Elvis lives on forever after his death in the form of impersonation. Elvis impersonators can be found around the country, but the desire to resurrect the King of the Rock and Roll also occasionally makes it to the big time. Although not Elvis impersonators in either the technical nor pop cultural sense of the word, some very big name stars in TV history have taken a shot at capturing what was special about Elvis within them. Except for, as Mojo Nixon tell us, the anti-Elvis: Michael J. Fox.
The Golden Girls
Perhaps the most infamous Elvis impersonation in TV history to at least one generation of Elvis fans or non-fans alike would be one of many who showed up on a wedding of “The Golden Girls.” This particular instance of Elvis impersonation in TV history could have gone on indefinitely until the end of the time without ever being mentioned were it not for the fact that one of the impersonators–look for him sitting in the back row, dead center–happened to be future Oscar-winner Quentin Tarantino. I kid you now.
David Rasche’s short-lived parody of Clint Eastwood-style fascist cops forced him onto the stage in one episode in full Las Vegas-era Elvis regalia. This Elvis impersonation was all in the service of good TV. For reasons that escape me and are not important to the topic, Sledge had to impersonate Presley in order to catch his man. Needless to say, few who watched “Sledge Hammer” that night remember the crime at hand, but most will remember the Elvis performance. Which was not one of the all-time greats, it must be said. But it is a memorable Elvis impersonation precisely because the King was used to catch a crook. And any good Elvis fan knows that he had a major obsession with dreams of being some sort of cop.
You can consider yourself having watched an Elvis impersonation every time you catch the cartoon “Johnny Bravo.” Johnny may not be much of an Elvis singer, but his everyday discourse is soaked in deep fried Elvis.
Elvis is said to have enjoyed the impersonation of him done by Andy Kaufman more than any other he ever saw. It was always a masterpiece of the comedy of expectation to watch Kaufman do his Elvis. He would come onto the stage in his Foreign Man persona and start the buildup to Elvis by doing really bad impressions of people like Archie Bunker. He didn’t sound like Archie Bunker and he didn’t even use quotes associated with Archie Bunker. When this funny looking guy with the strange accent would then announce he was going to do Elvis Presley next, the expectation was that it would in the same vein as Archie Bunker. But that would before he transformed the clothing he was already wearing into an Elvis Presley performance outfit. And then the music would start and then that would really be Andy Kaufman singing like Elvis. Not a lip-sync to Elvis or to some other pre-recorded Elvis impersonator. Andy had the King down. Solid.
Three Elvis impersonators for the price of watching one episode of “Castle.” Rick Castle and his male homicide department detective partners wind up at a casino in Atlantic City that just so happens to holding an Elvis impersonator convention. What better way to get back into a casino from which they have been tossed out in order to continue their investigation of a crime involving the casino’s owner than by dressing up in Elvis Presley concert costumes?