1/21/97 Elvis' Manager 'Colonel' Tom Parker, dies at 87
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 97 13:31:32 -0800
Subject: 1/21/97 Elvis' Manager 'Colonel' Tom Parker, dies at 87
Forwarded-by: chuck@NYC.Thinkbank.COM (Chuck Ocheret)
LAS VEGAS (Reuter) - ``Colonel'' Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager
for 22 years, died of a stroke on Tuesday, a friend said. He was 87. Parker
died at the Valley Hospital in Las Vegas, where he had been admitted on
Monday, said Bruce Banke, a close friend of Parker. Parker, a carnival
worker in his early years, managed Presley's career from 1955 until his death
in 1977, guiding the singer from obscurity to worldwide fame as a rock 'n'
roll idol and movie star. The ``Colonel'' was an honorary title. ``He was
the world's greatest manager in my estimation. He took a boy singer from the
streets of Memphis (Tennessee) and made him into one of the world's greatest
superstars,'' said Banke, retired publicist for the Las Vegas Hilton. ``He
knew exactly how to market Elvis,'' said Banke, who got to know both Parker
and Presley when the singer performed at the Las Vegas Hilton. Presley
recorded a string of hit records and his legend has grown since his death at
the age of 42. Banke said Parker was loyal and would not manage other
stars. He and Presley were partners, Banke said. ``It was more of a
father-son relationship than star-manager,'' he added. Parker told Variety
in 1994 that he had had lots of offers to write books about Presley but had
turned them all down. ``You know what they want -- dirt,'' Parker said.
``I'm not a dirt farmer.'' Parker worked in carnivals before beginning to
manage singers in the 1940s, eventually signing the young Presley. Some
accounts have portrayed Presley and Parker as having had a stormy
relationship and suggested that Parker managed the star's life with an iron
A 1994 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Elvis purists
viewed Parker as ``the devil who traded the singer's rock 'n' roll soul for
the demon Hollywood dollar.'' But it said Presley was quoted by a biographer
as saying: ``We more or less picked each other.'' Dick Clark, executive
producer of a television movie about Presley and Parker, told the Los Angeles
Times in 1993 that, in the early years, Parker received 25 percent of
Presley's income. In 1967, he increased his take to 50 percent, he said.
Clark said he believed Presley and Parker had a love-hate relationship.
Little is known about Parker's early life. The 1993 edition of the
Almanac of Famous People lists Parker as probably born in 1910 in Breda, the
Netherlands, and lists a variant of his name as Andreas Cornelius Van Kuijk.
Movie star Ann Margret, who starred with Presley in ``Viva Las Vegas!'',
issued a statement saying she was sad at Parker's death and would miss him
very much. ``He has been a part of my life since I was very young and from
that time he had always shown me kindness and support,'' she said.
Parker is survived by his wife, Loanne.
© 1997 Peter Langston