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ELVIS CONTRACT FACTS
(by Jeff Schrembs 2020 All Rights Reserved):
Contract # 1 - Paramount on April 25, 1956
Elvis’ first move contract was for a “1 picture deal” with the option for “6 more”. Elvis received $15,000 for the first movie, $20,000 for the second, $25,000 for the third, and increasing to a maximum of $100,000 for the seventh. The Colonel negotiated a provision that allowed Elvis to star, with another studio, for “1 picture per year”. The movies were entitled “Loving You (1957) and King Creole (1958)”. In January 1957 the Colonel renegotiated a $ 50,000.00 bonus, due to the box office success, for Loving You. Nine months later, in November, the Colonel renegotiated successfully for Elvis to receive $30,000 in expenses as well as another $50,000 bonus for King Creole.
Contract # 2 - 20th Century Fox August 1956
The Colonel negotiated a contract which Elvis received $100,000. Elvis would also be “billed” as “co-starring”, in the movie promos and on the movie theatres marquees, otherwise known as “second billing”. Additionally it gave Fox an option for a “2 picture deal” with Elvis to receive the sums of $150,000 and $200,000 respectfully. The Colonel renegotiated in October 1958 for Elvis to receive an increased fee, for the option on the “2 picture deal”, of $200,000 and $250,000. The movies were entitled “Flaming Star (1960) and Wild in the Country (1961)”.
Contract # 3 – Metro Goldwyn Mayer February 1957
The Colonel exerted his right, under the terms of the Paramount contract, to reach an agreement with MGM on a “1 picture deal”. Elvis received $ 250,000.00. The movie was entitled “Jailhouse Rock (1957)”. Worth noting is that the Colonel negotiated a provision, which was previously unheard of in Hollywood, for Elvis to receive 50% of the movie profits.
Contract # 4 - Paramount October 1958
The Colonel renegotiated the 1956 contract so that Elvis received $175,000 along with an option for a “3 picture deal” where Elvis would be paid; $125,000, $150,000, and $175,000. The movie was entitled “G.I. Blues (1960)”.
Contract # 5 - United Artists November 1960
Colonel Parker negotiated a “2 picture deal” and Elvis received $500,000 and 50% of the profits. The movies were entitled “Follow That Dream (1961) and Kid Galahad (1962)”.
Contract # 6 - Paramount January 1961
The Colonel renegotiated the 1958 contract so that Elvis received $175,000 for the first “3 pictures” and $200,000 each for the “last 2 pictures”. This “5 picture deal” included the movies entitled “Blue Hawaii (1960) which would be Elvis most successful motion picture, Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), Fun in Acapulco (1963), Roustabout (1964), and Paradise Hawaiian Style (1966)”. The Colonel renegotiated for Elvis to receive a bonus of $90,000, which the Colonel would receive $45,000.00, for “Paradise Hawaiian Style”.
Contract # 7 - MGM January 1961
The Colonel further enhanced his negotiation skills, after finishing the “5 picture deal” with Paramount, for a “4 picture deal” with MGM. Elvis would receive $400,000 per picture plus $75,000 for expenses and $25,000 for musical expenses. The Colonel included a provision that once MGM recouped $500,000 then Elvis would receive 50% of the profits. The movies were entitled “It Happened At the World’s Fair (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1963), Kissin’ Cousins (1964), and Girl Happy (1965)”.
Contract # 8 - Allied Artists November 1963
Colonel Parker negotiated a “1 picture deal” and Elvis received $600,000 plus $150,000 for expenses and 50% of the profits. The movie was entitled “Tickle Me”.
Contract # 9 - United Artists December 1964
Colonel Parker negotiated a “2 picture deal” with Elvis being paid $650,000 each. The movies were entitled “Frankie and Johnny (1966) and Clambake (1967)”.
Contract # 10 - MGM December 1964
Parker negotiated another “3 picture deal” with MGM. Elvis was to receive a total compensation of one million dollars for the first movie paid out (a) with a lump sum of $ 750,000.00 and (b) the remaining balance of $ 250,000.00 paid out over the course of (5) five years at $ 1,000.00 per week. Additionally, Elvis received 40% of the profits. The movies were entitled “Harum Scarum (1965), Spinout (1966), and Double Trouble (1967)”.
Contract # 11 - MGM January 1966
MGM and the Colonel agreed to extend the 1964 contract for a “4 picture deal”. Elvis received $850,000 per picture and 50% of the profits. The 4 movies were entitled “Speedway (1967), Stay Away, Joe (1968), Live a Little, Love a Little (1968), and The Trouble With Girls (1968)”.
Contract # 12 - Paramount April 1966
The Colonel entered into negotiations with Hal Wallis about a new contract for Elvis. Elvis received $500,000 per picture and with 20% of the profits. They negotiated for over 6 months before coming to terms which included the provision for a “1 picture deal” with no options for another. The movie was entitled “Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)”.
Contract # 13 - National General November 1967
The Colonel worked out an agreement with National General for a “1 picture deal”. Elvis would receive $850,000 and 50% of the profits. In response to Elvis’ demand this movie, “Charro!” (1969) would not include any singing, by Elvis, other than the title song.
Contract # 14 – NBC/Universal January 12, 1968
NBC Vice President Tom Sarnoff announced a deal with Colonel Parker for Elvis to have a “Christmas Television Special” sponsored by the Singer Sewing Company. Fortunately this infamous TV Special of 1968 would be Elvis performing before a live audience and reclaiming his throne as the “King of Rock and Roll” and the “King of Entertainment”. The deal included provisions for Elvis to make a movie with NBC’s subsidiary company Universal Studios. Elvis received $850,000 for the movie entitled “Change of Habit (1969)” and another $25,000 for the music in the film.
Contract # 15 - MGM April 1970
Colonel Parker worked out a deal with MGM for Elvis’ first “live onstage documentary” . The setting would be of Elvis Las Vegas Concerts. Elvis was paid $500,000. The movie was entitled “Elvis That’s the Way It Is” and was released in November 1970.
Contract #16 - MGM March 1972
Just a month prior to Elvis’s 15 city tour in April 1972 the Colonel put together a deal with MGM for another documentary. Elvis reportedly received $1 million for his thirty-third and final motion picture entitled “Elvis on Tour”.
Jeff Schrembs is the founder of ElvisCollector.info and our sister website ElvisCollectorWorldwide.freeforums.org.
Mr. Schrembs is an internationally recognized Elvis Presley collector, expert, author, and preservationist dating back six decades.
How does one become an "Elvis expert"? Well, in the case of Mr. Schrembs he lived during Elvis' career and was always a fan. Along the way he met with those who knew Elvis firsthand, those who were related to Elvis, those in Elvis' inner circle, etc.
Additionally, Mr. Schrembs has read just about every book, of quality about Elvis Presley.
Mr. Schrembs has listened to every Elvis record, interview, etc. including rare soundboard recordings.
Mr. Schrembs is sharing his knowledge about Elvis Presley without selling anything. Without any ads. Without any pop-ups. Needless to say, this is rare.
Mr. Schrembs does not sugarcoat the life of Elvis Presley onstage and off and puts a premium on facts and context.
Welcome to ElvisCollector.info.
Take care and may God bless you.
At the age of two, little Elvis Presley cried for two days when his pet rooster died. Elvis always had a fondness for animals, even stuffed ones, including his beloved teddy bear, which he named "Mabel."
Elvis had a huge collection of teddy bears in the early days of his career; they were sent to him by swooning girls by the score. He even had a model of "Nipper," the RCA dog, which he kept in his bedroom in later years. In 1957 in L.A.,
Elvis had several pet dogs over the years. As a boy, he looked after two small dogs that he named "Woodlawn" and "Muffy Dee." When he was serving in the army and was stationed out in Germany, he kept a poodle named "Champagne."
He liked giving dogs as gifts to the women in his life he loved. He gave his beloved mother, Gladys, a dog called "Sweet Pea;" he gave a toy poodle named "Little Bit" to his early girlfriend, Anita Wood; he gave a poodle named "Honey" to his wife Priscilla; and he gave "Foxhugh," a Maltese, to one of his last girlfriends, Linda Thompson.
By the end of 1960, Elvis' pet collection at Graceland included a monkey, spider monkeys, peacocks, chickens, pigs, poodles, and a Great Pyrenees dog called "Muffin."
Elvis had a chow called "Get Low" in the seventies who outlived his master by a year.
Elvis wasn't so fond of cats, although stray that turned up on the Graceland grounds would be found new homes. He did reputedly have a pet cat called "Wendell," named after his co-star in his movie Loving You, Wendell Corey.
When Elvis and his family moved to Graceland mansion in 1957, the barns were stocked with pigs and chickens. That year, Elvis drove out to the country, filled the back seat of his Cadillac with geese and brought them back to Graceland to keep the lawn trim.
Elvis also kept a few donkeys he had been given in the drained Graceland swimming pool when he first moved in, until work was finished on the fence around the property. Thought the larger farm animals were gradually pensioned off, Elvis retained a hen house at Graceland for a supply of fresh eggs. At one time or another,
Elvis also had goats and turkeys (one called "Bow Tie").
Elvis donated a wallaby to the Memphis Zoo after receiving it as a gift from Australian fans in 1957. He became a serial wallaby donator by repeating the gift in 1962.
Elvis was briefly a cattle rancher when he bought the Circle G Ranch in 1967. He bought horses for all his entourage and his wife Priscilla.
Elvis loved riding his horse "Rising Sun." He often went out riding with Priscilla, he on "Rising Sun" and she on "Domino," the horse Elvis bought for her. Once "Rising Sun" got upset and started running amok with Elvis on him. Elvis couldn't so anything to stop him. Finally, after a wild, uncontrolled ride, "Rising Sun" came to a stop. Most people would have been scared in such a situation, but Elvis was furious.
According to a witness, Elvis jumped off the horse and -literally- punched him in the face (much like the famous scene in the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles a few years later).
For a while, he had a peacock on the Graceland grounds, but the bird started damaging the cars, after which it was given away. He also owned myna birds, one of which could say, "Elvis! Go to hell." The Graceland menagerie included mules at one time. Snakes that happened to venture onto Graceland had a rough time. A maid remembers Elvis blazing away with a rifle at a tree after a snake was seen slithering up the trunk.
He acquired his first monkey, a spider monkey called "Jayhew" back in 1956, to liven up his home. His best known pet was a very fresh, mischievous chimpanzee called "Scatter." Elvis loved this crazy monkey, but hardly anyone else shared the King's affinity. Elvis enjoyed walking around and carrying "Scatter" on his shoulder and often brought him out to Hollywood when he was filming movies in the '60s. "Scatter" liked to wear clothes, drink whiskey, and tear up rooms. Elvis bought him a wardrobe of suits and ties. "Scatter" had the annoying (at least to the women involved) habit and penchant for pulling up women's dresses. When drunk, he had no qualms about about engaging in public masturbation. "Scatter" was reputedly poisoned in revenge by a maid he had bitten. Other sources pin his demise on alcohol-related liver problems.
1. The home was not built for Elvis, nor was it a brand new home. In fact, it was built by Howard and Ruth Handworker for their family. They completed the home either in late 1953 or early 1954. Howard was employed by a wood products company and had experience in home construction. He designed his home with special features; redwood wall paneling, pocket doors that slide into the walls, and red oak floors. When the Handworkers moved out in 1956, Elvis bought the home, making the Presley family the second owners of 1034 Audubon Drive.
2. They bought the home in March 1956, not May 11, 1956 as many people have written. The transaction papers were signed on March 8 and 12, 1956. The Presley family; Elvis, Vernon, Gladys, and Minnie Mae, moved into the house the last week of the month.
3. It is also written that they paid $40,000 for the home. Actually they paid $29,100, still a lot of money in those days for a home. The erroneous information about the date and price of this transaction stems from a newspaper article printed on May 11, 1956.
4. Obviously, Elvis provided the money to buy the home. But he signed the documents to own the home with his mother and father, giving all three "title" to the home. In fact, the following year all three would sign similar documents to take possession of Graceland. These documents are further proof that Elvis shared his success with his family.
5. Part of the legend is that the neighbors did not like Elvis. Some of the neighbors were said to regard the Presley’s as "white trash, hillbillies." Or they viewed his performances as crude or sinful. Apparently not everyone on Audubon Drive shared those views. A few of the surviving neighbors are careful to explain that they liked the family, but did not like the noise and confusion surrounding them.
6. No matter how the parents of Audubon Drive felt, the 60 or more children growing up on the street loved having the King of Rock and Roll live "next door". For the young girls entering their sexual awaking, he must have quite a treat. The boys saw Elvis as the "leader of the pack." Elvis was accommodating to them all; signing autographs, giving motorcycle rides, playing football with the boys.
7. The Presley family tried to be good neighbors. Those who met them particularly remember Gladys feeding cookies to the nearby children, or showing off her vegetable garden by the swimming pool. Vernon was not as friendly. They saw less of Elvis, but he was always polite to his elders. The year 1956 was the beginning of Elvis mania, when he was mobbed everywhere he traveled. The Audubon Drive home became an unofficial tourism attraction in the city, especially when Elvis was home. The Presley’s understood that the unbridled enthusiasm for Elvis was a distraction but were unable to solve the problem.
8. Many of the most famous pictures of Elvis were taken at 1034 Audubon Drive. Elvis allowed Alfred Wertheimer to follow him at close range for months that year. Alfred shot Elvis, young cousin Billy Smith, and Vernon sitting by the patio table. Elvis has cocked his head to one side to observe the photographer and is holding a Pepsi bottle. This photo has been reproduced thousands of times. An even more famous photo is of Elvis on his Harley-Davidson, casting his eyes downward. It is the most iconic photo of moody, restless youth of the 1950's. Actually, Elvis was not striking a pose, but was disgusted that his motorcycle did not have gas in the tank. He could not start it.
9. Eight families have owned 1034 Audubon between the years 1957 to 1998. After all these years, Elvis was the last homeowner to add a room to the house. Elvis converted the outdoor patio into a large den; with a glass wall to look out to the pool, two wood and glass trophy cases, mahogany wood paneling, custom made star shaped light fixtures, and an acoustic tile ceiling. The room looks the same today. Although he was the homeowner for one year, he made far more changes to the house than everyone else after him.
10. Finally they knew that they had to move into a place with more privacy and security than was possible at 1034 Audubon Drive. It is well known that the Presley bought Graceland from Ruth Brown Moore, a member of a wealthy Memphis family who built that estate home in 1939. Graceland was named after a relative of Mrs. Moore, but few knew that Mrs. Moore swapped homes with the Presley’s. She took possession of 1034 Audubon Drive and rented it to another relative. Elvis paid $102,000 for Graceland, half of that in cash, and half in the assessed value of 1034 Audubon Drive.
Graceland Farms began construction in 1939 and completed construction in 1940. The magnificent Estate was built as an exemplary Georgian Colonial style. Graceland Farms originally encompassed 500 acres, with a 25 acre man made fully stocked with regional fish. The Mansion was designed to have wonderful views of the tree lined driveway and all of the beautiful landscaping that covered Graceland with beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs, etc. and encompassed 13.8 acres. Graceland Farms was located in the Whitehaven District of Memphis on Highway 51 (note: this was later named as Elvis Presley Boulevard in appreciation of Elvis) and was purchased by Dr. Thomas D. Moore. Graceland Farms, in contrast to the beautiful “Mansion”, was used for the raising and selling of Hereford Cows.
In 1957 Gladys and Vernon had seen Graceland and then Elvis went to see Graceland. Elvis and his Mother fell in love with the home and Vernon, who had watched Elvis be delivered in a “1 one shotgun house (i.e. so small you had 4 walls and 2 doors 1 door in front and 1 in back. the total cost to build the house was less than $200.00) in Tupelo” 22 years ago was now contemplating buying this magnificent home.
At the time Elvis, Vernon, and Gladys had seen the home the Mansion had 10,266 square feet. Numerous times over the years Elvis added to the home and as of 2010 the home is 17,552 square feet (excluding the Racquetball Building) or 19,552 including the Racquetball Building.
Elvis had previously purchased a home in Memphis at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis but between the Fans standing outside the home 24/7, the neighbors being inconvenienced and complaining, the Press reporting about the “all night fans” and the neighbors “peace and quiet” being disturbed Elvis and his Family had decided that they needed a larger home that was close enough to get to “town” but further out of Town with a lot of land and security. Graceland Farms fit the criteria.
The Presleys, unbeknown to them, were not the only interested purchasers for Graceland Farms. The Catalog Store that contained all that one could hope for aka” SEARS wanted to buy all the land and build a large store displaying all of their goods to Memphis residents and visitors.
Also, the Church wanted to buy a part of the land so Sears was notified to find out if they would be willing to do so (as they were buying more than enough land for their purposes but their “data” confirmed that Memphis was an “up and coming City” and Highway 51 was planned to become “THE” Highway in Memphis with thousands of consumers going up and down Highway 51 daily) and Sears ultimately responded that they wanted “everything”.
An immediate telephone call was placed to Vernon Presley telling him about the other “potential buyers” being Sears and the Church. Vernon knew that if he did not get this home for Elvis, who in turn wanted the home for his beloved Mother Gladys where they could live in comfort and peace, that Elvis would be “shattered”. The last thing Vernon Presley wanted was to let down Elvis and Gladys so after hanging up the telephone, after inquiring “what can be done so we get the place”?, Vernon waited and waited to find out the answer to his question. Every hour felt like a lifetime and this was the most important purchase of Elvis’ life a home that THEY OWNED and no one could take away from them. It was more than bricks and mortar it was a home, a blessing, and a dream come true. All that had to happen was for Sears to go away and the Church to agree to let Elvis have it. Vernon thought long and hard about the options and being known as a “penny pencher” he knew that he would have to pay “top price” to get Graceland and she was worth every penny.
Vernon gathered his thoughts and then started dialing the phone where Elvis would be at. When Elvis answered the first question was “whats the news on Graceland”? Vernon tried to sound confident while updating Elvis to the entire series of events. Elvis knew that Dr. Moore, was an honorable and religious man who helped out the community routinely.
Elvis, who was always a quick thinker, came to the compromise that they would buy Graceland and all the land and then sell a part of it to the Church. Elvis was also a very spiritual/religious man and decided that it would be “good” to have others singing and praying to God on the property right next door. So Elvis called Vernon and said “do it” (i.e. Elvis would keep Graceland and a large part of the land with a smaller part of the land going to the Church) and added one stipulation and that was for Elvis to have a “right of easement” to be able to enter in from the Churches parking lot and go directly into Graceland through this “secret entrance” (i.e. not through the iconic Muscial Note Gates at Front of Graceland).
Vernon called the Real Estate Agent back and was told they were waiting on Sears to respond. The Real Estate Agent called Dr. Moore to let him know that Elvis was interested, at full price less what the Church wanted in property and Elvis would pay the Church directly for the easement. Dr. Moore was pleased that Elvis allowed the Church options and “impressed” when he learned that Elvis grew up singing Religious Hymns – never drank – did not smoke – always said “yes sir” or “yes mam” to his elders and was a respectful man who wanted to provide an “easier living” for his family and have a safe “HOME” to return to where he could raise a family and enjoy the beauty of the property and the blessings that God bestowed to all of us.
Sears called back hesitant about letting the Church have some of the property so the Realtor called Vernon to tell him the good news. On March 26, 1957 Vernon, Gladys, and Elvis signed the paperwork (jointly) and purchased Graceland for (approximately $ 103,000.00. Gladys Presley cried as she was handed the keys to her home as Elvis and Vernon hugged her and Elvis kissed her forehead telling her “I love you” and “I am doing all of this for you momma”.
1957 Elvis career was going great, his movies were all hits, his songs sold millions, his relationship with his parents was good and he now owned a Mansion that could allow him options to rest or to play and to add to as Elvis’ interests changed.
Gladys was so happy she shed tears of joy hugging everyone and telling Elvis he had given them the “most beautiful home ever”. Gladys, once she really came to terms that the home was theirs, began to plan on the designing and furnishings of the home and she asked Elvis for what he wanted and he gave her a few requirements but most of all he hugged and kissed her and said “lil satnin this be all yours” then they looked into each other eyes and jointly began to cry. X Interestingly, 9 months later on Christmas Eve Elvis would receive his “hand delivered” Draft Notice. Elvis’ 1st Christmas at Graceland went from tears of joy, love, presents, laughing, etc. to Elvis reading and re-reading the draft notice (in semi-shock). In 1958 Elvis, now in the Army, said “things could not get any worse” and yet on August 14, 1958 his beloved Mother Gladys Love Presley passed away. Some of the most “traumatic/emotional” photographs ever taken of Elvis were taken while Elvis and Vernon sat on the front steps of Graceland with their arms around each others’ shoulders crying. Repeating “shes gone” “everything I loved is gone” “Why, why?” and Vernon “saying how sorry he was while consoling Elvis.
Elvis first 2 years at Graceland were filled with “ups and downs”. From 1958 – 1960 Elvis served his term in the US Army and was honorably discharged. When Elvis returned some things at Graceland “changed” (i.e. paint, trim, way room was used, etc.) but out of respect for his Mother Elvis left as much of her things as they were during her lifetime.
Elvis LOVED Graceland and it truly was his “home”. It was fitting, though no less painful to accept, that Elvis died at Graceland and is buried at Graceland with his Mother, Father, and Grandmother. Their head stones rest in the meditation gardens which Elvis had built in the 1960’s and thousands of fans come to Graceland each week to see Graceland and to pay their respects.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not say that Elvis Fans Worldwide should say a heartfelt “thanks” to Priscilla, Lisa Marie, and Jack Soden for allowing Graceland to be seen and for the professional endeavors they are involved in. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND visiting Graceland, EPE, and/or www.Elvis.com. I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND Elvis Fans Worldwide seeking out, and monetarily supporting, and paying their respects to Marty Lacker, Marty Fike, Billy Smith, Red West, Sonny West, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, etc. Elvis loved these men and they spend the better part of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s working with Elvis 24/7. I say aloud THANK YOU and God bless you all in each of your personal and professional endeavors!
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