Despite a thriving career, the music icon was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a private between March 1958 and March 1960. Mind you, that was when he was already holding court at the top of the charts , had swanky cars, a fan base frenzy and lots of cash piled high. However, even though he was offered to enlist in the special services (a safer choice), he turned it down, saying, “I have a duty that I must fulfill and I will do it. ” It actually thawed the haters out a bit, and by the time he finished his service, his fandom had grown by the legions.
6. Karate Kid
Well, maybe not a kid per se, but Elvis took to the art of karate just like his fans did with his rich baritone. His training began in Germany, where he was stationed, and continued long after his return to America. He earned his first degree black belt in Memphis under Hank Slemansky. Sometime later, he trained with Master Kang Rhee, who rewarded him with his seventh-degree black belt. It is said that he even opened his own karate studio, the Tennessee Karate Institute.
7. Hedonistic relationship with women
Elvis had – let’s just say – a proclivity for (much) younger women who, unsurprisingly, tended to revere him as heroes, and by his own admission he could “train”. His whirlwind romance with Priscilla largely stems from these factors and will eventually end bitterly because she’s had enough of being his “doll”. Priscilla was 14, Elvis 24 when they first met and after a seven-year courtship the couple were married. Salacious rumors, fueled by Priscilla’s revelation of the king in recent years, have accompanied their union. When they finally decided to call it quits in 1972, Elvis returned to a dating group of, uh, younger women, with names like Reeca Smith and Ginger Alden coming to mind.
8. Chummy with Nixon
Sometime in the 1970s, Elvis, in another fit of unpredictability, decided he wanted a federal narcotics officer badge because…why not. He arrived in Washington and let President Nixon know that he would stay as long as necessary to earn this badge. Nixon complied and the two met, with Elvis covering a range of bizarre topics like how the Beatles were responsible for anti-American sentiment and how he had studied communism and the rise of psychedelic drug culture. For some reason, Nixon ended up giving him the badge, but ahem, one without any powers.
9. The mysterious origins of his manager
Elvis never performed outside of North America and Canada, and it could have been at the behest of his shrewd longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by the venerable Tom Hanks in the biopic. Parker was Dutch and an illegal immigrant to America. Some even believe he was responsible for a gruesome murder in his hometown before he left it in 1929. Perhaps it was Parker’s fear of not being allowed to return to the country that compelled Elvis not to occur only in these safe spaces.
10. The haunting story behind “Heartbreak Hotel”
One of Elvis’ masterpieces, Altar of broken hearts holds a morbid origin story. The song, written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton, is said to be based on a lonely man who jumped out of a hotel window, leaving behind a note that simply read, “I’m walking down a lonely street.” The duo approached the King at a music convention in 1955, and the powerful track was born.
11. He never wrote a single song
Speaking of writing songs… turns out Elvis didn’t. He lent his unrivaled voice, insurmountable skills and creative juices to the final product, sure, but he didn’t actually write the powerful lyrics to his songs that we can sing along to in our sleep.
12. Cartoon Nerd
Yes, the king of rock and roll was a huge comic book nerd. Turns out he was obsessed with the famous DC character Captain Marvel Jr. and even styled parts of his look after the superhero, namely his long sideburns and hairstyle. He also mimicked some of his wildest outfits (read: the ones with the capes and lightning bolts) after the character, who is said to be a younger version of Shazam, and quoted the former’s famous catchphrase: “take care business in a flash.” In fact, Elvis’ impressive comic book collection still finds its way into Graceland.
13. Change lyrics on a whim
Apparently, the icon sometimes disturbed his fans by changing the lyrics of his songs, on stage. Whether he did it for the laughs or is rooted in a deeper need to know if anyone noticed, it’s a truth that remains as elusive as the king himself.
14. Someone tried to steal his body
Elvis was a musical idol for decades, but even in death his legacy remained rich and intact. However, that kind of fame often invites a certain type of uncontrolled mania. For example, do you remember when a couple of thieves tried to steal the 900-pound, steel-lined, copper-plated coffin that contained his corpse, for ransom? Although their attempts were fortunately foiled, the king was moved and put to final rest in Graceland’s meditation garden.