by Phyllis Norwood-Robinson
As we enetered Graceland, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame was welcomed by Marcella Graham who was our personal guide to view the new displays celebrating Elvis Presley's 66th birthday on January 8, 2001.
We were first led into the Annex Building, where we met with Jennifer Montgomery who is originally from Indiana, now residing in Memphis, TN. Jennifer is a knowledgeable tour operator and we are grateful for the detailed information she gave us on the new exhibits in the Annex, that showcased mid-1970's decor.
This building was originally a 4-car garage that was last remodeled into a small apartment. It now exhibits a white fur bed, a dresser along with a large tiger statue. These items are from Elvis' private upstairs dressing room in the mansion.
The plush red sofa displayed is from a living room set that Elvis purchased in 1974, the same he chose red for the living room and foyer. Elvis planned this redecoration with Memphis designer Bill Eubanks and Linda Thompson, his girlfriend for several years in the '70s.
Also new in the Annex Building, brought downstairs from Elvis' study room, is a desk that has a built-in television and intercom system. It was a gift from RCA. On the desk you'll find books, stationary, a pen set and phone.
Another added exhibit, in this area, is the wardrobe of Elvis' parents that held Mr. Presley's painter pants and Gladys' house dress. Boxing gloves, baseball glove, goggles, karate gear, water bottles and a leather saddle has used when riding his Rising Sun are now displayed. All these items were part of his workout equipment, including his 1963 karate (his favorite sport) uniform.
The "touch exhibit" pictured above, is a stunning replica of Elvis' American Eagle cape. The eagle design is faithful to the original cape that Elvis wore during his Aloha from Hawaii satellite special.
Marcella then led us into the Trophy Room where the entrance has been redesigned. One of the new exhibits is Elvis' Gold Suit. This famous, stage costume was created, from the suggestion of Col. Tom Parker, in 1957 by Nudies of Hollywood. The leather guitar displayed, circa 1956, is one of several guitar covers used by EP in the '50s.
Inside the Trophy Room, the Army area, now displays Elvis; 1959 Army Jacket. This jacket is the one he gave Priscilla upon departing Germany in 1960. The green military coat was on the cover of Life magazine.
This is the Kid Galahad robe and boxing gloves that were worn in the 1961 movie.
The Charity Wall has numerous $1,000 checks that Elvis had donated to various organizations. One of the most the memorable checks was written to Cynthia's Milk Fund. A charity that supplied formula to needy babies.
The Racquetball building now holds many of Elvis' 1970 jump suits. We were introduced to a special guide, Tim Estes. He was very helpful and thorough with the information he shared with us. The first jump suit displayed is the one EP wore in June of 1972 at the sold-out Madison Garden show. On January 14, 1973, the television special "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - via Satellite" was seen by 1-1/2 billion viewers in 40 countries. The white jump suite he wore then had a floor length cape that created was so heavy he couldn't manouver. They made a waist length replica for him wear on stage. The tan bottom-up casual suite is what he wear getting off the plane from Hawaii. This is a type of leisure suit was typical casual wear for the king. The displayed jump suits are a few of the almost 1000 costumes that Elvis had made for his Las vegas engagements and tours throughout the early and mid '70s. Made of a wool - gabordine blend they were designed by Bill Blew and made by the I.C. Costume Company. The style of the suits evolved through the years ... from heavily studded suits with capes to the embroidered designs in the mid '70s. The White Spectrum suit is the one he wore in 1971 to various cities, including Take Tahoe, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Knoxville.
Graceland Mansion: Elvis Presley's home. He purchase it in 1957, when he was just 22 years old.
Phyllis and Marcella
Special thanks to the folks at EP Enterprises, Memphis, TN
Graceland ToursGraceland opened for tours on June 7, 1982 and has been visited by over 600,000 guests yearly. Graceland's visitors come from all over the world and have varied tastes as well as varied knowledge and interest in Elvis. From the fan that has saved and planned to come for years to the husband who comes reluctantly at his wife's request. Graceland has hosted celebrities, actors, rockers, dignitaries as well as heads of state. Over half of the visitors are under 35 years of age proving that Elvis is touching a new generation.
The ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME
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