Elvis Presley’s jet black locks were as important to his mystique as his swiveling hips or curled lip. But that wasn’t his real hair color. Not even close.
There are several photos online showing his real hair color, but it’s fairly rare to see Elvis without the shoe-polish-dark black hair. He was actually a blonde. It looks Photoshopped whenever you see a photo of him with his natural hair. An alternate universe Elvis where he was a traveling preacher rather than a Memphis crooner and rock god.
According to HMV, his hair began to get naturally darker in his late teens from dirty blonde to light brown. It was never the jet black that he wore when he was famous. That came thanks to shoe polish because hair dye was too expensive for him as a teen. Once he was wealthy enough to buy shoe polish factories, he had moved on to a specific mix of dyes to get that color. It was a combination of Miss Clairol 51D and Black Velvet/Mink Brown by Paramount that Hollywood hairstylist Larry Geller concocted for him. He divulged the recipe to Yahoo Beauty in 2015.
Though Elvis did use shoe polish once or twice later in life, it was reported.
Elvis Presley Asked His Wife to Dye Her Hair Black as Well
“Elvis insisted that [Priscilla] dye her hair jet black to make her blue eyes stand out more and have it teased high into a beehive do,” Sonny West, Elvis’ former bodyguard, wrote in his 2007 memoir, Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business.
In their wedding photos, Priscilla and Elvis both have stark black, teased-tall hair.
In a 2015 interview, she admitted that The King pushed her to ditch her natural red hair for black.
“He did want me to dye my hair black when I was young so we could look alike a little bit,” she said.