“Young Bill.” Just a few years later, by the time of his reelection campaign, he became the “Fat Bill,” known for chowing down on supersized McDonald’s French fries, satirized by Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live.
Critics say Elvis’ decline was epitomized by his foray into elaborate costumes. However, it was not entirely new to him. The $10,000 gold lame suit that he wore on the cover of his 1959 album, “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” remains the most famous ever designed by Russian-born tailor Nudie Cohn. But it was nothing compared to the sparkling capes and blingy outfits he donned in his Vegas years.
In the early 1970s his costumes became so garish, that it made Liberace’s sparkling, rhinestone studded ensembles looked restrained. Once when the flamboyant pianist wore a white llama fur coat with a sixteen foot train, interspersed with sequins and rhinestones, he quipped to his adoring Las Vegas audience: “In the dressing room, one of the showgirls thought I was Elvis. I just signed her matchbook, ‘The King.’ In a covert whisper, he mischievously added, “I was going to put ‘The Queen,’ but she was confused enough...All that stuff they make them wear.”
Liberace was the Lady Gaga of his time. Every new costume blasted past the last! He even arrived on stage in a chauffeur driven white Rolls Royce. And, Elvis was right there with him. As the 1970s progressed, Elvis’ jumpsuits got more and more jeweled until the distinction between his ensembles and those of Liberace’s were blurred.
Although their styles on stage were becoming more similar, their home life was not.
Liberace flung open his ostentatious home to the public for tours, while Elvis shut himself into his Graceland hermitage, away from fans, much like his future son-in-law Michael Jackson did at his Neverland Ranch. Today, that has all changed. Even at $69 a pop, Graceland gets as many visitors as the White House.
While he lived at Graceland, Elvis was obsessive about how his mansion was kept, and particularly what medical and quasi-medical products were available. Chief amongst them was Feenamint, the popular chewable laxative, Ex-lax’s strongest rival. To unclog the nose, he used Dristan. Contac and Sucrets were the vanguard of his arsenal against post-nasal drip, scratchy throat and sneeze attacks.
He needed these to combat his nasty habit of puffing on his favorite El Producto Diamond Tip Cigars. To mask his smoky breathe, he demanded a supply of three packs each of Wrigley’s Spearmint, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit gum.
Although he required the leanest of ground beef and bacon, he demanded a nightly fix of fresh fudge brownies and banana pudding sprinkled with toasted almonds.
Some of his other tastes were the subject of a brutal attack by critic Albert Goldman in his book, “Elvis” (1981). “Nothing in the house is worth a dime,” and described it as looking like a brothel that was “...lifted from some turn-of-the-century bordello down in the French Quarter of New Orleans.” He dismisses