Colonel Parker made Elvis great and kept him small

Colonel Tom Parker was really there. The man in the movie Elvis Tom Hanks played Elvis Presley’s manager – the man who took pride in making Elvis great.

His name wasn’t Parker and he wasn’t a colonel. In fact his name was Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk and he is from Breda. But he did not like to talk about his past. For him it was mainly about his position in power and the millions associated with it that he had amassed. Without him, Elvis would never have become a world star, he claimed. They could take on the world together as long as Elvis did everything Parker asked him to do. Or better: commissioned.

Truthfully or less, Parker is portrayed in the film as the manager who, through extreme deception and cunning marketing tactics, determined the career of his student – from a nascent rock idol to entertainment for all ages. There have been a lot of movies and TV series about Presley’s life and work, but they generally didn’t pay much attention to the dominant role of Parker, while they were still the man who obeyed Elvis. Parker always got what he wanted. Everything happened as planned. Elvis Presley answered every question he was asked: “That’s what the Colonel is about.”

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Dries Van Koek Must Have Been a Notorious Absentee When He Was Young, According to Extensive Biography Elvis and the colonel Published by Brabant journalist Dirk Velinga in 1988. He preferred to hang out at fairs and circuses that appeared repeatedly in Breda before the war. According to Vilinga, what should have struck him above all was the combination of show and business – the tricks of galleries and circus operators to entice their audience to spend more. In this regard, he has always remained the same: the man who filled the box office at Elvis concerts by selling glossy photos of his star.

Show and business

No wonder Van Kuijk wanted to go to America when he was twenty: no place for show and work was so closely connected as there. Vilinga suspects that in 1929, as a stowaway, he sailed to Curacao and boarded a smuggling ship bound for America. Not much is known about his later years. Working in theme parks, fairgrounds, and traveling circuses, he became adept at mixing and swishing behind the scenes, and also introduced himself as a kind of entertainer. Among his attractions were Colonel Tom Parker and his dancing chickens. It consisted of chickens that began to jump frantically when the colonel laid it on a layer of sawdust. What the audience didn’t see was the hot metal plate under that sawdust.

In the early fifties, the pseudo-colonel slowly but surely transformed his field of activity into a more profitable circle: managing artists of some name and fame. Taking care of bookings for famous country singers like Eddie Arnold and Hank Snow, his reputation as a successful showman grew. Through Snow, he communicated with firstborn Elvis Presley around 1955. It is unclear if he was interested in this young man’s innovative rock ‘n’ roll. What worries Parker the most is the hysterical screaming from the girls who have fainted because of their idol. What he saw was a new target audience that he could make money from.

holding the mask

Thus began an alliance that lasted until Presley’s death in 1977. Parker received up to 50 percent of all that Presley earned. He preferred to turn it around himself. When a reporter inquired, Parker replied, according to the site History too late: “Elvis gets 50 percent of everything I earn.”

Gag contracts have always been in the show business — and beyond — but rarely have they been as extreme as the relationship between Tom Parker and Elvis Presley. The children were also taken care of. For example, in 1961, Parker shot the movie Blue Hawaii When Presley’s own watch appeared on the show. “The contract states that Elvis does not bring his own clothes,” Parker said. “If you want that watch in the picture, you have to pay us another $25,000.” The story does not mention whether the man’s request was granted. But it was typical.

And it wasn’t just about money. Vilinga also revealed in his autobiography why Elvis Presley has never performed outside the United States. The director himself claimed that it was impossible for him to guarantee the safety of his artist outside of American borders. Not the real reason. What was really standing in his way was the fact that he did not have a passport and could not have traveled on such an international tour. For a man who did not want to lose sight of his star for a moment, that was an insurmountable obstacle. Meanwhile, Presley himself was willingly hired for one bad movie after another — seriously damaging his reputation as a reliable rocker. And when he approached him shortly before his death, he starred opposite Barbra Streisand in a new movie adapted from A star is born, Parker was again the obstacle. It was believed that Elvis was too famous for another star.

After Presley’s death, their grandchildren were able to have the contracts with Parker rescinded through the courts because they were deemed unfair. Unfortunately, the unemployed manager threw himself into a gambling addiction. And when he died in 1997, the obituary had nothing good to say about him. He made Elvis Presley great, but also kept him young.

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