"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Many pretenders to Elvis' throne

by ANDY EDELSTEIN, Newsday.com (May 3, 2005)

What's better than one night with the King? How about two nights? That's what viewers will get next week when CBS airs the two-part, four-hour docudrama "Elvis" (Sunday and Wednesday at 9 p.m.).

So why is this movie different from Elvisfests of the past?

For one, it's being produced with the Presley estate's permission. (That has happened only once before.)

And two, Elvis is being portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("Bend It Like Beckham," "Alexander"), an Irishman who was born 20 days before Elvis died in 1977. As such, Rhys Meyers joins an elite club: actors who have played Presley on TV or in the movies.

Here's a guide to these cinematic impersonators.

Elvis (1979 TV movie)

Played by: Kurt Russell

Star bio: At this point in his career, the future Mr. Goldie Hawn was regarded as basically an aging Disney child star ("The Barefoot Executive," "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes"). In fact, as a 10-year-old, Russell had a role in the 1963 Elvis movie "It Happened at the World's Fair."

The plot: Soon-to-be horrormeister John Carpenter directed this biopic that traced the singer's career from his rise to his Las Vegas years in the late 1960s.

Factoids: Was one of the highest-rated TV movies ever, drawing more viewers than a rerun of "Gone With the Wind" that aired opposite it ... Kurt Russell's father, Bing, played Elvis' father, Vernon ... Russell would marry Season Hubley, who played Priscilla. They later split.

Elvis and the Beauty Queen (1981 TV movie)

Played by: Don Johnson

Star bio: Three years before he made Armani jackets and T-shirts a fashion statement in "Miami Vice," Johnson was the hunky star of such B-movies as "The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart" and "The Harrad Experiment," not to mention TV classics such as "Ski Lift to Death" and "Revenge of the Stepford Wives."

The plot: Post-Priscilla, Elvis hooks up with 21-year-old Miss Universe contestant Linda Thompson (Stephanie Zimbalist of "Remington Steele" fame), who vainly attempts to get him to kick drugs ... before it's too late.

Factoid: A year earlier, director Gus Trikonis had helmed "Touched by Love," a movie about a girl with cerebral palsy (a very young Diane Lane, star of the upcoming film "Must Love Dogs") who is encouraged by her therapist (Deborah Raffin, who has appeared in and directed "7th Heaven") to start a pen-pal relationship with her favorite fried peanut-butter-and-banana-chomping celebrity.

Elvis and Me (1988 TV movie)

Played by: Dale Midkiff

Star bio: Played the young Jock Ewing in the 1986 TV movie prequel, "Dallas: The Early Years."

The plot: This TV mini-series, based on (one-time "Dallas" cast member) Priscilla Presley's bestseller of the same name, told the story of their tumultuous relationship -- from her point of view.

Factoids: The only other Elvis film besides next week's CBS miniseries to be done with the Presley estate's OK... . Midkiff beat Patrick Swayze for the part of Elvis. Following the mini-series, the highest-rated of that season, he was offered parts in three pilots. On a career high, he said, "Once you've played Elvis, man, nothing can touch you."

Elvis (1990 TV series)

Played by: Michael St. Gerard

Star bio: Played Tracy Turnblad's (Ricki Lake) boyfriend in John Waters' movie "Hairspray." He was cast as Elvis after he played the King in the 1989 Jerry Lee Lewis film "Great Balls of Fire." The plot: A half-hour ABC series that, week by week, tracked Elvis' life in '54 and '55, before he became famous.

Factoid: St. Gerard also played Elvis in a 1993 episode of the time-travel series "Quantum Leap."

Elvis and the Colonel: The Untold Story (1993 TV movie)

Played by: Rob Youngblood

Star bio: Not to be confused with Rob Lowe, who starred in the movie "Youngblood," this actor made guest appearances on such shows as "MacGyver" and "Coach."

Plot: The weird relationship between the singer and the man who made him an international superstar, Col. Tom Parker (Beau Bridges). Elvis narrates the movie from "beyond the grave."

Factoids: Phil Penningroth, who adapted "Amy Fisher: My Story" for TV, worked on the film. So did William A. Graham, who directed the Elvis film "Change of Habit." And Ronnie McDowell, who provided Elvis vocals not only for this film but also "Elvis and Me." And Dick Clark, who produced it and the Russell "Elvis" movie.

Elvis Meets Nixon (1997, made-for-cable movie)

Played by: Rick Peters

Star bio: Journeyman character actor.

Plot: "Mockumentary" about Elvis' three-day 1970 trip from Graceland to the White House to become a federal marshal under the DEA, and his subsequent meeting with the president.

Factoid: Before taking the part, Peters, who recently appeared in "CSI: Miami," said of Elvis: "I kind of wrote him off as being an overweight bum." ... Watch for a cameo by Nixon assistant Alexander Butterfield.

Walk the Line (upcoming 2005 movie)

Played by: Tyler Hilton

Star bio: Currently winning the hearts of tween girls everywhere in the WB series "One Tree Hill."

The plot: The film, to be released in November, is about Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix). Presley and Cash were labelmates in the early 1950s at Memphis' legendary Sun Records.

Factoids: Hilton told MTV: "I'm such a big Elvis fan, and I would have been bummed if anyone else got this part. I would've been so jealous."

see also: "Elvis rules on television"

VCD: Joe Esposito's Home Videos of Elvis
Book: Complete Guide to Elvis Presley
CD: Now What (Lisa Presley)
Concert: Greg Page, Mick Gerace & TCB Band in Australia
CD: In The King's Shadow
CD: Lust, Elvis
Show: All Shook Up
CD: Elvis The Cover-Up
Magazine: Elvis The Man & His Music
VCD: Adios The Last Show
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Elvis Film Guide
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Lisa Presley on Larry King Show
Tony Joe White
Stanley Oberst
Bud Glass (part 2)
Bud Glass
Chris Lambeth
Mick Gerace
Greg Page
Bill Burk
Lisa Presley on EPE sale
Larry King transcipt
Red & Sonny West
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
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Online Elvis Symposium
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