To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death at the age of 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, we have the same number of facts you might not know about him.
Elvis was a twin. His brother, Jesse Garon Presley, born before him, died at birth.
Elvis and David Bowie have the same birthday.
Elvis boasts relations to former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter (distant cousin) and Abraham Lincoln (Elvis is a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln’s great grandfather Isaiah Harrison).
Presley’s self-titled debut was released in March 1956 and became the first rock ‘n’ roll album in history to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Elvis only ever performed outside of the United States three times, and all three times were in Canada. In 1957, he played Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
Elvis only ever endorsed one product in his lifetime—Texas-based Southern Maid Doughnuts.
Elvis earned an eighth-degree black belt in karate.
Elvis’s 1973 Aloha from Hawaii TV special drew more viewers than the moon landing.
All three of Elvis’ Grammys were awarded for his gospel music.
Elvis’ last public performance was in 1977 in Indianapolis, IN. His final song: “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Actors who’ve portrayed Elvis on TV or in film include Kurt Russell (Elvis, 1979) and as Elvis’ voice in Forrest Gump, 1994), Val Kilmer (True Romance, 1993), Don Johnson (Elvis and the Beauty Queen, 1981), Harvey Keitel (Finding Graceland, 1998), Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep, 2002), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Elvis, 2005) and Frank Stallone (Angels with Angles, 2005).
Bela Lugosi and Babe Ruth died on the same day as Elvis, just in different years.
Legendary comedian Groucho Marx died three days after Elvis.
Kurt Russell appeared in the 1963 Elvis film It Happened at the World’s Fair. He had an uncredited scene with Presley, where he kicked him in the leg.
In 1964, Elvis paid $55,000 for The Potomac, the 165-foot-long vessel that served as FDR’s “floating White House” from 1936 to 1945 and which he eventually donated to St. Jude’s Hospital.
When described as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” by a journalist, Elvis declined the crown and instead directed the title to Fats Domino.
Elvis is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
When Elvis died in 1977, he was the top touring act in the United States.
It’s estimated that Elvis has sold between 500 million and a billion records worldwide—more than any other artist in history.
Elvis holds the record for the third most Billboard No. 1 hits with 17, following the Beatles (20) and Mariah Carey (18).
Elvis gifted Muhammad Ali with a robe emblazoned with the phrase “The People’s Champion.”
The Holy Bible and Joseph Benner’s The Impersonal Life were Elvis’s two favorite books.
Comedian Eddie Murphy credits Elvis as the person who inspired him to pursue a career in show business.
Every one of Elvis’ 31 films was profitable, except for one: 1961’s Wild in the Country.
One film part Elvis always wanted to play but was not considered for: Don Corleone in The Godfather. The role went to Marlon Brando.
Elvis had a slight stutter.
During a concert at Nassau Coliseum in 1975, he threw a guitar into the audience, saying, “Whoever got the guitar can keep the damn thing. I don’t need it, anyway.”
It is estimated that there were about 170 Presley impersonators when he died in 1977. Today, some say there are 250,000.
Elvis was born a natural blond and achieved his famous black locks by dying his hair.
Elvis would rent out movie theaters to do midnight screenings of his favorite movie, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, with his friends.
Nicholas Cage was the only non-family member of the Presley family to see the forbidden second floor of Graceland.
The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were Elvis’ favorite football teams.
Elvis was awarded two medals while serving in the Army, one for expert marksmanship, the other for sharpshooting.
“Heartbreak Hotel” was the first Elvis single to sell more than a million copies.
Elvis made only one appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, in October 1954. They never invited him back.
Manager Colonel Tom Parker made Elvis turn down roles in Thunder Road, West Side Story and Midnight Cowboy.
Elvis recorded 15 tracks with ‘blue’ in the title including “Blue Christmas,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Blue Moon,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Blue River.”
His 1960 single “It’s Now Or Never” is one of the best-selling singles of all time, with sales estimated to have been between 25 and 30 million copies.
Elvis’ 29¢ commemorative postage stamp, issued in 1993, sold more copies than any other postage stamp in U.S. Postal Service history.
Elvis was a descendant of Cherokee Native Americans, on his mother Gladys’ side.
The last song Elvis sang was “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” at home, and playing the piano, to family and friends, on Monday evening, Aug. 15, 1977.
The King was last scheduled to appear in the New York City metro area at Nassau Coliseum on Aug. 22, 1977.