For the third iteration of this oft-revisited title, the one and only Elvis Presley was actually producer & lead Barbara Streisand‘s first pick. What could’ve possibly stopped this remarkable “what if” from happening?
Most today associate A Star Is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. This “timeless tale,” however, was first put to film close to a century ago in 1937 with Fredric March and Janet Gaynor. Then, in 1954, Judy Garland and James Mason gave the first remake.
For much of the 60s and 70s, another reboot was in the works. By the latter, Barbara Streisand and her then-boyfriend, Jon Peters, held production rights. Streisand herself was to tackle the lead role of the film – but who was to star opposite her as their iteration of John Norman Howard?
Fascinatingly, the documents still exist that show the beloved diva’s first pick for the role – and it was none other than The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Elvis Presley.
Elvis and Streisand had met a handful of times after Las Vegas shows, with the Oscar-winning actress and prolific singer even pitching the film to Presley herself. In a 2014 interview with Billboard, Streisand touched on her time courting the King for her A Star Is Born reboot:
“His career was slightly in decline, he was overweight, and I thought he was perfect to play that part,” she told the trade. Not the kindest of words, sure, but true ones nonetheless.
What, then, came between Elvis and the role that could’ve revitalized his entire career and life as a whole?
Colonel Tom Parker Botched Elvis Presley’s Chances at ‘A Star Is Born’
Much has been written about the oft-contentious relationship between Elvis’ infamously tight manager, Colonel Tom Parker and the King. So much so, that Tom Hanks is set to play the Colonel in a biopic reflecting their long relationship. And as it turns out, Parker is the reason Presley wouldn’t make A Star is Born with Streisand, among may other failings in the icon’s twilight.
According to The Vintage News, Elvis’ manager took over negotiations for the reboot, then “overplayed his hand.”
Colonel Parker reportedly asked Streisand for a whopping $1 million upfront just for Elvis to star in the film. Then, he required “50 percent of the profits” for his legendary client to play ball.
Barbara Streisand, however, was already Hollywood royalty at this point. She and her producing team felt their iteration would be a success with or without Elvis Presley. They refused to buy into Parker’s steep demands as a result, and moved on.
With the potential of Elvis starring behind them, Streisand and her team settled on Kris Kristofferson to co-star – and the rest is history.
Critics were not kind to 1976’s A Star Is Born when it hit. This was mostly due to Streisand – who was 34 at the time of filming – being too powerful a presence for audiences to buy her as a wandering “unknown.”
Kristofferson, however, won over audiences with his stellar performance. Both would win Golden Globes for lead Actor & Actress for their iteration.
Tragically, and less than a year later, Elvis Presley would be dead at the terribly young age of 42. He would breathe his last on August 16, 1977. His estate, however, still holds the documents that prove him as Streisand’s first choice. Watch Graceland‘s remarkable discovery below: