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Elvis close family members ‘aggravated' not to be invited to movie premiere ‘Really tacky'

Daily Express logo Daily Express 12/08/2022 George Simpson
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Back in June, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis movie starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks had a premiere in Memphis, Tennessee at 's home of Graceland. Three generations of The King's family were present, from his ex-wife Priscilla and his only child Lisa Marie to the granddaughters he never met in Riley, Harper and Finley. Also in attendance was Memphis Mafia member Jerry Schilling, who appears at lots of Elvis events with Priscilla. However, some close friends and family of The King's were nowhere to be seen.

Elvis' cousin Billy Smith, the last surviving original Memphis Mafia member, knew The King before he was famous and was with him in the Graceland upstairs bathroom just hours before the star died there of a heart attack on August 16, 1977.

He's portrayed in a couple of scenes of the biopic, but he and his wife Jo, who lived at the Memphis mansion with the singer, claimed they weren't invited to the premiere, nor consulted on the movie.

In a three-part review of the Elvis movie on their YouTube channel Elvis Fans Matter, the couple did praise Butler's performance but felt the film - which is now available to rent or buy on streaming - "betrayed" the music icon on a number of levels.

butler as elvis, priscilla, lisa and riley © WB/GETTY butler as elvis, priscilla, lisa and riley elvis and memphis mafia © GETTY elvis and memphis mafia

Commenting on Billy being portrayed in the biopic, Jo said: "It didn't upset you. I mean you were portrayed in the movie, but that part's not what aggravated. It was that the premiere was in Memphis and we were not invited to the premiere when other people that were not close to Elvis [were]. A lot of Elvis' family was not invited to the premiere and I don't know who did the invitations - I've got a pretty good idea - but I just thought that was really tacky. "

She also mentioned names of others who weren't in attendance like major girlfriends of Elvis' after he divorced Priscilla Presley. These include Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden - the latter found his body - who have shared their annoyance on social media at being "erased" from the biopic.

READ MORE: Lisa Marie's lifetime of 'disappointment' cured at Elvis premiere

elvis movie posters © WB elvis movie posters billy and jo © FACEBOOK billy and jo

Jo continued: "What's an invitation? It's almost like, 'you're not good enough, you're not sophisticated enough, you're not their Hollywood type, you don't need to be there.' Well, all those people had as much right as any of the rest of the family to be there. And the people that they asked that were not close to him, they took up family and friends slots. I mean, I'm just sounding off, but it just irritates me because nobody's better than anybody else. When we die, if you're cremated the hole is gonna be the same size for everybody, so take it."

The couple emphasised that all this was just their opinion and they didn't want to dissuade fans who like the Elvis movie from seeing it again and again.

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Nevertheless, Lisa Marie Presley had a wonderful time at the Graceland premiere, praising the Elvis movie as finally getting her father right some 45 years after his untimely death at just 42 years old.

On stage at the special screening, The King's only child said: "I do want to say that I feel so honoured to be a part of this. I really wasn't expecting this. I didn't know what to expect. I saw it twice. The first time that I saw it I was nervous, I was gripping the chair going like, 'Oh God, what's going to happen? How's the actor going to be? Is it going to be crazy?' In my life, it's been one disappointment after the other in terms of people portraying my father in various films or attempts to...bless their hearts...but let me just tell you something. At this point, I tell you this with all my heart and it's the only reason that I'm here: It's been done right."

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