How The National Enquirer Scored a Photo of Elvis Presley in His Casket


It’s been over 40 years since the death of Elvis Presley. Presley remains a legendary icon. New information Presley and his death are continually released as reporters are still interested in Presley’s life. In a new documentary, reporters from The National Enquirer reveal the lengths they went to score a photo of Presley in his casket. 

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley 1968 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley’s funeral had a no photography policy

Presley was found unresponsive on a bathroom floor by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden. He died of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennesse in August 1977. The media attention surrounding Presley’s death was massive. Fans were devastated by his death and tabloids fought for inside information regarding his funeral.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley 1958 | Archive Photos/Getty Images

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Despite his celebrity, Presley’s family preferred for his funeral and burial to be private. His family insisted on a no photography policy for all attendees to prevent photos of Presley in his casket from being leaked to the press.

Thousands gathered outside Presley’s beloved Graceland to view his open casket. His funeral was held at Graceland days after his death. An estimated 80,000 people lined the processional route to the cemetery where Presley would be buried. 

The National Enquirer used decoys to try and get a photo before paying Elvis Presley’s cousin to do the job

All major media publications were interested in Presley’s funeral for a look at the King of Rock N’ Roll in his casket. The National Enquirer was known for garnering the most salacious stories and getting the inside scoop on celebrities, even death, no matter what the cost was.

The infamous newspaper set their sites on getting the prized photo of Presley in his casket and set up a major operation to do so. Reporters for The National Enquirer explained their process in the documentary Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Inquirer. 

According to one reporter, news about Presley’s death broke at 5 PM and within the hour, six reporters from the paper were on a plane headed to Memphis. The reporters had an extra suitcase with them carrying $50,000.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley

The reporters turned a local Holiday Inn into a newsroom, renting out each room to work on stories related to Presley’s death and funeral around the clock. The cash they took with them was used to pay anyone with inside information and it began to rapidly decline. 

The first try at getting a photo of Presley in his casket involved dressing up an older man as a priest. The hired fake priest had a camera under his robe, but the photo he took only showed the casket, leaving reporters at square one.

One of The National Enquirer’s photographers spotted Presley’s cousin at a local bar and approached him with the proposition to snap a photo of Presley in his casket for a set price….

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