Just as it seemed that everything Elvis touched turned to gold, on December 20, 1957, Elvis received a draft notice in the mail. Elvis had both the opportunity to be excused from the military and the ability to get special dispensation, but instead, Elvis chose to enter the U.S. Army as a regular soldier. He was stationed in Germany.
With a nearly two year hiatus from his career, many people, including Elvis himself, wondered if the world would forget him while he was in the army. Parker, on the other hand, worked hard to keep Elvis' name and image in the public eye. Parker was so successful at this that some would say Elvis was almost more popular after his military experience than he was before it.
While Elvis was in the army, two major events happened to him. The first was the death of his beloved mother. Her death devastated him. The second was that he met and started dating 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, whose father was also stationed in Germany. They married eight years later, on May 1, 1967, and had one child together, a daughter named Lisa Marie Presley (born February 1, 1968).
Elvis, the Actor
When Elvis was discharged from the army in 1960, fans once again mobbed him. Elvis was as popular as ever and he got started right away recording new songs and making more movies. Unfortunately, it had become obvious to Parker and others that anything with Elvis' name or image on it would make money, so Elvis was pushed to make movies in quantity rather than in quality. Elvis' most successful movie, Blue Hawaii (1961), became a basic template for many of his later movies. Elvis became increasingly upset about the poor quality of his movies and songs.
With few exceptions, from 1960 until 1968, Elvis made very few public appearances while he focused on making movies. In all, Elvis made 33 movies.
The 1968 Comeback and Las Vegas
While Elvis was away from the stage, other musicians appeared on the scene. A few of these groups, such as the Beatles, riled up teenagers, sold lots of records, and threatened to make Elvis share his title of "King of Rock 'n' Roll," if not take it away. Elvis had to do something to keep his crown.
In December 1968, Elvis, dressed in a black leather outfit, appeared in an hour-long television special titled, Elvis. Calm, sexy, and humorous, Elvis wowed the crowd.
The 1968 "comeback special" energized Elvis. After the success of his television appearance, Elvis got back both into recording and live performances. In July 1969, Parker booked Elvis at the largest venue in Las Vegas, the new International Hotel. Elvis' shows there were a huge success and the hotel booked Elvis for four weeks a year through 1974. The rest of the year, Elvis went on tour.
Elvis Gets Fat
Ever since Elvis had become popular, he had worked at a breakneck speed. He was recording songs, making movies, signing autographs, and giving concerts with little to no rest. To keep up the fast pace, Elvis had started taking prescription drugs.
By the early 1970s, the long and continued use of these drugs began to really cause problems. Elvis started having severe mood swings, aggression, erratic behavior, and gained a lot of weight.
By this time, Elvis and Priscilla had grown apart and in January 1973, the two divorced. After the divorce, Elvis's drug addiction got even worse. Several times he was hospitalized from overdoses and other health problems. His performances began to severely suffer. On many occasions, Elvis just mumbled through songs while on stage.
Death: Elvis Has Left the Building
On the morning of August 16, 1977, Elvis' girlfriend, Ginger Alden, found Elvis on the bathroom floor at Graceland. He wasn't breathing. Elvis was taken to the hospital, where doctors were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m. Elvis died at age 42.