37 years ago today, Graceland opened to the public five years after Elvis Presley died there. The mansion sits on 14 acres near Memphis and is the second most-visited house in the U.S., after the White House. Since being opened as a museum by Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie, Graceland has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and been declared a National Historic Landmark. Famous visits to Graceland include Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, whom Elvis said came “to see how in America a fellow can start out with nothing and, you know, make good”. WATCH a quick tour… (1982)
The property was named for the previous owner’s daughter Grace Took. Presley’s tombstone, along with that of his parents and his grandmother can be visited in the Meditation Garden next to the mansion, and Elvis’s Pink Cadillac is also on the grounds.
In the early hours of the morning Elvis died, he, his girlfriend Ginger Alden, his first cousin Billy Smith and Billy’s wife played a game of racquetball on a court there, and then Elvis sang a song on the old upright piano (which is on display) before he walked into the main house to wash his hair and go to bed. The bathroom where ‘The King’ died is kept off-limits. (Photo by Joseph Novak, CC license)
MORE Good News on this Day:
- Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed to the Continental Congress a resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence (1776)
- Abraham Lincoln was nominated by his party for a second term as the U.S. president (1864)
- Homer Plessy was arrested when he refused to move from a seat reserved for whites on a train in New Orleans and this action would lead to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ”separate but equal” decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1892)
- Hudson Stuck, a British missionary preaching in Alaska led the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent. He published five books about his years in Alaska (1913)
- Roger Federer of Switzerland became the sixth man in history to win a tennis Grand Slam when he tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major men’s championships winning the French Open (2009)
And, on this day in 1965, the Supreme Court reached a landmark decision on married couples’ “right to privacy” that effectively legalized the use of contraception. The ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut decided in favor of Estelle Griswold, who had opened a family-planning clinic in defiance of the then-deeply Catholic state of Connecticut, by striking down the state’s “bedroom patrol laws” against birth control.
Also, Happy Birthday to actor Liam Neeson who turns 67 today. Born in Northern Ireland, he became a boxing champ in his youth but also started acting so he could impress a girl. Now a US citizen, his movies include Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, Taken, Love Actually, Batman Begins, Star Wars: Episode I, and The Grey. (1952)
Happy 41st Birthday to actor, comedian, and writer Bill Hader, who is best known for his years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he dropped out of college to move to Los Angeles and work in film production. Discouraged with his job, he took a comedy class and found his ideal creative outlet. His acting credits include films like Superbad, Tropic Thunder, Trainwreck, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and You, Me and Dupree. His latest project, a series he created for himself called Barry, premiered this year on HBO. He once worked as an usher at a movie theater in Arizona, so he could see films for free, but he was fired for spoiling the ending of Titanic to noisy patrons. WATCH him do obscure impressions for Jimmy Kimmel…. (1978)