Not many people realize that when Elvis Presley died, he owned two homes: the Graceland mansion in Tennessee and a home on the West Coast sometimes referred to as “Graceland West.” Far enough away from Hollywood to maintain privacy, Presley’s Palm Springs home was his favorite getaway when he could not be at home in Memphis.
Palm Springs, California – known as “The Playground of the Stars” in its heyday – was a popular vacation spot for the Hollywood crowd in the 1950s and 1960s. Only two hours from Los Angeles, Palm Springs was convenient for a quick weekend getaway from Hollywood, and close enough to return quickly in case of a filming emergency.
In the 1960s, Elvis’ manager, Colonel Parker moved to Palm Springs and urged Elvis to come out and visit. In September 1966, Elvis and Priscilla rented a house for one year, now known as the “Honeymoon House.” The house at 1350 Ladera Circle is where they spent their first night as a married couple on May 1, 1967.
In April 1970, Elvis and Priscilla decided to purchase their own house in Palm Springs at 845 W. Chino Canyon Road. They put $20,000 as a down payment and financed $85,000 for a total purchase price of $105,000. The home was originally built in 1946 by renowned architect Albert Frey for the Jergens family, known for their skincare products. In 1960, Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s Corporation, purchased the home.
When Elvis bought the house located on a 1.75-acre lot, it was 3,500 square feet. After Elvis and Priscilla got divorced in 1973, Elvis expanded the house with an additional 1,500 square feet. By 1974, Elvis had added a party room with checkerboard flooring, a sauna, a new bedroom with red carpet and two bathrooms with red and white tile.
Elvis would spend an average of about three months in Palm Springs every year. The expansion of the property enabled the transition from a family atmosphere to, as Elvis’ pal Jerry Schilling described, “more of a boys’ club feel” during weekends at the Palm Springs estate.
Since this desert city was famous for having many celebrity residents, Elvis would often run into other entertainers in Palm Springs. “We’d find ourselves hanging out for a night at Liberace’s house, or riding around in a Rolls-Royce Elvis had borrowed from Sammy Davis Jr., at Sammy’s insistence,” Jerry Schilling recalled.
Elvis Presley enjoyed Palm Springs because of the perfect nighttime temperature of the desert. The extremely hot temperatures during the day didn’t bother Elvis because he would be sleeping until the late afternoon, even putting tin foil on the windows to keep out the daytime sun. Nighttime was the perfect time to have parties by the pool or the outside jacuzzi in Palm Springs.
Special acoustic tile was installed by RCA on the ceiling of the living room for a two-day recording session in September 1973. Presley recorded the songs “Are You Sincere,” “I Miss You” and “Sweet Angeline” at the makeshift studio in his Palm Springs home.
After Elvis died, the 4-bedroom 7-bath home, which features an outdoor pool, an indoor sauna and a steam room, was sold to singer Frankie Valli. Over the years, the home has been owned by a variety of owners.
The photos of the house included in this article were taken in 2009 when the author was granted access to the home under the ownership of Reno Fontana. Since then, the home went into bank foreclosure in 2014 and was sold later that year for $1.5 million to an unknown buyer.