elvis presley in las vegas -- 5/17/19

Today's selection -- from Hollywood Godfather by Gianni Russo. Elvis Presley in Las Vegas, as recounted by mobster Gianni Russo:

"I had met Elvis on a few occasions, but we hadn't spent any time together. One night after a show, I went backstage, where Elvis was with a group of his buddies -- known as the 'Memphis Mafia' -- discussing where they were going to eat. He spotted me and called me over.

" 'Hey, man, you ever have a peanut butter and banana sandwich?' he asked, then added, 'On white bread. It's my favorite.'

"I thought he was putting me on, so I played along. 'Love 'em,' I said. I wondered if an angioplasty came with it. The thought of combin­ing peanut butter and bananas and slapping them between two slices of white bread really didn't appeal to me, but I was being polite. This was pregargantuan Elvis; he was still pretty lean, but the junk food was beginning to show.

"'Great, man! You're coming with us!' He introduced me to his friends and we started to leave.

"I knew you could get any kind of food in Vegas, but I had no idea where he was going to find a place that had this junk on the menu. But, hey, he was Elvis, and if he wanted a peanut butter and banana sandwich, I felt sure no restaurant was going to turn him down.

"'Where we going?' I asked.

"'San Francisco, brother. Plane's at McCarran.'

"We flew out of McCarran Airport on Elvis's private jet, landing in San Francisco about an hour later. It turned out that the dive diner we went to had the best peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the country. Had to be true; Elvis said so.

"There were eight of us, and Elvis did the ordering. An initial round of sixteen sandwiches was sucked up in minutes, washed down by gallons of lemonade. I had one. Not bad, but I wasn't about to add it to my favorites list. Ten more of the buggers were ordered and polished off quickly.

"After the gourmet meal, we got back on the plane and flew back to Vegas and the International. Once we were in Elvis's suite, he decided he wanted to watch a Western movie. A projector was set up and a 1930s oater with Hoot Gibson began.

"Elvis and his crew were whooping it up like real cowboys, and I wondered what the hell I was doing there. These were a nice bunch of guys, but I was used to the pinkie ring, silk suit crowd. I have to ad­mit, however, that I was having laughs. Then the guns came out.

"Elvis packed a gold-plated .45 Colt semiautomatic pistol, which had been given to him by some starstruck general when Elvis got out of the army. His Memphis Mafia pals all had revolvers.

"Elvis fired a shot into a wall, and everyone followed suit. They were following the action in the movie, where Hoot was chasing a bunch of bad guys and trading shots with them.

"I thought a couple of rounds would've been it, but then Elvis started overturning furniture, and the guys divided up into two sides. I ducked behind a couch as everyone hid behind cover and traded shots. They aimed high, but bullets can travel through walls, and who knows where they could've wound up.

"Within a minute, the Gunfight in Suite 3000 was over and every­one repaired to the bar to get loaded, pun intended. I stayed a while, but I couldn't hear a damn thing because I was temporarily deaf from the gunfire. Only in Las Vegas."

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Gianni Russo


Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob


St. Martin's Press


Copyright 2019 by Gianni Russo


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