Who’s to Blame When Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand Turned Down the Role of Starring in “A Star Is Born”?

Elvis Presley Turned Down Starring in ‘A Star Is Born’ Alongside Barbra Streisand: Who’s to Blame?

Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand: two icons of their respective fields, each with a legion of devoted fans and a string of successes to their names. It’s hard to imagine what might have been had these two powerhouse performers joined forces on the silver screen. Yet, the opportunity almost came to fruition in the 1970s with the remake of “A Star Is Born.” However, Elvis Presley turned down the role, leaving many to wonder: who’s to blame for this missed opportunity?

The story of “A Star Is Born” is one of Hollywood legend, revolving around the rise of a young, talented ingenue and the fall of an established but troubled star. Originally released in 1937 and subsequently remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and in 1976 with Barbra Streisand, the film explores themes of fame, love, and sacrifice against the backdrop of the entertainment industry.

In the early 1970s, plans were in motion for yet another remake of “A Star Is Born,” with Streisand attached to star in the lead role. However, finding the right actor to play opposite her proved to be a challenge. Enter Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself, who was approached for the role of John Norman Howard, the fading star who discovers and mentors the film’s young protagonist.

Presley, at the height of his fame but grappling with personal and professional challenges, was initially intrigued by the project. The prospect of sharing the screen with Streisand, one of the most acclaimed actresses of her generation, was undoubtedly enticing. However, as negotiations progressed, Presley ultimately decided to pass on the role, citing concerns over the script and the direction of the film.

So, who’s to blame for Presley’s decision to turn down “A Star Is Born”? Some point to Presley himself, suggesting that his hesitance to take on a dramatic role in a high-profile film reflected a lack of confidence in his acting abilities. Despite his success in musicals such as “Jailhouse Rock” and “Viva Las Vegas,” Presley may have felt out of his depth tackling a role with such emotional depth and complexity.

Others place the blame on Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, whose notoriously tight control over Presley’s career often prioritized financial gain over artistic opportunities. Parker, wary of Presley’s image and the potential impact on his concert ticket sales, may have advised his client to steer clear of projects that could risk alienating his fan base.

There are also those who point to external factors beyond Presley’s control, such as the state of his health and personal life at the time. By the early 1970s, Presley’s health was in decline, exacerbated by his well-documented struggles with prescription drug abuse. Additionally, his marriage to Priscilla Presley was crumbling under the strain of his demanding career and constant media scrutiny.

Regardless of the reasons behind Presley’s decision, the role of John Norman Howard ultimately went to Kris Kristofferson, marking the beginning of a successful acting career for the singer-songwriter. The 1976 version of “A Star Is Born” went on to achieve critical and commercial success, earning Streisand an Academy Award for Best Original Song and solidifying her status as a powerhouse talent in both music and film.

As for Presley, the missed opportunity to star alongside Streisand in “A Star Is Born” remains a tantalizing “what-if” moment in his storied career. While he continued to make films throughout the 1970s, including “Elvis on Tour” and “That’s the Way It Is,” he never fully realized his potential as a dramatic actor, leaving fans to speculate about the roles he might have played and the performances he might have delivered.

In the end, the question of who’s to blame for Elvis Presley turning down “A Star Is Born” alongside Barbra Streisand may never have a definitive answer. Perhaps it was a combination of factors, from Presley’s own reservations to the influence of those around him, that led to the decision. Regardless, the legacy of both Presley and Streisand endures, leaving fans to marvel at what might have been while celebrating the extraordinary talents they shared with the world.


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