Celebrities with Connections to Elvis Who Died in 2015

Donna Douglas:

Elvis and Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Donna Douglas passed away on January 1, 2015 at the age of 82. Most of the memorials to her reference her role as Elly May Clampett on the TV show  The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971).

Donna Douglas in the Beverly Hillbillies

However, we Elvis fans remember Donna Douglas for her role as Frankie in the movie Frankie and Johnny. During the 1966 summer hiatus of The Beverly Hillbillies, she made the movie with Elvis. It was her only starring feature film appearance.

Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, Nancy Kovack in-Frankie and Johnny

Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, and Nancy Kovack in Frankie and Johnny


B. B. King:

Elvis and BB King

B. B. King passed away on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. There are photos that show him and Elvis together on two different occasions. The photo below of Elvis, Claudia Ivy, and B.B. King was taken at the WDIA (Memphis radio station) Goodwill Review on December 7, 1956. Elvis and George Klein hung out backstage. Elvis made a brief emergence from behind the curtain, and received rousing applause from the audience.

Elvis, Claudia Ivy and BB King

Here’s a great quote from B.B. King about Elvis: “I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun Studio. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra’s. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness.”

To read other quotes from B.B. King about Elvis, click here to read a May 2015 ElvisBlog article posted a few days after the blues master’s death.


Kirk Kerkorian:

Elvis and Kirk Kerkorian Signing Contract at International Hotel

Elvis and Kirk Kerkorian Signing Contract at International Hotel

Kirk Kerkorian died on June 15, 2015 at the age of 98. He was a very successful businessman, investor, and developer. In 1969, he opened the largest hotel in Las Vegas at the time, the International Hotel. Barbara Streisand was the first entertainer he signed to perform in the hotel’s showroom. But he signed Elvis to be the second act, and Elvis set a new Las Vegas record by bringing in 4,200 people a day for 30 straight days.


Jerry Weintraub:

Jerry Weintraub

Jerry Weintraub died on July 6, 2015 at the age of 77 after a hugely successful career as a talent agent, concert promoter, and film producer He may not be a familiar name to many Elvis fans, but he had a significant role in Elvis’ career. In 1970, after Elvis had returned to live performances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Jerry Weintraub convinced Elvis and Col. Parker that Elvis should take his show on the road and do concerts in 18-25,000 seat venues. It was a bold move at that time, and Weintraub had to come up with a $1 million cashier’s check to convince Col. Parker to close the deal. From that point on, the three men made a lot of money together.


Yvonne Craig:

Elvis and Yvonne Craig in Kissin' Cousins

Yvonne Craig died on August 17, 2015 at the age of 78. Like Donna Douglas she was more noted for her acting career on TV than for her parts in Elvis’ movies.

Yvonne Craig in Star Trek

In a Star Trek episode in 1967, “Whom Gods Destroy,” Yvonne Craig played Marta, a green-skinned inmate at the Federation asylum on Elba ll. She was delusional, seductive and skilled in exotic dance. The evil Garth of Izar coerced her to carry out a plot to assassinate Captain Kirk.

Yvone Craig as Batgirl

Her biggest TV success was in the role of Batgirl in the 1967 season of the Batman.

Yvonne and Elvis in Kissin' Cousins

Regular readers of ElvisBlog know that Yvonne Craig is my favorite Elvis co-star. Here she is as Azalea Tatum in Kissin’ Cousins.

Elvis and Yvonne Craig in It Happened at the World's Fair

But it is this scene from It Happened at the World’s Fair that I could watch over and over. Craig’s part is small, but she makes the most of it. Elvis is all over her trying to score, but she wiggles away somehow. Very hot scene.

To read more ElvisBlog articles on Yvonne Craig, click here and here.


Dean Jones:

Dean Jones, Elvis and Judy Tyler in Jailhouse Rock

Dean Jones died on September 1, 2015 at the age of 77. He had a successful movie career, especially while working in Walt Disney films for thirteen years. He co-stared with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, playing disc jockey Teddy Talbot. In addition to helping Elvis’ character Vince Edwards’ singing career, Jones also served as another suitor for Judy Tyler that gave Elvis a little competition.


Fred Thompson:

Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson died on November 1, 2015 at the age of 73. He is well know as an actor, Senator, and Presidential candidate. What isn’t well know is that he is kin to Elvis Presley.

Specifically, they are eighth cousins once removed, according to research by Washington genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner. Thompson’s late father, Fletcher Thompson, and Elvis shared a set of great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, Jasper Hood and Tryntje Andries. For what it’s worth, Elvis is Jimmy Carter, sixth cousin once removed.


George Barris:

Elvis and George Barris

George Barris died on November 5, 2015 at the age of 90. While Elvis was the King of Rock, Barris was the king of customizes cars.

SeptembSept 2010 George Barris poses next to a 1966 Batmobile

George Barris in 2010 with the Batmobile he designed for the TV show

Perhaps you are familiar with Elvis’ customized Cadillac that toured all over Australia in 1968. It has an interesting story. Elvis wanted to have his own classic-styled luxury limousine, so he bought a 1960 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood for $10,000, and he took it to Barris Kustom City in North Hollywood, California.

Elvis told Barris what features he wanted, and Barris gave him many designs, artist renderings and engineering drawings before the modifications were decided. The price tag was $65,000, which is $487,000 in today’s dollars.

Elvis' Gold Cadillac on Display in Australia

It is not recorded just how much Elvis used his dream car, but souvenir-seeking fans caused enough damage to the car that he ultimately stopped using it. He sold it to RCA who used it for promotional purposes across the country from 1965 to 1967. Next, the car was shipped to Australia for a tour to raise money for the Benevolent Society of New South Wales. It made almost four-dozen stops and was viewed by almost 400,000 people.

Interior of Elvis' Gold Cadillac Designed by George Barris

This is one of six photos showing the innovative touches George Barris gave Elvis’ Gold Cadillac. Click here to see them all and read more about the story.


Happy New Year, Everybody



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7 responses to “Celebrities with Connections to Elvis Who Died in 2015

  1. Pingback: 50th Anniversary Elvis Movie Pictorial – Frankie and Johnny | ElvisBlog

  2. Pingback: The Fourth and Final Era of Elvis Presley | Pompadour

  3. Actor Dean Jones was born on January 25, 1931. He died on September 1st, 2015 at the age of 84.

  4. What an incredible list. I had missed the announcement of Dean Jones’ death. He played a significant part in my childhood movie experiences.

  5. Beverly Golden Cuevas

    I was a Stewardess for AA and had Elvis on my flight in 1968. We had a definite connection. Years later he showed up at my hotel in Memphis. I stayed in touch with him until his passing. I have written a book, NO…. not about Elvis but about my life growing up poor in WVA and becoming a Stewardess. I want to include two chapters about Elvis and of course I want to get permission. But I don’t know who to talk to about this. I tried calling a lady in NY who supposedly works for Elvis Presley Enterprises and have left numerous messages asking her to call me. She hasn’t. Do you know of someone I might speak to in order to see if they will grant me permission to add these chapters. I hope to have the book out in February but the publisher will not allow me to include those chapters unless I get an Ok. Please help.

    • Hi Beverly. The best thing I can think of is to go to www’Graceland.com and go to Contact Us. All you can do is send an email, but maybe someone will respond. I really don’t know why your publisher would have a problem with you telling your own life story even if it does include connections with Elvis

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  6. Great facts & info, as always! Happy & Healthy New Year to you and yours, Phil! I must mention that I have also read that Elvis’s paternal Grandfather Jessie D McDowell Presley, ( the only child of Rosella Presley given the name McDowell & one of nine children born out of wedlock) They were all given the surname Presley from their mother’s side. None of the children knew who their father was, but I read in a book about Elvis, that (McDowell) was actually the father of Jessie Presley, Elvis Presley’s Paternal Grandfather. Seems no other reason to give him that name, as no other of the nine children had the name. In that book, it was claimed that through this ‘McDowell’ connection, ( I believe the person’s ancestor in common with Lincoln, was a ‘William McDowell’, though my memory is questionable, this man was a great grandfather of Abe Lincoln) Elvis would share a Great Grandfather back to Abraham Lincoln. Just wondered if you had ever heard of this. It has never been mentioned again that I know of, though. Food for thought! TCB! Clementine

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