Graceland Gatekeeper & Publicist David Beckwith Dies At Age 67
David Beckwith, Known For His Work With Elvis Presley’s Graceland Estate, Has Died
David Beckwith, the gatekeeper and publicist for Elvis Presley’s Graceland has died, The Hollywood Reporter confirms.
Publicist Lynn Weiss told the Reporter Beckwith died on Friday (January 19), after developing sepsis following a hip replacement surgery. He was 67 years old.
Who Was David Beckwith?
Beckwith was born on April 28, 1956, in Albion, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. From there, Beckwith started his career in 1979 at Rogers & Cowan, a marketing and public relations agency.
Also in 1979, Beckwith orchestrated a deal for Moet & Chandon to be a sponsor and the exclusive champagne of the Golden Globe Awards. It remains the official champagne of the ceremony to this day.
Beckwith launched his own company, the The Beckwith Co., in 1982.
Additionally, Beckwith represented chef and restauranter Wolfgang Puck for many years. In this role, Beckwith helped arrange an annual Governors Ball dinner at Puck’s Spago restaurant for those in the entertainment industry who were not in attendance at the Academy Awards. Beckwith brought in a large TV so partygoers could watch the awards ceremony at the dinner.
Beckwith was also viewed as a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ community. He served on local and national boards of The Human Rights Campaign throughout his life. Beckwith also played a key role in creating Outfest, the largest LGBTQ+ film festival in the world.
Graceland Pays Tribute
But Beckwith was perhaps most well-known for serving as the gatekeeper and publicist for Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee. He represented Graceland since it opened to the public as a museum in 1982.
Lisa Marie Presley’s eldest daughter, Riley Keough, is now the sole heir of Graceland.
When Graceland opened to the public, Beckwith managed the 700+ media members gathered there for Priscilla Presley’s opening news conference. He continued working for Graceland and its associated Elvis Presley Enterprises until his death.
Graceland shared a tribute to Beckwith after his passing, writing:
“David was not only a colleague, but a dear friend to so many of us and a beloved member of our Graceland family. His wit, sassiness, laughter, and kindness will live on in the hearts of those who knew him well – and his contribution and dedication to the Elvis legacy will forever be remembered.”
Beckwith is survived by Dietrich Nelson, his partner of 42 years and husband for 15 years. He is also survived by his beloved pets, Edie, Arlen, Daisy, and Doris.
Beckwith’s loved ones and friends will be in our thoughts during this difficult time.