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The hilarious prank Linda Thompson played on excited Elvis fans

Linda Thompson, born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1950, rose to prominence in the early 1970s thanks to her striking good looks. After winning a series of beauty pageants, including the coveted Miss Tennessee in ’72, it was only a matter of time before she fell into the orbit of rock ‘n’ roll’s finest, Elvis Presley.

In July 1972, a 22-year-old Thompson was invited to a private movie screening hosted by Elvis at the Memphian Theater in Memphis. The two hit it off immediately and entered a relationship that would last four years before the eventual break-up in 1976. 

Like Priscilla Presley before her, Thompson broke up with Elvis because she was struggling with the level of exposure encountered on the arm of such a prominent figure in pop culture. As the pair parted ways, Thompson explained that she wanted a “normal” life but remained a close friend of Elvis’ until his death the following year.

While Elvis and Thompson were dating, one of their favourite pastimes was a private trip to the theatre, given their shared passion for acting and the sentimental nature of their first date. In a 2006 interview with Larry King, Thompson shared her clever technique for crowd pacification. 

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King asked Thompson if Elvis could get away with attending a normal theatre screening, to which she replied, “Oh, no. He could never go to a regular movie. So he rented the Memphian Theater out after closing hours, and they would screen new movies.”

Continuing, she explained her cunning crowd control method: “There was one time were walking into the Memphian Theater, and he was slightly ahead of me, and someone came up to him and said, ‘Oh my God, look, it’s Elvis. You’re Elvis aren’t you?’ He said, ‘Well, yes, I am Elvis’ and they went crazy. They wanted an autograph and a picture. 

“As I walked up I said, ‘Charlie, you’re not using that Elvis bit again are you? Come on, you’re not telling these people that you’re Elvis again, are you?’ I told the fans, ‘He gets it all the time, and he’s always messing with people’. The fans said, ‘We knew you couldn’t really be Elvis’ and he replied, ‘But I am, tell ’em honey!’ I replied’, Come on, Charlie, we’re late.’”

Listen to Elvis Presley, and Linda Thompson sing ‘Your Life Has Just Begun’ below.