5 Insane Elvis Myths That'll Leave You Scratching Your Head
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the first television appearance of a certain country singer named Elvis Presley. Though he’s been dead for decades, he’s still part of a select group of pop culture icons whose legacy has become part of American mythology. Like Marilyn Monroe or Michael Jackson, his life—and death—are mysteries that continue to fill tabloids decades later. In fact, these larger-than-life stories about his time in the spotlight have become more memorable than his actual music (can anyone name more than three of his songs?). Indeed, they’re among some of the most bizarre entries in the long history of bizarre celebrity tales. Here are five myths about the icon that, despite being told as gospel, are complete and utter bullshit.
Elvis was a Special Operative DEA Agent.
Because after two decades as a rock ‘n’ roll musician, who wouldn’t want to join a federal bureau dedicated to hunting down drug criminals? At least that’s what some conspiracy theorists think. What did happen was a much-publicized meeting between The King and President Richard Nixon, wherein he shared his thoughts on hippies, the British, and ’60s counterculture in general. To prove his commitment to these ‘anti-American’ movements, Elvis requested that Nixon bestow upon him a badge proving his commitment to an anti-drug life. Many speculate that this was secretly an agreement for Elvis to begin his service with the DEA, and that his death was later a cover-up to allow him to operate more covertly in catching drug perpetrators.
Elvis and Oprah are cousins.
The belief that Elvis and television goddess/chieftain of the universe, Oprah Winfrey, are close cousins has been going on for over a decade. With so many user-friendly genealogy websites like Family Tree and Ancestry.com out there, it got really easy for all the Elvis-obsessed grandmas of the world to start drawing conclusions of their own. Which has led to the persistent “proof” of Elvis and Oprah sharing bloodlines through common ancestors in Mississippi with the last name “Pressley.” There are even darker myths out there, such as the one about Oprah’s ancestors having possibly been slaves on the plantation of Elvis’ ancestors, and subsequently adopting their name. None of these stories are likely, but the fact that so many people are passionate about tying Elvis’ ancestry to Oprah’s is intriguing in itself.
Elvis had his karate instructor assassinated.
Being rich and powerful certainly has its perks—hiring a hit man to covertly kill your enemies being just one of them. Elvis’ misogynistic decadence in the ’70s naturally left his wife of more than six years, Priscilla, feeling a little upset. So in a perfectly understandable turn of events, she decided to have a little affair for herself. The man in question was the Presley’s karate instructor, Mike Stone, a sensei whom Elvis had personally selected to train his wife. Myth-makers say that when The King found out about the relationship, he reportedly flew into a rage that lasted for 36 hours, barely managing to calm down when administered with sedatives. The rumor mill has it that Elvis summoned his personal squad of security cronies, nicknamed the “Memphis Mafia,” to go off Stone, Goodfellas style. Seeing that Stone didn’t die until years later, this story seems unlikely. That is, unless Elvis was a criminal mastermind who planned his death years into the future, which would honestly be kind of amazing.
Elvis’ pet monkey died of alcoholism.
Rich and famous people always seem to have their fair share of exotic pets, so it barely registers as odd that Elvis had a pet chimpanzee named Scatter. Elvis and Scatter had a beautiful relationship in the beginning; Scatter would wear Hawaiian shirts and other assorted human clothing, and had free reign throughout Graceland. Elvis even gave him rides with his chauffeur and taught him party tricks like pulling up women’s skirts. Things get a bit darker, however, with the persistent legend that little Scatter died from liver cirrhosis, which would’ve meant that the poor pet monkey was being spoon-fed alcohol until he became addicted and died. In the hopes that Scatter lived a more humane life, one must assume that this isn’t true. But for those curious about Scatter’s glamorous life, be sure to visit his fan-made memorial page.
Elvis is still alive.
Which brings us to the Granddaddy of all the Elvis myths: that Presley is alive and well. There are rumors within stories within legends regarding his death, so many that trying to make sense of them all is like watching Inception after your fourth bong rip. Some claim that his Graceland mansion was equipped with a secret tunnel, left over from the Underground Railroad, which allowed him to crawl out of his house when he decided to “die.” Many believe in the story that someone who looked suspiciously like Elvis, and went by the name of John Burrows, bought a plane ticket out of Memphis to Buenos Aires the day after Presley’s death. Others say the photos of Presley’s corpse in his casket were in fact a wax figure, and the fact that his middle name is spelled wrong on his gravestone is another indicator of his planned fake death. We could literally go on for pages, but we won’t. If you’re interested, you can peep these authoritative conspiracy pages for yourself. Americans have a hard time letting legends die, but in the case of Elvis, it doesn’t get more absurd.
Stay tuned to Milk for more celebrity conspiracy theories.
Main image by Kathryn Chadason. Additional images via The National Archives, Freaking News, Rogert.co, and Hulton Archive/Getty Images.