Why Elvis Presley Carried His Own Utensils: 10 Little-Known Facts About “The King”
Elvis in 1956, at age 21, the year he starred on The Ed Sullivan Show and zoomed to national fame.
Some interesting facts about Elvis that we never knew!
Christine Schultz from The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac
January 11, 2023
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Happy birthday, Elvis! Elvis Presley, aka the “King of Rock and Roll,” was born on January 8, 1935. We all know the name Elvis, yet, despite this popularity, there are still some interesting facts that most people don’t know. For example, do you know Elvis’s favorite snack? Find out!
It was back in July 1954 that Elvis Presley stuttered and shook nervously as he prepared to go onstage for his first outdoor performance at Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee. Just that month, he had cut a recording of “That’s All Right, Mama” with Sun Records, and it had become his first hit. When he stepped out onstage and started to sing, the crowd went wild. He couldn’t understand why and leaned over to ask his manager what was happening. “I’m not really sure,” the manager told Elvis, “but every time you wiggle your left leg, they start to scream. Whatever it is, just don’t stop.” For the next 23 years, he didn’t.
Elvis had launched a new kind of music, combining country, rock, and gospel—and his name gained international recognition. We thought we knew quite a lot about Elvis, but some of these amazing and quirky facts surprised us.
1. Elvis was said to be lonely for the identical twin he lost at birth. The boy was stillborn a half hour before Elvis came into the world at 4:35 A.M. on January 8, 1935, at his parents’ home in Tupelo, Mississippi. His mother Gladys rhymed the name of the twin with Elvis Aaron, calling him Jesse Garon, for their paternal grandfather. Elvis was an old child and very close to his mother so it’s not surprising that he was deeply affected by his twin’s death, even feeling guilty (though, of course, it wasn’t his fault).
2. Elvis never learned to read music. He also never composed any tunes and never wrote any lyrics of his own. Elvis learned everything by ear. His memory was photographic and encyclopedic. He impressed musicians at the Grand Ole Opry with his knowledge of trivia and memorized his lines in Hollywood movies without effort.
As a child, Elvis picked up a few pointers from the music director at his Pentecostal church, a man named Aaron Kennedy (Elvis’s middle namesake), but that was the only boost he got. “When I was four or five,” Elvis once said, “all I looked forward to were Sundays, when we all could go to church. That was the only singing training I ever had.”
His first guitar was a cigar box with a hole cut in it and a string pulled across the hole. In elementary school, he bought a guitar for $5. When he turned ten, his mother took him to the store to buy him a better guitar for his birthday. But at that point, what Elvis wanted more than anything else was a gun or a bicycle. He threw a temper tantrum in front of the music store owner.
3. Like his father, Vernon Presley, Elvis was a natural blond. However, Elvis preferred the darker color of his mother’s hair, so as a teenager he decided to darken his hair. He did it gradually over a three-year period. Once a month, Elvis used a hair-dye kit to touch up his hair, his eyebrows, and his famous sideburns. In fact, Elvis was so conscious about his looks that he had a minor adjustment to the bridge of his nose.
4. Elvis was a black belt in two styles of karate: Tae Kwon Do and Kang Rhee. He read an article about karate while he was in the army, stationed in Germany, and found an instructor nearby. He later went all the way to Paris to track down a respected Korean karate teacher. Back home in Memphis, he continued his training and eventually worked martial arts moves and clothing into his acting scenes. He preferred to be called by his karate name, The Tiger, but was more often referred to by the nickname actor Danny Thomas had given him: Dollface.
5. Elvis’s pink Cadillac was originally blue. He bought the 1955 Cadillac with white interior after receiving his first big earnings as an entertainer. He had it painted pink because pink had been one of his favorite colors since boyhood.
6. Elvis spawned a lipstick craze. Since Elvis admirers often wrote marriage proposals and messages of love on his Cadillac and on the buildings where he performed, Elvis came out with autographed lipstick shades of “hound-dog orange,” “cruel red,” “tender pink,” and “tutti-frutti red.” His ads said, “Always keep me on your lips,” and the girls apparently did, because sales were estimated at more than $20 million a year.
7. Elvis had a food obsession that some called an eating “hobby.” A typical sitting was said to have included eight cheeseburgers; two bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches; and three milk shakes. At Graceland, his cooks were on call 24 hours a day. One of his favorite snacks was a grilled peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich.
8. Elvis carried his own utensils! According to his cousin, when Elvis went to a restaurant, he brought his own spoon, knife, and fork, a habit he had developed as a child even when he ate at relatives’ homes. He was also compulsive about brushing his teeth after every meal.
9. Elvis was a sleepwalker and insomniac. When he was young, his mother took the inside knob off his bedroom door at night so that he wouldn’t wander off and hurt himself.
10. Elvis dabbled in numerology and was also somewhat superstitious. If a black cat crossed the road ahead of his car, he would search for another route, even if it took him miles out of the way. He was careful always to dress in the same order: first the right sleeve, then the right pant leg, right sock, and right shoe, before dressing his left side. His cousin once said, “Elvis was superstitious to the point of being suspicious of anyone who wasn’t superstitious.”
So, did any of these Elvis facts surprise you? Please tell what you knew (or didn’t know) below! And happy birthday to “The King.”