According to stories from Elvis Presley’s cousin Billy Smith, hanging out at Graceland was comparable to going to the zoo. When Presley moved into the mansion, stalls for his donkey’s to live in weren’t built yet. So, into the swimming pool they went.
Elvis Presley shot to fame in 1956 as he saw an incredible amount of success in his career that year. That year, Presley earned his first Number 1 single spot with the track “Heartbreak Hotel”. Also in 1956, his self titled full length album also earned a number 1 spot. That same year, the performer signed a movie contract with Paramount Pictures. His 20th Century Fox film, “Love Me Tender” was a box office hit in 1956 as well. Despite how controversial Elvis was for his provocative hip movements and dance style, he also became a go-to guest star on many television shows.
After a wildly busy and successful year in 1956, Elvis Presley purchased his infamous Memphis mansion, Graceland, in 1957. Shortly after Elvis bought the property, his parents requested farm animals to roam the huge property. Memphis Mafia member Lamar Fike trekked down to Mississippi with The King in a swanky yellow Cadillac to fulfill that request. Elvis bought lots of chickens, ducks, and a turkey that became famously known as “Bow Tie.”
Since he had no official way of getting the animals back to Graceland, Elvis stuffed the ducks into the trunk. The rest of the animals roamed the backseat for the drive back.
Elvis Presley Brought Animals to Graceland Himself
According to Presley’s cousin Billy Smith via the Memphis Mafia Kid Youtube channel, the pair were covered in animal poop by the time they made it back to the mansion. Smith says Vernon exclaimed,‘Lord God son! What’s happened?!” to which Elvis replied,““Oh nothing, it’s all these damn chickens right here. We forgot to tie them up and then they [went] wild!” The limo had to be fumigated several times afterwards. Shortly after, the limousine went up for sale.
Elvis’s family also had donkeys brought in to join the animal family. The problem was that when they arrived, the stalls and fences being built for them weren’t finished.
In the midst of the move to Graceland, Elvis had to travel to Los Angeles to shoot a movie. In his absence, Billy’s father Travis Smith took over responsibilities for overseeing belongings being moved in, as well as some of the incoming animals. Smith, who’s also The King’s uncle, became Head of Security at Graceland.
Interesting Problems Call For Interesting Solutions
While trying to figure out where to put the donkeys during the move, Smith noticed that the spot for the swimming pool had been dug out. However, nothing was being built yet, so the space was empty. The donkeys were lowered into the space so they couldn’t wander off, and Smith didn’t have to worry about losing them in the midst of all the chaos. Billy recalls, “They put them in the pool and kept them in there for a while!”
Billy also clarified that despite rumors of Graceland’s pool being guitar-shaped, that it’s closer to being the shape of a kidney.
The pool is still on the property today, next to the Meditation Garden where Elvis Presley is buried.