As thousands stood outside of Graceland to mourn the loss of their idol, a car drove through the crowd killing two and seriously injuring a third.
Alice Hoverter and Juanita Johnson were just 19-years-old at the time and had driven 200 miles to Memphis to attend the funeral proceedings. In addition to being friends, the girls were also roommates and coworkers. The four teenagers who were in the car were arrested after the incident, the driver being intoxicated behind the wheel.
Priscilla Is Devastated
Despite them having been divorced for several years at the time, Priscilla was devastated upon learning of Elvis’ death.
When interviewed about this day, she recalled being overwhelmed with the news and not being able to do anything or wrap her head around the events until a plane was sent for her. When she went into the house, she heard people cry with his father, who was grieving badly.
Elvis’ funeral was held on August 18, 1977, at Graceland where thousands of fans stood outside the gates hoping to get a glimpse of the casket. He was buried next to his mother at the Forest Hill Cemetery followed by a procession of nearly 80,000 people.
Just a week after the funeral, someone tried to steal the body, which was moved to Graceland's Meditation Garden in response. The public got a good look at Elvis in his casket though after his cousin, Billy Mann, was offered $18,000 by the "National Enquirer" for a photo. It was the magazine's biggest-selling issue.
Cause of Death
Medical examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco performed the autopsy the day Elvis died. He claimed that Elvis’ cause of death was cardiac arrest likely caused by narcotics. The report stated that he suffered from anaphylactic shock caused by the pills his dentist prescribed, to which he was mildly allergic.
Testing later found fourteen types of narcotics in the musician’s system, most in high quantities. His physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos, was largely to blame for this as he prescribed him more than 10,000 doses of different substances between January and July of 1977 alone. He was exonerated of all criminal charges but lost his medical license.
What About Graceland?
As executor of Elvis’ only heir, Lisa Marie, Priscilla suddenly found herself responsible for the upkeep of Graceland, which cost more than $500,000 a year to maintain.
After barely staying afloat and spending much of her inheritance, she finally decided to turn Graceland into a tourist attraction. Just four months after it opened to the public in June of 1982, Priscilla had made back all of the money she invested into the project. She remained the chairwoman and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises until Lisa Marie was old enough to take on the role herself.