ELVIS family members, who knew The King so intimately that they would spend hours conversing with him on his bed upstairs at Graceland, were extremely disappointed that they were not invited to the Graceland premiere of the Elvis film. Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith, the last surviving original Memphis Mafia member, is portrayed in the biopic, and he and his wife Jo, two of the last people to see the singer alive, believe they were not invited due to their lack of sophistication.
In June, the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis film starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks took place at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. There were three generations of The King’s family present, from his ex-wife Priscilla and only child Lisa Marie to his granddaughters Riley, Harper, and Finley, whom he had never met. Jerry Schilling, a Memphis Mafia member who frequently appears alongside Priscilla at Elvis-related events, was also present. However, some of The King’s closest friends and relatives were absent.
Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith, the last surviving original Memphis Mafia member, knew The King before he became famous and was with him in the upstairs bathroom of Graceland on August 16, 1977, just hours before the star died there of a heart attack. He is depicted in a few scenes of the biopic, but he and his wife Jo, who shared the singer’s Memphis mansion, claimed they were neither invited to the premiere nor consulted about the film.
In a three-part review of the Elvis film on their YouTube channel Elvis Fans Matter, the couple praised Butler’s performance but felt the film “betrayed” the music legend on multiple levels. Jo commented on the portrayal of Billy in the biopic, saying, “It didn’t upset you. I mean, you were depicted in the film, but that’s not what angered me. It was because the premiere took place in Memphis, and we were not invited despite the fact that others who were not close to Elvis were. A large portion of Elvis’ family was not invited to the premiere, and I don’t know who sent out the invitations – though I have a pretty good idea – but I thought that was incredibly insensitive.
She also mentioned those who were absent, such as Elvis’ major girlfriends after he divorced Priscilla Presley. On social media, Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden, who discovered his body, have expressed their annoyance at being “erased” from the biopic. Jo continued by asking, “What is an invitation?” It’s almost as if they are saying, “You’re not good enough, you’re not sophisticated enough, you’re not their Hollywood type, and you don’t belong there.” Those individuals had the same right to be present as the rest of the family. And the people they asked who were not close to him took up slots for his family and friends. I mean, I’m just venting, but it irritates me that nobody is superior to anyone else. When we die, if we are cremated, the hole will be the same size for everyone; therefore, you should take it.”
The couple emphasized that this was only their opinion and that they did not wish to discourage Elvis fans from viewing the film repeatedly. Lisa Marie Presley had a great time at the Graceland premiere, praising the Elvis film for accurately portraying her father 45 years after his untimely death at the age of 42. On stage during the special screening, The King’s only child stated, “I feel so privileged to be a part of this. I truly did not anticipate this. I had no idea what to expect. I saw it twice. I was nervous the first time I saw it; I was gripping the chair and wondering, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen? How will the actor perform? Is there going to be mayhem?’ In terms of portrayals of my father in various films or attempts to…bless their hearts…, my life has been a series of disappointments. however, allow me to tell you something. At this point, I say with all my heart, and it’s the sole reason I’m here, “It’s been done correctly.”
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