Today, Elvis Presley would turn 83 years old. But the King died in 1977, leaving us wondering about all the music he never got a chance to record. Elvis was also an actor, starring in a string of cheesy movie musicals like Change of Habit and The Trouble With Girls. Here are some movies he could’ve been in…but wasn’t.
John Wayne won an Oscar for his role as aging gunslinger Rooster Cogburn, hired by a teenager to exact vengeance for her father’s death. The classic 1969 Western almost starred not one but two American pop culture icons. The role of the Texas Ranger played by singer Glen Campbell was first offered to another singer: Elvis. But Presley’s overbearing manager, Colonel Tom Parker, turned it down because filmmakers wouldn’t give the King top billing over the Duke.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
Elizabeth Taylor was unforgettable as Maggie the Cat in the 1958 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play. So was Paul Newman as brooding, secretive Brick. He won the role over Elvis.
THE JAMES DEAN STORY
Elvis was a huge James Dean fan, and he’d seen Rebel Without a Cause so many times that he’d memorized the film’s dialogue. He was thrilled when the producers of a James Dean biopic offered him the chance to star. Then they pulled the rug out from underneath him—they decided to make it a documentary instead.
Jon Voight earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a male prostitute in the provocative 1969 film. The movie’s content is precisely why Colonel Tom Parker turned it down on Presley’s behalf.
BYE BYE BIRDIE
The musical is about a rock star who participates in a PR stunt to kiss a fan before he ships off to join the military—and it’s obviously inspired by Elvis. Oddly enough, producers wanted the real Elvis to play Conrad Birdie and include some of his songs, but once again, Col. Parker passed on it.
Real-life ‘50s teen idol Frankie Avalon cameos in the 1978 musical as Teen Angel, the dreamlike vision who sings “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchy. First choice to play Teen Angel: Elvis. He just wasn’t destined for the role—he wound up passing away when the movie was filming.