The Memphis, Tennessee home of Elvis Presley remains a tourist destination decades after his death. However, if some of Presley’s associates had their way, they would have sold Graceland within a year of the singer’s 1977 death. It was his ex-wife, Priscilla, who saved Graceland.
In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Tonight on the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death, Prisicilla Presley told the story of how she fought to keep Graceland. Now, Graceland is open to reportedly 600,000 visitors per year.
Part of Elvis Presley remains in Graceland says Priscilla
Graceland was more than just a lavish rock star home. It became a museum to the career and persona of Elvis Presley.
“When you come here and you see everything that he accomplished, I think even when he was able to afford so much, he never lost who he was,” Priscilla told ET. “He was still God-fearing, he still loved to entertain, he was very, very generous, he was very authentic. What you see is what you got with Elvis. He wasn’t trying to be anyone else. And he was a very, very special human being and we were all gifted to have him.”
Priscilla Presley almost lost Graceland
By 1977, Priscilla and Elvis had already been divorced for four years. Nevertheless, she was involved in preserving his estate. Priscilla recalls the associates, whom she did not name specifically, who advised her to sell Graceland.
“I was told that we couldn’t afford the taxes, income and state, and that we should probably sell it,” Priscilla told ET. “I was very much alone in that decision because I said, ‘There’s no way we’re going to do that.’ And they said that Elvis would be forgotten in six months.”
How Priscilla Presley saved Elvis’s home
Priscilla sought out her own experts to help her keep Graceland. It proved to be a profitable enterprise, but in 1977, she was only doing it to honor Elvis’s wishes.
“So, I then had to roll up my sleeves and go on a path of my own to start finding help to keep it,” Priscilla told ET. “I guess [my] state of mind was not just survival, but to keep a promise.”
Priscilla Presley is still in the Elvis business
The continuing interest in Elvis has helped Priscilla cope in the years since he died. The fans who visit Graceland are among those who help keep Elvis’s memory alive.
I’m around so many fans coming in and doing some interviews, and it’s a definite reminder of his passing, and of course, thinking about him at this particular time. [It was] a devastating time for myself and of course, the world, to hear the news, and it’s still unbelievable because he’s so much a part of our lives — my life and my daughter’s life and everyone around him. When we get together, we talk about it, and the impact it made … for myself, and for my cohorts, who of course knew Elvis so well, we never thought he’d pass. We just never, ever had that in our minds.
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