed to last for a half-hour, but lasted for 2 hours. Yawn.
There was a funeral procession to take Elvis’ body to the cemetery.
His coffin was taken from the white hearse,
and into the mausoleum.
There was a brief service in the chapel of the mausoleum, just inside these doors.
150 friends, family and celebrities attended it. After a couple of short prayers and poems, his casket was wheeled to corridor Z of the mausoleum, and placed in the crypt. One by one, family paid their final respects. Elvis’ dad Vernon was the last to kiss the coffin. He placed his hand on it, and had to be helped away. It all ended at exactly 4:30 p.m.
Refunds are available at the box office.
Elvis remained entombed at Forest Hill for two weeks. Some reports say that Vernon Presley intended for Elvis to be buried there temporarily, until burial permits could be issued for Graceland. Other sources say there was a body-snatching attempt, and Vernon got spooked, had Elvis exhumed – to be reburied at home. Either way, it was done in secret. Since Elvis was removed, the cemetery has maintained the crypt as a shrine, at their own expense. It is still empty, and for sale now. From what the cemetery staff told me, it ain’t going cheap. We’re talkin over a mil, easy.
We all know that Graceland has turned into a tourist Mecca. For good reason. We went this past July, and LOVED it. Elvis Inc. purchased the land across the road from the house, and made it into a money machine. Three Elvis museums, complete with a souvenir shop in each, adorns this old strip mall. Here’s the entrance,
and this is my ticket.
You can see his airplanes, which were sold off by Vernon, but brought back for the museum.
Ker ching. PAY the extra money to see them. It’s worth it. Here’s my special ticket.
The only thing I suggest you skip on the entire tape-recorded tour of the house and grounds, is the trophy room/stable. Definitely go in and look, but fast forward through the tape, because it is TEE DEE ISS. Trust me.
In May of 1999, according to the London Evening Standard, Lisa Marie Presley wants to “move her father’s body from its grave at Graceland, because she believes visitors are turning it into a freak show.”
This is dawning on her now? Hello! The clue phone is ringing…
This is Elvis’ 8 ball from Graceland. True.
June 2000 – Sue Wilden sends this photograph of the Market Square Area, soon to be a hole in the ground in downtown Indianapolis.
This is the site of Elvis’ last concert. Thanks, SUE!
Trivia: My buddy Kenny Kingston, the psychic, told me that Elvis died because his mother wanted him on the other side.
Her will was so strong, and Elvis couldn’t resist her. He loved her too much.
More Trivia: Elvis made his first recordings at the SUN recording studio, in Memphis.
Great refrigerator magnets, but we didn’t bother with the tour. OH! They do sell a memorial edition of the Memphis newspaper, with a compilation of all the Elvis death week stories.
Even More Trivia: We stopped in Gatlinburg, and went to a very cool Barris customized car museum. In it (along with the Munster’s “DRAGULA” car and the Green Hornet’s “Black Beauty”) was one of Elvis’ cars.
I had to take a picture.
Trivia: Wanna see the Elvis Presley intercom, at the gates? Here you go.
Okay, this time I mean it Trivia: Did you ever see that picture of Lisa Marie Presley made up like Marilyn? It spooked me, fer sher.
I remember a couple of years ago – she did a photo shoot made up like her dead dad. I glanced, but it creeped me out so much, I didn’t buy it. I was a fool.
May 2001: Findadeath.com friend Dave sends us these points of interest:
– Elvis’ casket was flown in on a private plane, because his family wanted him to be buried in the same casket as his mother Gladys was. The Memphis funeral home simply didn’t have such a type of casket.
– Tammy Baiter, the girl that survived the car crash in front of Graceland, underwent several surgeries and was still under treatment over a year after the accident occurred.
– John Denver didn’t attend the funeral services. Only Ann-Margret, James Brown, and George Hamilton attended the funeral, not any other celebs. Caroline Kennedy visited Graceland, but didn’t stay for the funeral services itself.
– The land across the road of Graceland was only partly bought by Elvis Inc., since most of it was already Elvis’ property.
– Elvis was entombed at Forrest Hill Cem. for longer than 2 weeks, in fact his remains and those of his mother were re-buried at Graceland on 3rd October 1977.
April 2002, Findadeath.com friend Paul Curry sends us this: Here’s a pic of Elvis’ grave in the Meditation Garden which is in the grounds of Graceland. I’ve also included a pic showing the rest of his families graves which include his mother Gladys, father Vernon, grandmother Minnie May (who was affectionately called ‘Dodger’ by Elvis) and a remembrance stone of his twin brother Jesse Garon who sadly died at birth. I’ve also included a pic of Lauderdale Courts, the block of flats that the Presley family moved into when they arrived in Memphis from Tupelo when Elvis was all of 13 yrs old!
This building was going to be pulled down, fortunately, the efforts of Mike Freeman and Cindy Hazen’s campaign to save it worked. Mike and Cindy live in the house on Audubon Drive in Memphis that Elvis bought after he hit the big time. I think he made the movies Love Me Tender and Loving You while living here. I’ve also included a pic of this house for you. By the way, Mike Freeman drives the free Sun Studios shuttle bus to and from Graceland.
Update February 2003 The picture that you have of Elvis in his coffin is real. The negative has been flipped over for some reason. CelebrityMorgue.com has the original picture which appeared in the National Enquirer after his funeral.
Joe Esposito, one of his bodyguards/friends/Memphis Mafia members, has said that people are having a hard time believing he died because of things like that picture. He said Elvis doesn’t look like himself in that picture
because of how he was found. He was face down on the floor and since he was dead for so long before being found, his face was slightly “damaged” because of his rigomortis (sp?).
Also, I’m not sure if you know this, but when Elvis died, Lisa Marie (who was 9), immediately called Elvis’ old girlfriend Linda Thompson (who is now married to music producer David Foster).
Also, Lisa Marie is coming out with her own album on April 8, 2003 (it is called “To Whom it May Concern”). She sounds a little bit like her dad, but with a Sheryl Crow type of spin on it. Her music is nothing like her dad’s though (she wrote 99% of her album). Thanks for the info, Erin!
June 2002 – I love this stuff: A long-time maid at Graceland revealed that Elvis had extremely bad body odor. She said that no matter how bad Elvis smelled, though, he just splashed on more cologne. Even so, she said his smell didn’t seem to affect women wanting to sleep with him.
According to an Elvis tell-all, his feet also smelled to high heaven, and he threw his unwashed socks into his suitcase when he was on tour. Then he gave the stinky suitcase to his mother to clean when he got home. The contents were supposedly so odiferous that she had to put on a mask and rubber gloves to wash them.
April 2004, Findadeath.com friend Jerry Hart sends us these fab pics of a recent visit to Graceland, featuring a celeb sighting – Joe Perry, and the infamous Jungle Room.
Thanks Jerry, for sharing!
UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend Anna: I live in Memphis and actually saw Elvis lying in state at Graceland. A friend who had just gotten her driver’s license asked if I wanted to go to Graceland and “check things out” and of course, I did. It was an extremely hot and humid August day, and there were tons of people just standing around the wall and street of Graceland.
No one really knew what was going on and when they were going to let people in to see Elvis. So, my friend and I pushed our way towards the gates of Graceland and were in the first group of 25 people to go in and see Elvis. We had to walk up the long driveway and we were not allowed to deter from the driveway in anyway, or we would be asked to leave. My friend and I walked into the foyer and saw Elvis dead.
There were at least 7 or 8 guys in suits with guns in holsters that were very obvious to see, and we were warned before entering that we could not touch the casket or the body and we had to move in and out very quickly. We walked in and out, and my friend asked if I wanted to go back in and see it again.
Well, of course I did. So, we broke in line and walked through one more time. Imagine what my mother thought when she asked what I did that day!
Also, another tid bit, Elvis had a hairdresser who was called to the funeral home to fix Elvis’ hair. Apparently, there was so much gray in his hair and so little time, he used mascara to make his hair black and to cover the gray.