Elvis/The Colonel

Dirk Vellenga, Author Delacorte Press $17.95 (278p) ISBN 978-0-385-29521-5
Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker were associated in the public mind like Laurel and Hardy, although a more accurate pairing would have been Svengali and Trilby, as the authors demonstrate. Intriguingly, the colonel, who projected an image as American as apple pie, was foreign - born (in 1909): a Dutchman named Andreas van Kuijk, he served in the U.S. peacetime army but never became a citizen. He entered the U.S. illegally and as a young man worked in carnivals, where he learned to be a con man par excellence, according to the authors. It was his talent as an operator that led him to become the personal manager of Eddy Arnold, then Hank Snow and finally Elvis. While the authors do not attempt a psychobiography, they argue forcefully that Parker's carnival background made him a conniving money-grubber who eventually destroyed Presley's career. The singer himself does not emerge here as a hero, but he does seem more to be pitied than censured. Vellenga is a Dutch journalist; Farren, an American, is a freelance writer. (August)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-440-20392-6
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