Elvis History | 1958-1961 | Graceland

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3717 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116

Only 10 minutes from downtown and 3 minutes from the Memphis Airport.

The Guest House at Graceland

3600 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116

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1958 - 1961

1958 - 1961

Late January- Early March 1958

Elvis films and records for his fourth motion picture, "King Creole," often recognized as one of the best Elvis movies.

March 24, 1958

The Elvis Army years begin as Elvis Presley is inducted into the U.S. Army at the Memphis Draft Board and is assigned serial number 53310761.

March 25, 1958

Elvis gets his famous G.I. haircut at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

March 28, 1958

Elvis arrives at Fort Hood, Texas, for basic training and is stationed there for six months. 

June 10, 1958

After basic training, while on his first leave, Elvis has a recording session. This is his last recording session until 1960. Among the songs recorded is "A Big Hunk O' Love." 

June 20, 1958

Elvis' parents soon move into a temporary trailer near the Army base at Fort Hood, Texas. They move into a house on July 1. 

July 2, 1958

“King Creole,” Elvis’ fourth motion picture opens nationally and the reviews are the best he will ever have for his acting. Its impressive list of co-stars and supporting cast includes Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dean Jagger and Vic Morrow. It becomes a top five film at the box office. The movie is set in New Orleans and based upon the Harold Robbins novel, "A Stone for Danny Fisher." This is Elvis in his prime – The film will come to be regarded as one of the best Elvis movies, his greatest acting performance, and proof of his potential to have become a respected serious actor, though the realization of this desire will remain forever out of his grasp. 

August 8, 1958

Gladys Presley becomes ill and returns to Memphis via train to be hospitalized with acute hepatitis. Elvis is granted emergency leave and arrives in Memphis on the afternoon of August 12. He visits her that night, and the next day and night. A few hours after Elvis goes home to Graceland to rest, she dies in the early hours of August 14 at age 46. Her body lies in state at Graceland that afternoon. Services are at the Memphis Funeral Home on the 15, with the Blackwood Brothers singing "Precious Memories" and "Rock of Ages," two of Gladys Presley’s favorite hymns. She is laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery, close to Graceland. Elvis is devastated. 

August 24, 1958

Elvis reports back to Fort Hood. 

September/October 1958

Elvis boards a troop train to New York on September 19, and then later boards the USS Randall and sails to Germany, arriving on October 1. He will be stationed in Friedberg for 18 months, maintaining an off-base residence in Bad Nauheim, shared with his father, grandmother and some friends from Memphis. Elvis’ Army years expose him to fans in Europe and he finds them to be as enthusiastic as those in the U.S. 

January 8, 1959

Elvis is interviewed off-camera via trans-Atlantic telephone by Dick Clark on “American Bandstand” on ABC-TV. The show commemorates the star’s 24th birthday. Later in January, the family moves from a hotel to a rented house. Also, Elvis poses with actress Vera Tschechowa and the March of Dimes poster child. Colonel Parker continues to keep Elvis’ career alive with promotions and hit record releases. 

March 3 – 5, 1959

On a three-day leave, Elvis travels to Munich where he visits actress Vera Tschechow and the Moulin Rouge. 

June 13 – 27, 1959

Elvis visits Paris and Munich.  

August 15, 1959

Captain Joseph Beaulieu moves from Texas to Weisbaden Air Force Base near Friedberg, Germany, accompanied by his wife and children, including his 14 year-old stepdaughter, Priscilla Ann. Priscilla is the only child from Ann Beaulieu’s marriage to her first husband, James Wagner, a Navy pilot who was killed in a plane crash when Priscilla was an infant. 

September 13, 1959

Through a mutual friend, Priscilla is invited to a party at Elvis’ home soon after her arrival in Germany. They meet and the rest is history. 

January 8, 1960

Elvis does a second phone interview with Dick Clark. A birthday party for Elvis includes 200 invited guests, including Priscilla. Joe Esposito and others present him with a trophy inscribed, "Elvis Presley. Most Valuable Player. Bad Nauheim Sunday Afternoon Football Association, 1959.” 

January 12 – 17, 1960

Elvis goes on a second leave to Paris with his karate instructor, Jurgen Seydel, to study with Japanese karate teacher, Tetsuji Murakami. He takes lessons every day in the shotokan technique.

January 20, 1960

Elvis is promoted to Sergeant. He leaves on maneuvers on the 24th and will get his full sergeant's stripes on February 11, 1960. 

March 1960

The Elvis Army years come to an end on March 2 at 5:25 p.m. as Elvis leaves Germany and arrives in New Jersey the next day for a press conference. He is officially discharged from active duty on March 5, 1960, at 9:25 a.m. He boards a train for Memphis, arriving on March 8. Press and crowds of fans are everywhere for this historic series of events. He holds a press conference at Graceland in his father’s office behind the mansion on March 8. He has served his country just like any other G.I., with no special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him. These two years away from his career have been a time to mature. He has also worried constantly that his lengthy absence might have damaged his career progress. 

March 20, 1960

Elvis has his first post-Army recording session. Some of the recording work is for the album “Elvis is Back!,” which will hit #2 on the Billboard pop chart. The album includes the single “Stuck On You,” which is rushed to the pressing plant and packaged in a generic sleeve without waiting for orders. Debuting at #84, it took only three weeks to hit #1. Sessions will continue in early April. 

March 26, 1960

Elvis tapes a special "Welcome Home, Elvis" edition of Frank Sinatra’s ABC-TV variety show, for which he is paid $125,000, a record sum for a variety show appearance at the time.

April 21, 1960

Elvis begins filming video and recording audio for his first post-Army movie, his fifth film, “GI Blues,” for Paramount. This is the third of nine Elvis films to be produced (not consecutively) by Hal Wallis. “GI Blues” co-stars dancer/actress Juliet Prowse. Director Norman Taurog would end up working with Elvis on several other films throughout his acting career. 

May 12, 1960

ABC airs “Frank Sinatra’s Welcome Home, Elvis” edition of his variety show, which attracts a 41.5% share of the national television audience. 

July 3, 1960

Vernon Presley marries divorcee and mother of three sons, Davada (Dee) Stanley, an American whom he met Germany, where she had been stationed with her military husband. They live at Graceland briefly, then move to a home nearby. 

July 21, 1960

Elvis receives his first degree black belt in karate, an interest he developed while in the Army. Elvis carries the certificate in his wallet until his death. 

August/September 1960

Elvis records and films for his sixth movie, “Flaming Star,” a drama with limited music. Elvis plays the son of a white father and a Native American mother, torn between the two cultures in the 1800's. The film co-stars Barbara Eden.

October 1960

The soundtrack album for “GI Blues” enters the Billboard album chart and soon goes to #1. It remains #1 for 10 weeks and stays on the chart for 111 weeks. It is to be the most successful album of Elvis’ entire career on the Billboard charts. (“GI Blues” was the most successful album on the music charts. However, “Blue Hawaii” was the biggest selling album during Elvis’ life, selling 2 million copies in the first 12 months.)

November 6, 1960

Elvis begins recording and filming for his seventh film, “Wild in the Country,” which will be completed in January. “GI Blues” opens nationally on November 23 to warm reviews and big box office sales, making it one of the best Elvis movies of his post-Army career. It was #2 the first week and for the year on Variety’s list. By 1969, Variety reports it had grossed 4.3 million, equal to “The African Q.”

December 22, 1960

“Flaming Star” opens nationally to warm reviews, but unlike “GI Blues,” this dramatic film with little singing, does not set the box office on fire. It was #12 for the week. Elvis does however earn recognition from a tribal council for his positive portrayal of a Native American in this racially charged drama. The film is banned in South Africa due to its interracial theme. 

February 25, 1961

Elvis appears at a luncheon in his honor in Memphis. His most recent awards are on display for the press and guests. Following a press conference, Elvis performs an afternoon and evening show at Ellis Auditorium to benefit around 38 Memphis-area charities. Other than the Sinatra television show, these shows are the only times Elvis has performed live since his Army discharge. 

“Elvis Presley Day” is proclaimed by Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington. Every year after this, Elvis donates money to a list of Memphis-area charities, eventually reaching 50 or more, usually around Christmas time. Within a few years, to show their appreciation, the city gives him a massive plaque listing 50 charities. 

March 25, 1961

Elvis arrives in Hawaii for a press conference, then an evening concert at Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor. He is there to perform a benefit to help fund the building of the USS Arizona Memorial. Hundreds of fans mob the airport as he arrives. His show raises around $62,000 for the memorial. The event also helps bring publicity, public awareness and support to the project. The fund-raising efforts, for the most part, had been difficult up to this point. The rest of the needed funds are soon raised and the memorial is completed a year later. Elvis receives numerous official honors in appreciation for this benefit. This turns out to be Elvis’ last live, non-movie performance until his 1968 television special. 

Late March/Mid-April 1961

Elvis remains in Hawaii to do location filming for his eighth motion picture, “Blue Hawaii,” having already done soundtrack recording. Later, there is additional filming to be done back in Hollywood for this film, which will open later in the year. With this second and longer visit, Hawaii would become one of Elvis’ lifelong favorite places to vacation. 

June 22, 1961

“Wild in the Country,” co-starring Hope Lange, Millie Perkins and Tuesday Weld, opens nationally to mixed reviews. Like “Flaming Star,” it is a melodrama with limited singing by Elvis, and not one of his most successful motion pictures. Also in June, the album “Something For Everybody” is shipped. It hits the charts in July, staying for 25 weeks and spending three of those weeks at #1. 

July - August, 1961

Elvis records and films for his ninth motion picture, “Follow That Dream.” Filming includes some location shooting in Florida. 

September 1961

Elvis spends the month vacationing in Las Vegas. 

October 1961

The soundtrack album for “Blue Hawaii” enters the Billboard chart for a year-and-a-half run, staying at #1 for 20 weeks, second only to "GI Blues" as the biggest album of Elvis’ career on the Billboard charts. It also yields a #2 single destined to become an Elvis classic, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” 

Non-movie-related recordings and hit records have continued through this period, with “Good Luck Charm” hitting #1 in 1962, his last number one pop hit until “Suspicious Minds” in 1969. 

October/November, 1961

Elvis records and films for his 10th motion picture, “Kid Galahad,” completing it on December 20, 1961. 

November 22, 1961

“Blue Hawaii” opens nationally to warm reviews. The film hits #18 on the box office charts for 1961 and #14 for 1962. It earns recognition as one of the Best Elvis movies, and is top-grossing film of his career thus far. Its characteristics of a non-cerebral plot, lavish scenery, lots of songs by Elvis, and lots of pretty girls, become the basis for the “Presley formula” movies of the sixties. 

December 1961

Other than the Elvis Army years, this is the only Christmas Elvis will spend away from Graceland. He will spend from December 22 to January 29 in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Elvis' life and career from 1962 - 1965. Also, be sure to keep up with the latest Elvis news by following @VisitGraceland on Twitter or liking Elvis Presley's Graceland on Facebook.