Elvis Presley’s reckless fascination with guns nearly sent girlfriend Linda Thompson to a hospital.
The close call happened in the Elvis suite at the then-Hilton hotel, now the Westgate.
Thompson recalled the incident on Thursday when I asked her about the “craziest” point in their relationship.
Thompson, who spent 4½ years with Presley before walking away eight months before his death in 1977, was stepping out of the shower one day in the Elvis penthouse when it happened.
“Back in the days when he played here, there was a sort of bull’s-eye that would say Elvis emblazoned across it. He had one in the suite,” said Thompson, who attended Thursday’s announcement that Graceland, starting April 23, will enter a permanent relationship with David Siegel’s Westgate.
The Elvis exhibition will feature hundreds of artifacts from Graceland.
“I had just stepped out of the shower and was standing in front of the mirror about to dry my head when I heard a ping, ping, ping,” she said.
“I thought, ‘What was that?’ A bullet had just gone through the toilet paper holder and shattered the glass door to my left and had gone out into my closet area.”
Outside the door, a member of Elvis’ entourage named “Hamburger” (“because he used to fetch hamburgers a lot,” she said), asked her whether she was all right.
“I said, ‘Yaw, but what was that?’ He said Elvis was just having a little target practice in the living room. I said, ‘What?!’ So I put my robe on and put my hair up in a towel, and I stormed out into the living room and said, ‘What are you doing?’
“He was as white as a ghost because someone said Linda is in that room and the bullet went through that room. It scared the hell out of him and me too.”
Thompson said it was “probably a .38. Just a handgun, but there were handguns everywhere.”
“That was the craziest thing that ever happened,” said Thompson, who was 22 when she met Presley in 1972 as Miss Tennessee Universe.
She never missed a show during his eight-year, sold-out run at the Hilton.
Just once did they try to leave the suite for a romantic dinner at the Hilton’s steakhouse.
“We had to turn around,” she said, because Elvis was mobbed. “We spent most of our time sequestered.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is proclaiming today Kerry Simon Day. The longtime Las Vegas chef is battling MSA (multiple system atrophy), an aggressive condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. …
Rascal Flatts’ opening act for the country trio’s three-week run at the Hard Rock Hotel is Craig Wayne Boyd, recent winner of the seventh season of NBC’s “The Voice.” Boyd has something in common with Garth Brooks. Boyd’s debut single, “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” debuted at No. 1 on country charts. Brooks’ “More Than a Memory” debuted at No. 1 in 2007. They are the only two country artists to have a single that debuted at No. 1. Boyd sang “My Baby” in “The Voice” finale. …
Among the 200 people invited to Carrot Top’s 50th birthday on Wednesday at Chateau’s rooftop patio: Joey Fatone of N ‘Sync fame, Pia Zadora, Dog the Bounty Hunter, entertainer Frankie Moreno, violinist Joshua Bell, comedian Louie Anderson, Coolio, cast members of “Raiding the Rock Vault,” comedy hypnotist Anthony Cools, Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie, Jimmie Walker of “Good Times” fame and Blues Travelers’ manager Seth Yudof. Carrot Top, whose real name is Scott Thompson, wore an outfit he put together. “I always make my own stage clothes and costumes,” he said. “The theme was glitter so I went nuts.” The outfit included a black jacket and matching pants and a silver glitter vest. “Made the boots out of old heavy-duty boots and glitter. It was awesome,” he said. In November, Carrot Top will celebrate his 10th year at Luxor.
Siegel and his wife, reality show star Jackie, “The Queen of Versailles,” spotted with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler on Thursday at TJ’s Steakhouse inside the Westgate. Tyler was accompanied by a bodyguard. The Siegels recently completed filming “Celebrity Wife Swap,” due out before summer. …
Loanne Parker, widow of Elvis’ longtime manager Col. Tom Parker, was among the attendees at the Graceland news conference. …
Jack Maxwell of the reality show “Booze Traveler,” dining at La Comida on Thursday.
THE PUNCH LINE
“If you’re thinking of getting something for Justin Bieber’s birthday, you can’t go wrong with bail money.” — David Letterman
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.