The Elvis Rumor That "Disturbed" Lisa Marie, Friend Says

A director who collaborated with the King shared the gossip that most upset his daughter.

When you're a star as big as Elvis Presley, rumors abound. And one particularly hurtful rumor started only after his death. In a new interview, Steve Binder, who directed the musician's '68 Comeback Special, opened up about his relationship with the Presley family, including Elvis' daughter, the recently deceased Lisa Marie Presley. While the director said that he did not see the King's wife Priscilla Presley or newborn Lisa Marie during the months spent filming the special, he did talk about the gossip that "disturbed" Lisa Marie and prompted him to call him many years later, when she was an adult. Read on to find out why she reached out to him and the advice Binder gave her about her famous father.

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Elvis died in 1977.

Elvis Presley performing in Milwaukee in 1977
Ronald C. Modra/ Getty Images

Elvis died at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee on Aug. 16, 1977. As reported by The New York Times in October 1977, medical examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco wrote in an autopsy report, "The cause of death has been ascribed to hypertensive heart disease, with coronary artery heart disease as a contributing factor."

Multiple prescription drugs were found in Elvis' system, but Francisco wrote that "there is no evidence the medication present in the body of Elvis Presley caused or made any significant contribution to his death."

In the years since, his autopsy was reopened, and other experts have come to differing conclusions about the role of drugs in his death. There is also ongoing speculation about what led to his heart attack.

Conspiracy theories that Elvis was still alive gained traction.

Elvis Presley's grave photographed in 2009
Dietmar Rauscher / Shutterstock

Following Elvis' death, conspiracy theories began to circulate that he hadn't died at all. One of the more popular theories was that Elvis had been involved in FBI investigations into the mob, faked his death, and went into witness protection. Additionally, some people have claimed that they've seen Elvis out in public, alive and well. There's also a theory tied to his middle name being spelled "Aaron" on his gravestone, even though it was originally spelled "Aron." Some believe that this is evidence of his family not wanting to put his true name on the grave since he wasn't actually dead. As reported by Time, experts say that Elvis had changed the way he spelled his middle name during his lifetime.

"All of the evidence points to a death—the medical evidence, the eyewitness report," Patrick Lacy, the author of Elvis Decoded told Time of the conspiracies. "To have him have faked his death would have required the silence and the services of literally hundreds if not thousands of people over the years."

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An interview with Lisa Marie also contributed to the rumor.

Lisa Marie Presley at the premiere of "Windtalkers" in 2002
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

As reported by Time, a 2003 interview Lisa Marie did with Larry King provided fuel for the conspiracies due to the way she answered a question.

King said, "Do you ever feel communication with your father? Do you ever feel the channeling? Some people claim that they feel their father or their mother departed around them."

Lisa Marie responded, "I don't know. We're getting into a hairy, controversial field here, and I'd rather…" King pressed her, and she said that she'd rather not answer the question.

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Binder said Lisa Marie called him distressed about the rumors.

Steve Binder and Tom Hanks at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival
Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Binder, now 90, told Yahoo! in a recent interview that, though he worked with Elvis through months of production that his first encounter with Lisa Marie happened many years after her father had died. ("Elvis had rented a home for Priscilla and the baby in Beverly Hills, and didn't want to waste time traveling back and forth," he explained as to why Elvis' family weren't around during filming.) In 1977, when Elvis passed, Lisa Marie was nine years old. Binder said that she called him decades later about the conspiracies.

"Lisa called me up one day and said she was very disturbed with all these rumors going around that Elvis may still be alive," Binder said. "This was when she was still married to Michael Jackson. She wanted to take on the press, but I advised her not to do that. I said, 'That's what they want you to do. Just let it happen and it'll eventually burn out.' Which it did."

Lisa Marie honored her father before she died.

Lisa Marie Presley at the TCL Chinese Theatre in 2022
Joe Seer / Shutterstock

While Lisa Marie did not end up taking on the press when it came to the rumors and conspiracy theories about her dad, she did speak publicly about him and his legacy. Prior to her death earlier this year, she had most recently talked about him in the context of the award-winning 2022 biopic Elvis, of which she was supportive.

"I'm so overwhelmed by this film and the effect that it's had and what [director] Baz [Luhrmann] has done, what [star] Austin [Butler] has done," Lisa Marie said at a Golden Globes pre-party, as reported by People. "I'm so proud. And I know that my father would also be very proud."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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