Elvis Presley: Here’s Who The King Thought Did the Best Impersonation of Him

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Elvis Presley impersonators may be a dime a dozen now. But people actually started back when the King was still alive. They say impersonation is the greatest form of flattery. And even Presley had his own favorite impersonator out of the bunch.

Presley was a fan of the late comedian Andy Kaufman. Kaufman actually helped kick off the Elvis impersonator craze. According to the Village Voice, Presley enjoyed Kaufman’s impression of him. And he also thought it was hilarious.

Kaufman first wowed audiences on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1977. First, the comedian kicked off his guest spot by doing his popular Foreign Man routine. But Kaufman then transformed into a dead ringer for Presley himself.

Slicking his hair back, Kaufman treated audiences to some of Presley’s signature dances. He even managed to match Presley’s distinct bravado in his singing voice. It was like Presley was standing in the building for a few moments. And the audience also couldn’t enough.

Andy Kaufman and Elvis Presley

Andy Kaufman made a career off his impressions and also his unique brand of comedy. Just ask his character, Tony Clifton, for instance. Growing up, Kaufman was a big fan of Elvis Presley and his music. He even put up posters and album covers on his walls.

According to a memoir by Kaufman’s friend Bob Zmuda, Kaufman even wrote a book about Elvis in his free time. He was also determined to meet Presley even if that meant getting tackled by a guard. Kaufman hid in a service kitchen and waited for Presley at one of his concerts. As Presley was leaving out the back, Kaufman popped out with his manuscript for his Elvis book in hand.

Rather than shoo away the excited fan, Presley took a few moments and spoke with Kaufman. The comedian promised Presley that he would be famous himself one day. The King, not one to crush a dream, agreed that Kaufman just might. Presley then left and continued along his way. But Kaufman never forgot the encounter and used it for motivation to prove Presley right.

Fans of Jim Carrey may remember the Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon,” for telling Kaufman’s journey. The comedian achieved a level of fame. And he became known for his off-brand humor that made people angry as it did make them laugh. Kaufman died from cancer in 1984. But like Presley, his idol, there have been rumors over the years that he faked his death.