Hail to the King: An Elvis FAQ

Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock n' Roll, would have been 74 years old today were it not for a bad night on the toilet in 1977. Even after all these years, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding the King, so for his birthday let's take a look at some of the myths that persist.

Was Elvis a DEA Agent?

Elvis was more straight-laced than the controversy surrounding his gyrating hips would lead you to believe. He hated the hippie drug culture and longed to become a "Federal Agent at Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Agency. At a 1970 meeting at the White House with President Richard Nixon, Elvis offered to become an undercover agent and "infiltrate hippie groups" for the government. Nixon was unsure if an arrangement could be worked out, but made Elvis an honorary agent and gave him a badge. While Elvis never conducted any official BNDD business, he was, in some small way, a narc. A drug-addled narc, but a narc nonetheless.

Are Elvis and (insert name here) related?

Southerners like Elvis are often the butt of jokes about family trees that don't fork, but Elvis' family branches out in some surprising directions. Genealogical research has placed Elvis as a descendant of Abraham Lincoln's great-great grandfather, Isaiah Harrison and a sixth cousin once removed from Jimmy Carter (both their family lines go back to Valentine Preslar, a German who came to New York in 1709).

Was Elvis one of a kind?

There can only be one Elvis, but he did have a (Elvis believed identical) twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, who was stillborn. Jessie, older than Elvis by a few minutes, was buried in a pauper's grave without a headstone in Priceville Cemetery near Tupelo, Mississippi.

Elvis' mother told him when he was young that when one twin died, the one that lived got the strength of both. Elvis got something else from his twin, too. When he was born, his parents chose "Aron" as his middle name, a non-traditional spelling similar to Jessie's middle name (birth records listed it "Aaron," and an older Elvis decided to use the traditional spelling.)

Did Elvis "shoot" Robert Goulet?

elvis-gun.jpgThe story goes that Elvis was watching TV one night when Goulet appeared on the screen. Elvis pulled a .357 out of his boot, shot the TV and supposedly said, "Get that @$*% outta' my house!"

Whether that's just some crazy story depends on who you ask. James Warner, the former Elvis expert at allexperts.com, has said that the incident stemmed from a time when Elvis was dating a woman who worked with Goulet. When Elvis was stationed in Germany while serving in the military, Goulet supposedly sent him a letter saying he'd "take good care of Anita" while Elvis was gone and the King held a grudge.

Goulet himself said that Elvis' associates told him that TV shooting was a common occurrence and Elvis didn't mean anything by it. In fact, he said in an interview that he and Elvis got along well (Goulet called him "charming and delightful") and described an encounter the two once had backstage. The singers were talking and at one point, Goulet commented on one of Elvis' rings. Elvis took it off his finger and put it on Goulet's, who kept it until it was stolen (he suspected his housekeeper).

Is Elvis still alive?

I haven't seen him, but if you have, now is the time to share.

If you've got a burning question that you'd like to see answered here, shoot me an email at flossymatt (at) gmail.com. Twitter users can also make nice with me and ask me questions there. Be sure to include your name and location (and a link, if you want) so I can give you a little shout out.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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