August 16 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock n’ Roll. He’s one of the most famous and written about people of all time, so we hope you didn’t already know these facts about him. (And for reading it…thank ya very much.)
Elvis was naturally blond, and used a variety of substances to give himself that signature jet-black hair. Eventually he settled on commercial hair dye, specifically Miss Clairol 51 D, or “Black Velvet.”
While it was something of a surprise when Elvis put his white-hot career on hold in 1958 to honor his draft notice and serve his time in the Army, this wasn’t his first time to be involved with the military. Elvis was a standout member of his high school’s ROTC unit, which he joined his sophomore year.
Elvis famously had a very large appetite. His favorite foods were biscuits and gravy, potato cheese soup, meat loaf, and peanut butter, bacon, banana, and honey sandwiches. But there was one food Elvis hated: fish. He loathed it so much that he wouldn’t allow his wife, Priscilla, to eat it at home.
Elvis Meets Nixon
The famous photo of Elvis meeting President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office is the most requested document of any kind from the National Archives. The 1970 meeting—in which Nixon made Elvis an honorary federal drug agent—was kept secret for a year until the Washington Post uncovered it.
Elvis the Cop?
Elvis was quite interested in law enforcement. When he turned 36 in 1971, he purchased a bunch of police equipment. Then he’d drive around Memphis with a flashing blue light on top of a car (along with several guns) and pull over drivers. Then he’d introduce himself and give the driver an autograph.
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage
The older he got, the more Elvis would ramble, chat, and riff on stage. In 1974, an entire album of Elvis’s rantings was released. Not necessarily because anyone wanted it—Having Fun With Elvis On Stage was made to quickly and cheaply to complete a multi-album record deal.
In the ‘70s, Elvis became obsessed with martial arts. In the middle of shows, he’d stop the music for a 15-minute karate demonstration. He even made plans to make one more “Elvis movie,” in which he played the greatest karate master in the world.
The late Patrick Swayze believed that Elvis was his guardian angel. Four separate psychics told Swayze as much.
It seems like it’s been since the day Elvis died that people have claimed to see the King out and about—the implication being that he faked his death to retire into a more quiet life. But the first big Elvis sighting didn’t occur until 1988. A woman from Kalamazoo, Michigan, told the local newspaper that she saw “Elvis” at a grocery store, and that her daughter spotted him at a Burger King.