Long before the King ascended to the big screen himself, he was obsessed with movies. As a teenage usher at Memphis’ Loew’s State Theater, Elvis Presley memorized lines from King Solomon’s Mines and The Prince Who Was a Thief. A decade later, he would frequently rent the Memphian Theatre for private screenings. His eclectic tastes ranged from Peter Sellers vehicles (particularly Dr. Strangelove) to the artsy Letter From an Unknown Woman.
Eventually, the rock & roll pioneer became an early video maven. In Graceland’s gaudy, mirror-ceilinged TV room, Elvis had a professional three-quarter-inch VCR hooked into a trio of TV sets. ”The damn thing weighed nine tons,” says Lamar Fike, a former member of Presley’s inner circle. Some videos from the King’s collection are now on display at Graceland: Oral Roberts: We the People, The Return of the Pink Panther; part of the Ali-Norton fight, 1971 New York Giants highlights, The Godfather, Executive Action, and Monty Python episodes.
His Velvet Majesty’s interest in the then-revolutionary video recorder was apparently sporadic. At the very least, according to Fike, Elvis may have been the first person who couldn’t figure out how to get his VCR to record: ”He had one of us do it for him.”