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Elvis Presley had a collection of guns at Graceland. While he ostensibly wanted them for protection, he used the weapons for a variety of circumstances. Sometimes, the musician shot at the television during programs he didn’t like. Once, he shot up a tree to keep snakes out of Graceland. His maid, Nancy Rooks, shared why she didn’t think this approach was successful.

Elvis tried to shoot at a Graceland snake

Two maintenance workers at Graceland noticed a snake in the yard. They mentioned it to Elvis, who decided he had to do something about it.

“I remember being in the kitchen when one of the maintenance men came in and offhandedly mentioned having just seen a small snake crawling up one of the trees in the front yard near the house,” Rooks wrote in Inside Graceland: Elvis’ Maid Remembers. “Elvis, in one of his all too typical ideas to take care of the problem, decided to go outside and see for himself. Naturally, the few of us gathered in the kitchen followed him outside to see what he would do.”

A black and white picture of Elvis holding a gun. He sits in a car with a rolled-down window.
Elvis Presley | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Elvis told Rooks to get his gun, and she hurriedly brought it back.

“I rushed inside, ran upstairs to his office and grabbed a long barreled gun of some type from his gun case, and rushed it back outside to him,” Rooks wrote. “By that time I’m sure that little snake was probably in Mississippi, but, having perceived that Graceland was being overrun by snakes, Elvis grabbed the gun, warned everybody to stand back, and then blasted the tree full of holes with a deafening roar. (I can only imagine what the usual group of fans idling around the front gate that day must have thought!).”

Elvis seemed proud of his work, even though Rooks thought the snake survived the encounter.

“Then, with the barrel smoking like in one of his western movies, he laughed, told everyone it was safe to be on the grounds of Graceland again, and calmly walked back into his mansion, confident that at least that snake, which of course he never hit, would never be back again,” she wrote. “Another routine pest problem taken care of at Graceland.”

Elvis’ maid said this was far from the only snake at Graceland

Rooks was not all that concerned with the snake in the yard, but she occasionally found them in the house. 

“Speaking of snakes, we did, in the late sixties, occasionally find a small green snake or garter snake down in the basement,” she wrote. “[Elvis’ grandmother] Dodger got to where she refused to go downstairs because she was so afraid of seeing a snake down there.”

They didn’t bother Rooks very much — she even killed one — but they kept Elvis’ grandma from ever stepping foot in the basement again.

The musician often shot at his problems

Elvis often relied on his guns to settle any problems, no matter how small. Priscilla Presley recalled him shooting at the TV when he didn’t like a show. His fiancée, Ginger Alden, said Elvis shot at her while she was sleeping because she told him he didn’t need more yogurt.

Elvis Presley holds a gun over one shoulder. There are a fence and mountains behind him.
Elvis Presley | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Elvis Was Afraid to Be Around His Grandfather as a Child, Said a Graceland Maid

Rooks recalled a time when she heard gunshots just before water started pouring from the ceiling. When she went upstairs to see what was wrong, she realized Elvis had shot at his toilet.

“With my heart pounding I tried, as politely as I could, to ask him what had happened. (Of course, all I would have had to have done is to look at the shattered toilet, in a million pieces, to realize that he had shot the commode!),” she wrote. “He grinned, muttered something about how he had never liked that toilet anyway, and walked calmly back into his bedroom where he sprawled out on his bed and began watching TV. I never found out what made him mad enough to blow the commode to pieces. And, of course, I never asked him again.”