Elvis Presley was a multitalented man. He was the King of Rock and Roll. His talents didn’t stop with what he could do behind the microphone. He was also a pretty good dancer. However, he adapted most of his dance moves from his martial arts training. Yeah, Elvis was a black belt. No biggie. The King was also a huge box office draw. He was in several films over the course of his career.
There is a long-standing legend that Elvis Presley wanted to be in West Side Story. In fact, the story goes that Elvis was approached to be one of the leads. However, his manager, Tom Parker, wouldn’t have it. So, the King didn’t get to be a Jet.
In a recent interview, George Chakiris, who played Bernardo in the 1961 film, talked about that legend. Fox News asked Chakiris about Elvis Presley’s potential involvement in the film. The West Side Story star said that the story was just that. A story.
Chakiris said that he never heard Elvis Presley’s name come up while making the movie. He went on to say, “I personally think it’s just a rumor that caught some kind of life over the years. It’s my understanding that Elvis didn’t want to do A Star is Born so I can’t imagine that he would want to do West Side Story.”
Whey Chakiris is (Probably) Wrong About Elvis Presley’s Desire to be in West Side Story
Firstly, Elvis Presley did want to do A Star is Born. He was a huge fan of Barbara Streisand and really wanted to work with her. However, “Colonel” Tom Parker made such ridiculous demands that the production couldn’t afford him. Among those demands was for Elvis to get top-billing over the Oscar-winning Streisand. It was a no-go.
We can go a little further with this, though. Do you know why Elvis Presley never appeared in a film with John Wayne? Take a guess. If you guessed “Because Tom Parker expected Elvis to get top-billing over John by-God Wayne,” you’d be right.
Let’s do one more. Do you know why Elvis Presley didn’t cover Dolly Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You?” Yeah, Parker ruined that, too. He did so by demanding that Dolly “The Patron Saint of Appalachia” Parton sign over half of the publishing rights to the song after Elvis cut it. She wasn’t about to give up half of her publishing rights. That was a smart move, too. Dolly could retire on the money she made from Whitney Houston’s cover of the song.
Are you seeing a trend here?
So, knowing all that, it is easy to believe that Elvis Presley really wanted to be in West Side Story but Parker found a way to ruin his chances of doing so. However, Chakiris might be right. The world may never know.
The real lesson here is that Tom Parker was the worst.