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The Real Reason Elvis Presley Didn't Star In Bye Bye Birdie

Elvis Presley may likely go down in history as one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. He produced dozens of albums and starred in over 30 different feature films. He was drafted into the military and served for two years, but tragically died of a drug overdose in 1977 at the age of 42. Fans were so upset by his devastating and unexpected passing that many to this day still believe that Elvis faked his own death and is still alive somewhere.

Although the superstar did play the lead actor in so many big Hollywood productions, there were even more films made about him and his career in which he did not participate. One of the most famous ones, a musical called "Bye Bye Birdie," started out as a Broadway show and eventually made it to the silver screen. It was a huge hit, and whether anybody wanted to admit it out loud or not, it was largely based on the cultural reaction to Elvis Presley getting drafted into the US Military. In fact, it was so closely and obviously based on Presley's life that he was tapped to play the role of Conrad Birdie. Sadly, that didn't happen, and audiences have one person in particular to thank (or, rather, blame) for that.

Elvis fans can blame his manager for this epic mistake

According to this featurette from Parade, it was Elvis's manager who poo-pooed on the idea of Elvis playing himself in the feature film. Reportedly, "his manager nixed the idea because it would have been self-parody." Of course, that would have been exactly the point of casting Elvis in that role, but why would anyone think that self parody is a bad thing? Is it because they're too full of themselves to take a step back and crack a joke at their own expense? Maybe stuffy killjoys from the 1960s would have a problem with something like that, but that is certainly not the case today.

As a matter of fact, there are several productions which have come out in recent years that were quite successful despite being – or, perhaps, due to – the amount of self-parody inherent in the script. "This Is the End" is by far one of the most famous self-parody movies in recent years, scoring a 71% approval rating with audiences and an 83% approval rating from critics according to Rotten Tomatoes. That's just one example of many. Although "Bye Bye Birdie" is a classic hit that stands strongly enough on its own, we think it's safe to say that some Elvis fans out there wish his manager would have reconsidered.