The First Elvis Impersonator?

Ninety-four Elvis collectible items will be up for sale on December 14 at the Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction presented by Heritage Auctioneers.  I love looking through the items on their website, because many provide the spark for an ElvisBlog article.

Like this Loving You four-song EP signed twice on the back by Elvis.

It’s difficult to see, but both autographs say, “To Buddy, Elvis Presley.”  There were other items in this auction lot, including this old photo:

The young man with Elvis is eighteen-year-old Buddy Ochoa.  The photo was taken in 1958 in Killeen, Texas, home of Ft Hood where Elvis took his Army basic training.  According to a post on the “For Elvis CD Collectors” website, he was a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he was on the cheerleading squad.

The thing that really caught my eye was in the Auction’s description of the items in the lot.  It said,

“Buddy Ochoa, the original Elvis tribute artist, became friends with the legend in 1958 after Elvis learned of Buddy’s inaugural performance as ‘Elvis’ in Dallas.”

Biography information on the internet indicates Buddy Ochoa first performed as Elvis at the SMU Cheer Camp.  Back in those days, you didn’t need a black leather suit or fancy jumpsuit to impersonate Elvis.  Just put on a sport coat, comb your hair the right way, and start to sing.

So, what happened to Buddy Ochoa, the original Elvis tribute artist?  There is no information that he continued to do Elvis tribute after graduating from college and moving to Los Angeles.  Apparently he found part-time work in commercials for products like Winston cigarettes and Harley motorcycles.  In 1963, he had a bit part as “The Bellboy” in an episode of the TV show Perry Mason.  Between 1973 and 1977, he had bit parts in twelve movies and TV shows.


Here is Buddy Ochoa in his role as “The Courier” in the Phony Express episode of the TV series Dusty’s Trail.  The show’s synopsis indicates it was a fairly meaty role:

“Dusty meets a wounded soldier who locks a courier pouch on his arm with instructions to guard it with his life, deliver it to Fort Hale, and keep it out of the hands of an outlaw named Bates.”


It seems Buddy Ochoa’s other significant role was as “A Television Assistant” in the 1974 TV movie The Missiles of October.


After his movie career, he worked in the advertising business in Los Angeles, rising to Media Coordinator at Admarketing.

Buddy Ochoa in Las Vegas in 2010

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved



Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


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