Elvis Presley: How a Misunderstanding Photo Led to a Lawsuit

by Halle Ames
elvis-presley-how-misunderstanding-photo-led-lawsuit

You know the saying, a photo is worth a thousand words, well how about this picture of Elvis Presley that was worth thousands of dollars.

Elvis Presley was seen as charming to most, but one person that the King tried to joke around with wasn’t having any of it. The result? A court case involving photos of Elvis eating a sandwich.

Yes. A sandwich.

Joking Around or Assault and Battery?

On June 19, 1956, the King of Rock and Roll decided to go out for a bite to eat after a radio interview. The star was still up and coming but notable enough to be recognized by adoring fans. The 21-year-old handsome, silky-voiced singer strolled into the Gridiron restaurant on Main Street in Memphis with his then-girlfriend Barbara Hearn, photographer Robert Williams, columnist Robert Johnson, and a few other friends, reports Express.

Elvis Presley planted himself down at the bar next to a 20-year-old girl. While most girls would probably swoon at the thought of Elvis Presley joking around with them, Robbie Moore was not in the least.

Presley cozied up next to Moore, placing his head on her shoulder, and helped himself to some of her food. All of this was captured on Williams’ camera, as Johnson recounts the events.

“Elvis spoke to her pleasantly as he entered and said something like, ‘How are you? I haven’t seen you in a long time.’ The girl didn’t say anything. Elvis seemed to be trying to be friendly. He was just teasing and having fun, he opened her purse, looking at her teasingly out of the corner of his eye, but snapped it back shut and put it on the counter. He took a nibble of her sandwich and a sip of her milk. That was all. She still did not respond, and Elvis laid his head on her shoulder as if to say, ‘Come on, let’s be friends.’ He was just acting in a boyish kind of way.”

Elvis Presley Lawsuit

What was seen as “boyish” fun to Elvis Presley backfired into a high-priced lawsuit. Robbie Moore recalled a different scenario that involved “invasion of privacy, assault, and battery.”

Nearly two months later, Presley was notified he was being sued for $42,500. The Inflation Calculator reports that is $420,617 in today’s money.

When the story hit the news, the King claimed that he and Moore had known each other for years and that he had “no idea she would object to the picture.”

Moore had a different claim. According to an interview she gave to the Press-Scimitar, she did not know Elvis.

“She and a friend had ordered cheese sandwiches, and when hers came, Presley ate it all and drank all her milk. He also went through her purse and then laid his head on her shoulder, all of these poses being photographed. To worsen matters, when Presley left, he made no offer to pay for her sandwich and milk. She had to pay for it itself.”

In the end, the case was settled for $5,500, so roughly $54,432 today. Since the case was heavily reported on, Elvis fans began leaving Moore angry phone calls. Furthermore, Moore was forced to quit her job as a telephone operator due to the hostility from coworkers.

Outsider.com