Elvis Presley’s tragic death on August 16, 1977, shocked the world. The so-called King of Rock ‘n Roll’s passing was a heartbreaking blow to both his legion of die-hard fans and the music industry. While Presley’s health and public image had been on the decline in the years leading up to his death, it was still entirely unexpected to see such a massive celebrity perish so suddenly.
Presley once sat on top of the musical world, but his stature had fallen throughout the 70s. He put on a ton of weight, and many saw him as some sort of parody of himself. That being said, this was a rock star whose career survived through the British Invasion, the Psychedelic Era, the rise of Heavy Metal, and even Disco.
While he wasn’t quite as big as he once was, he was still selling out arenas in 1976. If he had managed to stay healthy, he likely would have survived a lot longer than he had. Officially his cause of death was listed as a heart attack, but it’s known that his addiction to prescription drugs took a significant toll on his body. Coupled with the weight that he had gained, Elvis’ body was simply unable to sustain his excessively indulgent lifestyle.
While we could easily devote an entire video just to discussing the public’s reaction to Presley’s passing and the impact that his demise had on the music industry, in this video, we’re actually going to be taking a look at 8 tragic deaths of celebrities that had close connections to Elvis.
This actor was best known for his role as Johnny Yuma on the ABC western series The Rebel. Adams first met Presley while on the set of his 1956 film Love Me Tender. Throughout the remainder of that year, Adams regularly visited Elvis’s Hollywood hotel suite and his Graceland home in Memphis.
Adams even joined Presley at shows, including his record-breaking October 1956 performance at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, and his Homecoming concert at the Tupelo Fairgrounds in September.
Adams was also responsible for introducing Presley to actress Natalie Wood, who would later also end up dying under tragic and rather suspicious circumstances.
In January of 1968, Adam’s already floundering acting career took another blow when a movie he was set to appear in was suddenly canceled in Rome. Discouraged and feeling defeated, Adams returned back to his home in Beverly Hills where he was later found dead of a drug overdose on the evening of February 7, 1968.
Whether or not he intended to take his own life was never determined, although according to his autopsy report, he had enough sedatives in his system to ’cause instant unconsciousness’. Adams was laid to rest at a cemetery in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He was just 36 years old when he died.
Kaufman was arguably best known for his role as Latka Gravas on Taxi.
While most people think of Kaufman as being a comedian, he preferred to refer to himself as a ‘song and dance man’.
Regardless of what you call him, Kaufman was a star that took comedy and performance art to the extremes. He was known for blurring the lines between reality and make-believe – so much so that when he died, a lot people initially assumed that that it was just another stunt—persistent rumors circulated for months suggesting that Kaufman had faked his death as some kind of elaborate hoax.
Kaufman is known to have been a huge Elvis fan. In fact, he would check ahead when touring to see if an Elvis film would be airing on TV in the towns where he was scheduled to make stops. He even packed a television set in his car to make sure that he would be able to see the movies.
Kaufman was also a pretty scent Elvis impersonator. In 1979, Andy appeared on the Johnny Cash Christmas Special and performed “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” in Presley’s signature style. Elvis later reported that Kaufman was one of his favorite impersonators.
Kaufman was diagnosed with a rare and deadly variant of lung cancer called Large Cell Carcinoma in 1983. Since the disease was already in an advanced stage when he was diagnosed, there was no way to slow or stop it’s progression.
Kaufman succumbed to the disease on May 16, 1984, at 35.
Before we discuss a few other celebrities with ties to Elvis that died in tragic ways, take a moment to show us a little support by giving this video a like and subscribing to the Facts Verse channel.
Morrow made his film debut playing a street thug in 1955s Blackboard Jungle. In 1958, he appeared in King Creole, playing a similarly shady character. In that film, Morrow’s Shark lured Elvis Presley’s character Danny Fisher into the seedy crime-filled world of the New Orleans underground. Towards the end of that film, Morrow and Presley’s characters ended up duking it out in a knife fight.
In 1962, Morrow landed his best-known role of Seargent Chip Saunders in the television series Combat! After the show was canceled five years later, Morrow’s career all but fizzled. Most of his acting credits from then on were in B-films and made-for-television movies.
Early in the morning on July 23, 1982, Morrow and two Vietnamese child actors were killed in an accident that happened at a filming location just north of LA during the production of The Twilight Zone: The Movie. Pyrotechnics caused a helicopter to come down in the Santa Clara River where Morrow and the two children were crossing. The copter’s blade decapitated Morrow, and the two children were crushed.
Morrow was 51 years old.
Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson was once quoted as saying that if Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ‘ Roll then Ricky Nelson was the crown prince.
It’s been said that Nelson didn’t even aspire to be rock singer until his girlfriend at the time said that she liked Elvis’s albums.
Nelson’s musical career was launched after performing the song “I’m Walkin” on The Ozzie and Harriet Show in April 1957. Later that year, the 17-year-old budding musician saw Elvis’s infamous show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in LA.
After the show, Nelson was invited to a party at Presley’s private suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The two reportedly spend more than half an hour talking privately in the corner of the suite. While the two stars never met again, they would later share some of the same backup musicians, including James Burton, Scotty Moore, and The Jordanaires.
On New Year’s Eve in 1985, Nelson was flying onboard a private DC-3 aircraft from Alabama to Dallas to perform a concert later that evening when the craft went down in a field near Dekalb, Texas, and erupted In flames.
Nelson and his bandmates were all killed instantaneously. He was 45 years old.
Maxwell is best known for playing Ellie Corbett in Elvis’s 1961 Blue Hawaii.
Memorably in that film, Corbett, who was a bit of a spoiled brat, ended up getting bent over Elvis’s knee and received a spanking.
Maxwell was 19 during the production of Blue Hawaii. By that time, she had already been married and divorced. She also was the mother of a three-year-old boy.
Blue Hawaii proved to be the peak of her acting career, as she only appeared in two more films and a handful of TV shows after that. She officially stepped away from Hollywood in 1963.
In 1976, Maxwell married an attorney named Ervin Roeder. On June 10, 1981, she and her husband were shot to death in an apparent robbery-gone-wrong in the lobby of their Beverly Hills condo. Maxwell was 39 years old.
After being discovered in New York City in 1956, Judy signed with MGM and moved to LA to work in films. Her second movie role was playing Elvis’s leading lady in 1957s Jailhouse Rock.
Sadly, just a few days after filming had wrapped, Tyler and her husband were driving home to New York when they were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle in Wyoming on US Route 30.
Tyler died instantly, while her husband died the following day at a hospital in Laramie. Tyler was 24 years old when she died.
As we mentioned earlier, Nick Adams introduced Elvis to Natalie Wood in 1956. A year prior, Wood’s role opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause had brought her notoriety.
After she and Elvis were photographed together in Memphis and Hollywood, rumors started flying that she and the King were romantically involved.
At 18, Wood brushed off her attraction as being nothing more than a teenage crush. Needless to say, their relationship never went anywhere.
On the 29th of November, 1981, Wood was aboard a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and their mutual friend Christopher Walken when she fell into the ocean and drowned. The circumstances surrounding her death were somewhat suspicious, and for many years it’s been speculated that Wagner may have murdered her.
Wood was 43 years old when she was killed.
Jones was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957 after appearing in The Bachelor. She followed that up with another critically-acclaimed performance in 1958s King Creole, in which she appeared opposite Elvis.
Years later, she landed the role of Morticia Addams on the television comedy The Addams Family. After the show was canceled, Jones struggled to find acting roles for the next decade.
In 1981, Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer. After two years of treatment, she was informed that the disease had progressed to the point of being terminal. Carolyn passed away on August 4, 1983, at the age of 53.
That about wraps up this video, but we’d love to hear from you.
Did you know that Elvis considered Andy Kaufman to be his favorite impersonator and that Vic Morrow died during the filming of The Twilight Zone movie in 1982? Let us know in the comments.
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