The epic biopic “Elvis” covers a lot of ground — 42 years, to be exact — from the iconic singer’s birth to his death in 1977.
Given the inevitable event compression requirement for any film looking to cover decades in hours, one has to wonder how much “Elvis” actually happened to Elvis Presley?
From director Baz Luhrmann’s research in Memphis and Elvis’ birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi, to well-researched biographies, the film has admirable accuracy, which is now in theaters. Also credit the studious portrayal of King of Rock ‘n’ Roll star Austin Butler.
But we did identify six moments in “Elvis” that left us scratching our heads. How true are they? For answers, we enlisted expert Alana Nash, author of several Elvis books (including “The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley” and “Baby, Let’s Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him”). did. ,
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Did Bibi King and Elvis Presley really hang out on Beale Street together?
King, who worked as a DJ in Memphis at the time, would certainly have known about Elvis, and vice versa, but they don’t hang and catch acts like Little Richard, Nash, says Nash. it is said.
“Elvis and Bibi were acquaintances but not close friends. They probably crossed paths at Sun Studio at first, but only for a short time,” she says.
An encounter took place in December 1956, when King was the headliner on the all-black WDIA Goodwill Review. Elvis was asked to perform, but his contract would not allow it, Nash says.
But at the end of the evening, DJ Rufus Thomas brought Elvis out for “leg gyrations and the crowd went wild”. Backstage, King and Presley posed for a picture together.
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Was Robert F Kennedy Dead While Elvis Was Taping ’68 Comeback Special’?
The senator was shot elsewhere in Los Angeles, says Nash, and not during the taping of that iconic Elvis TV special, but during rehearsals.
“Elvis arrived for the start of a two-week rehearsal on June 3, 1968, and Kennedy was shot on June 5, dying the next morning on June 6,” she says. “The murder put Elvis in an emotional spiral.”
The tailspin created by RFK’s death led straight to the special’s powerful finale. The show’s director/producer Steve Binder turned to songwriter Earl Brown to write an emotional song, “If I Could Dream”, which reflects Elvis’ hopes that the nation can go through such a crisis and recover. .
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“Interestingly, Elvis didn’t jump on him right away,” Nash says. “He thought it might be a little too Broadway. He said, ‘Let me hear it again,’ and only after hearing it seven or eight times did he say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ ,
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Did Colonel Tom Parker convince Elvis to play Las Vegas to settle Parker’s gambling debts?
The connection isn’t nearly as straightforward as the film implies, which presents a residence at the International Hotel for Elvis’ manager to settle his large gambling debts at the hotel casino.
Nash notes that Parker was an avid gambler dating back to his early years in the carnival business, often dumping for Hot Springs, Arkansas, or Palm Springs, California, to meet his needs. Once there he experienced Las Vegas, which became a frequent stop for the promoter.
That’s not to say that Parker’s gambling and the Elvis Vegas show aren’t connected, she says. Nash says that the Colonel was said to be worth $1 million a year to the International because of his gambling, according to one-time International executive Alex Schufi.
“Rumor spread throughout the city that Milton Prell, the former owner of Shoofie in the Sahara, brokered a deal for (Elvis) the Colonel, receiving money from the crowd to put the deal together. The film suggested crowd participation. Gone,” says Nash.
Did Elvis go to the military to avoid being arrested for indecency?
Not true, says Nash. “The colonel was happy that Elvis was causing the riots and grabbing headlines for being overly suggestive,” she says. “It’s part of why he wanted her in the first place. Parker, who was ever sexier, knew what brought people to the big tent.”
After Elvis was drafted, Parker—whom Nash Note was an Army fugitive—worked with the Pentagon to ensure he would be a regular soldier and not in the Recreation Corps. “They negotiated it as a PR ploy to show him as the all-American guy,” she says.
Interestingly, while Elvis was stationed in Germany, he met future General Colin Powell, who was then a lieutenant.
Nash says that Powell told him that he and Presley were “in a field in the woods in Germany, and he looked just like every other soldier (soldier) doing what the other soldiers were doing and looking forward to getting along.” Were trying. He saluted properly and the sir swung me left and right, and I always admired him.”
Did Elvis really set the Colonel on fire from the stage in Las Vegas?
“No, he would never have done that,” Nash says. Nor did he ever suggest on stage that he knew about the colonel’s immigration issues. “He had full faith in the Colonel’s story that Parker had come from Huntington, West Virginia; Elvis died not knowing the truth. He didn’t appear in this country until 1981,” she says.
However, he adds, there was an incident a few years before his death when Baron Hilton, the owner of the Elvis Hilton, blew up. Elvis had gone to the home of an employee of his choice, whose wife was dying of cancer, and Hilton terminated the employee because of a rule banning any contact between employees and hotel talent.
Off the stage that night, Elvis launched a furious attack on Hilton, saying that he “didn’t deserve a damn,” she says. Parker was furious. The two argued into the night, until Elvis, in their 30-floor suite, fired Parker, who promptly replied that he had left and, as depicted in the film, “to prepare a bill for his Retired from the offices” which he claimed had been given to him by Elvis. ,
She says the amount varies from $2 million to $10 million, and as the film shows, Elvis eventually decides he can’t pay and goes back to work for the Colonel.
Did Priscilla Presley really arrange for Elvis to go to rehab?
No, says Nash. “She says in her book ‘Elvis and Me’ that she would sometimes hear that she checked into the hospital, and then she would call to see if she was okay,” Nash says.
In another book, “Elvis by the Presleys,” Priscilla Presley says that many people asked her why she didn’t initiate the intervention.
Her response: “Those who ask don’t know Elvis. Elvis would have responded no more to interference than a demand to quit singing. … He would undoubtedly laugh off any attempt at interference. Someone, including his father No, who could have pulled him off.”
While Elvis was trying to get help for his addictions, his ex-wife was no longer in his life on a daily basis. Adds Nash: “Priscilla was not as involved with Elvis after their divorce as people would now believe.”