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Here’s What 8 Characters from ‘Elvis’ Look Like in Real Life

(Photo Credit: Warner Bros/ moviestillsdb)
(Photo Credit: Warner Bros/ moviestillsdb)

The 2022 biopic, Elvis, features many characters from throughout Elvis Presley’s life. The movie is told from the perspective of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, trying to set the record straight about him taking advantage of the star during his career. But it ultimately tells the story of how Elvis rose to stardom and the people who were there along the way. These are 8 characters from the movie alongside their real-life inspirations.

1. Elvis Presley

Side by side photo of Austin Butler as Elvis standing in a purple suit, and Elvis in black pants and a blue suit holding a guitar.
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley, and Elvis Presley c. 1955. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and Hulton Archive/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Austin Butler takes on the role of “the King” in this biopic. Elvis had his first number one hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” in 1956. After a brief stint in the military, his entertainment career only continued to get better. Elvis kept producing albums and singles and also began starring in movies.

Sadly, Elvis had many personal problems despite his popularity. He had a worsening addiction to prescriptions and a destructive lifestyle. Elvis died on August 16, 1977, at only 42 years old. The cause of death was heart failure related to his addiction.

Even after his death, his musical legacy lives on. He is still recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling solo artist of all time. His former home, Graceland, sees more than half a million fans visit each year.

2. Dixie Locke

Side by side photos of Natasha Bassett standing against a yellow wall in a floral dress, and a black and white photo of Dixie Locke smiling in a dress.
Natasha Bassett as Dixie Locke, and Dixie Locke attending her junior prom in May 1955. (Photo Credits: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/ Getty Images and Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb)

Dixie Locke was Elvis’ first serious girlfriend. They met at the First Assembly of God Church in Memphis in 1954. According to Dixie, Elvis was too shy to talk to her so she purposely made sure that he overhead her making plans to go roller skating. He showed up at the rink and she went over to talk to him, which is how their relationship began.

Dixie and Elvis were dating when he began immensely famous and started touring. They dated for a year and a half, but it appears that their relationship fizzled out because of his busy schedule.

3. Priscilla Presley

Side by side photos of Olivia De Jonge as Priscilla Presley in a pink outfit, and Priscilla Presley in a black and white photograph holding her white dog and smiling.
Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley, and Priscilla Presley with her dog, Honey, 1963. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and Michael Ochs Archives/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Priscilla Presley was Elvis’ wife and mother to their child, Lisa Marie. She met Elvis when she was just 14 years old. Elvis received his draft notice in 1957 and served his time in the US Army which is how he met Priscilla in Germany while her stepfather was stationed there. The two courted for a few years before she moved into Graceland, but it was another few years after that before Elvis proposed. The two were married on May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas. They honeymooned in Palm Springs.

Their marriage was rocky. Elvis was very possessive of Priscilla, to the point that even his closest friends and associates weren’t allowed to be alone in a room with her. He asked for a trial separation from her while she was pregnant with their daughter. There were also allegations that Elvis was unfaithful to her throughout their marriage.
The Presleys separated in 1972, after Priscilla had an affair with her karate instructor, Mike Stone. The couple officially divorced the next year but still co-parented Lisa Marie together. Priscilla attended Elvis’ funeral, and still stays engaged with his legacy. She even appeared at the 2022 Met Gala alongside Austin Butler and the rest of the cast.

4. Gladys Presley

Side by side photos with Elvis and his mother in black and white with Elvis in military uniform, and Maggie Gyllenhaal playing Mrs. Presley crying in a coloured photo.
Maggie Gyllenhaal playing Gladys Presley, and Elvis Presley, on his first leave from the Army, with Mrs. Presley. (Photo Credits: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Gladys Love Smith met Vernon Presley at their church in Mississippi and the two lied about their ages to get married in 1933. Very soon after their wedding, Gladys was pregnant with twins. But, sadly, only one of the babies would survive the birth: Elvis. Gladys was a very important figure in Elvis’ life. The two of them had a very close relationship, which many believe was because of the loss of her other twin.

Gladys moved to the Graceland mansion with Elvis but while there she was very unhappy. She expressed this to many people in her life, telling a friend she wished her family was poor again, and confiding in her cousin that she was “the most miserable woman on Earth.”

Gladys, struggling with the new life that she led, grew depressed and began to drink and take diet pills. She died at only 46 years old from a heart attack. Elvis was devastated at her funeral, and it was reported that he could barely walk after she was buried. The death of his mother is something that he never really got over.

5. Vernon Presley

Side by side photos of Richard Roxburgh playing Elvis' father crying in a blue suit, and Vernon Presley in black and white playing pool.
Richard Roxburgh as Vernon Presley, Elvis’ father, and Vernon Presley playing pool c. 1950. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ movestillsdb and Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Vernon Presley was only 17 when he met Gladys. She was four years older than him, but they married anyway. When Elvis began rising in fame, Vernon took on the role of his mentor, working very closely with his son. He also managed Elvis’ affairs at Graceland.

After Gladys died, Vernon married Davada Mae Elliott Stanley and the two of them moved into their own house on the Graceland estate. They eventually divorced in 1977. Vernon lived two years longer than his son, so acted as the executor of his estate at that time. Upon his own death, the estate went to Lisa Marie.

6. Jerry Schilling

Side by side photos of Luke Bracey, playing Schilling, sitting down on a red chair, and Jerry Shilling standing in black and white.
Luke Bracey as Jerry Schilling, and Jerry Schilling taking the media on a tour of Graceland prior to the premiere of the documentary, “This Is Elvis” (Photo Credits: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and George Rose/ Getty Images)

Jerry Schilling was one of Elvis’ closest friends. They met when Jerry joined a game of touch football in Memphis where Elvis was the quarterback and they quickly became friends. Jerry went on to work for Elvis, becoming a part of his Memphis Mafia – his closest confidants and associates.

After Elvis died, Jerry went on to work with other famous clients like the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. He is one of many people to write a tell-all book about his friendship with Elvis and his time working with him.

7. Little Richard

Side by side photo of and Alton Mason playing Little Richard, signing into a microphone, and Little Richard playing the piano in black and white
Alton Mason as Little Richard, and Little Richard performs onstage with his band c. 1957. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and Michael Ochs Archives/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Little Richard was a famous singer and songwriter who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. He, along with Elvis, is seen to be one of the reasons why rock and roll became more mainstream. He had a very successful music career and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Little Richard has talked about Elvis in the past and his rise to fame. He spoke highly of Elvis and his music, although he thought that “the door opened wider [for Elvis]” because he was White than it did for Black rock and roll musicians.

8. Colonel Tom Parker

Side by side photos of Tom Hanks as Tom Parker Tom Parker and
Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, and Colonel Tom Parker c. 1955. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ moviestillsdb and Keystone Features/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

This influential figure in Elvis’ life was played by Tom Hanks. Colonel Tom Parker was Elvis Presley’s manager and the person who discovered him in 1955. He was influential in many of the important decisions that Elvis made throughout his life. He served as Elvis’ manager for his entire career, until his death. Even after he died, Elvis’ name kept making money for the Colonel because he sold Elvis merchandise.

Even before his work with Elvis, the Colonel was an interesting individual. He served in the US Army before going missing without leave, for which he served time in military prison. He was discharged from the Army after being diagnosed as a psychopath.

More from us: Elvis Presley’s Relatives All Cried After Seeing the New Biopic on His Life

When the Second World War came around, the Colonel decided that in order to get declared unfit for service he would eat until he weighed over 300 pounds. He was successful and did not serve. Despite what his name might indicate, he never reached the rank of Colonel.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.