When Elvis Presley wasn’t recording or touring, he’s be chilling out at his Graceland mansion in Tennessee. After sleeping all day, The King of Rock and Roll would come downstairs for breakfast around 4pm before tearing it up in Memphis. One of the star’s favourite things to do was to rent out a whole movie theatre during the night and have private screenings of the latest movies with his Memphis Mafia. And it turns out that James Bond and Clint Eastwood flicks were some of his favourites to view.
Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith and his wife Jo, who were some of The King’s closest and most trusted friends in the Memphis Mafia, remember fun times watching the action films with the star.
In a fan Q&A on their YouTube channel Elvis Fans Matter, the couple were asked if the star liked James Bond movies. They said: “Really liked them. We watched just about every one of them while he was alive.”
That means Elvis would have seen every Bond movie from 1962’s Dr No starring Sean Connery through to 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore. This would have included the unofficial Casino Royale with David Niven and George Lazenby’s one-off 007 adventure On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
In fact, The Spy Who Loved Me was the last movie The King saw at the cinema, before his sudden death of a heart attack at just 42 on August 16, 1977. He’d requested Star Wars but couldn’t get his hands on a reel at the time, so sadly never had a chance to see the sci-fi masterpiece. Meanwhile, it turns out that Elvis was inspired by Connery’s From Russia With Love into purchasing a very rare gadget.
At the start of the 1963 Bond movie, Connery’s 007 takes a phone call in his car. After seeing this, Elvis was obsessed with finding a mobile car phone. The result was a very rare one contained in a briefcase with the star’s own handwritten instructions. It’s now kept in the Graceland archives.
Apart from Ian Fleming’s spy, the singer’s cousin also fondly remembered watching all the Clint Eastwood movies with him at the time. This would have meant the Spaghetti Western Dollars Trilogy and the first three Dirty Harry movies. The couple also spent hours watching films with Elvis in his bedroom upstairs at Graceland, often viewing the same flick over and over again as was his habit.