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In 1955, Elvis Presley’s career was heating up, and his new record label gave him a bonus that proved his promise as an artist. RCA Victor bought Elvis’ contract for an unprecedented sum, considerably padding the singer’s pockets. He used his bonus on his mother, Gladys Presley.

Elvis purchased a gift for his mother with his record label bonus

Elvis had an incredibly close relationship with his mother. He spent most of his time with her while growing up and dreamed of a day when he could provide for her and his father.

“Elvis would hear us worrying about our debts, being out of work and sickness,” Gladys said in the book Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, “and he’d say, ‘Don’t you worry none, Baby. When I grow up, I’m going to buy you a fine house and pay everything you owe at the grocery store and get two Cadillacs — one for you and Daddy and one for me.’”

A pink Cadillac with a white roof is surrounded by white fencing.
Elvis’ pink Cadillac | Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

His father, Vernon, “[just] didn’t want him to have to steal one.” Luckily, this was not an issue. He purchased his mother a custom pink Cadillac in the summer of 1955. 

In September, Elvis’ friend was driving the car and got into an accident that caused $1,000 worth of damage. Luckily, RCA Victor soon purchased his contract for an unprecedented $35,000. They also gave Elvis a $5,000 bonus. He used the money to fix up the car for his mother and paint the roof white.

It’s not surprising that Elvis used his record label bonus on his mother

Elvis and Gladys were so close that it comes as no surprise that he spent his bonus on her gift. Elvis’ bodyguard, Red West, said the singer only truly loved two people in life: Priscilla Presley and his mother. Priscilla herself believed Elvis saw Gladys as the love of his life.

“I was to learn that Elvis’ mother, Gladys, was the love of his life,” Priscilla wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “She had died on August 14, 1958, at age 42, of heart failure following a long siege of acute hepatitis. He expressed how deeply he loved and missed her and how in many ways he dreaded returning to Graceland without her there.”

He would have done anything for Gladys, so buying her a Cadillac was likely an easy decision.

The singer became notorious for giving away Cadillacs

Gladys was far from the only person who received a Cadillac from Elvis. He loved buying expensive presents for people, and reportedly gave away roughly 200 Cadillacs. He gave away so many of the cars that Johnny Carson joked about it in his monologue. 

A black and white picture of Elvis walking past a Cadillac.
Elvis Presley | Archive Photos/Getty Images

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“Well, let’s go to the news and see if Elvis Presley gave his parakeet a new Cadillac,” he said on The Tonight Show. “Did you notice that? Presley’s giving everybody Cadillacs. You say hello and Elvis gives you a Cadillac.”