Was Elvis Presley almost a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)?
Did an archived Book of Mormon in the Church History Building once belong to the king of rock 'n' roll?
A Book of Mormon — possibly Elvis Presley's personal copy, reputed to have been in his room when he died — is contained in the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And, a 2007 movie, "Tears of A King: The Latter-Days of Elvis Presley, The King of Rock N Roll meets The King of Kings," was.filmed in Utah and was inspired by that archived Book of Mormon and the story behind it.
The background story goes like this:
A Book of Mormon similar to what Elvis may have had.
The Book of Mormon was given to the LDS Church by members of the Osmond family, who received it from a woman named Cricket Butler. Butler, a friend of Elvis, gave the Book of Mormon to him in the months preceding his death. The book was subsequently returned to Butler by Elvis' father, Vernon, two days after Elvis' death.
"It is well known that Elvis Presley was a devout Christian who had deep religious convictions despite his personal weaknesses and struggles with a Hollywood lifestyle that was thrust upon him at an early age," Robert Starling, associate producer of "The Tears of A King movie" stated back in 2006. "What is lesser known is that he reportedly met on several occasions with missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that he studied carefully the Book of Mormon."
The movie crew videotaped an interview with Bobby Kauo, who gave the LDS Church missionary discussions to Elvis when Presley was in Hawaii to film "Paradise Hawaiian Style."
Genuine or fake?
Ken Sanders, who owns Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City, said back in 2006 the Elvis book could easily be worth $5,000 to $10,000, if it is indeed authentic. That's pretty good for a soft-cover Book of Mormon of that period, generally worth $5 to $6.
He said $100,000 is the most any early Book of Mormon has been worth to date. However, Sanders said he remains skeptical the book was truly Elvis'.
"All my initial instincts are it's a forgery," he said, after examining four pictures showing pages from the book.
Sanders' philosophy is a book is a fake until proven genuine.
Grant A. Anderson, church history specialist in the LDS Archives, confirmed in 2006 that the archives do have a book reputed to be Elvis Presley's, a 1976 edition common in its day.
"All we know is what has been told to us," Anderson said. He stressed that the book's history of transfer looks consistent and logical, but the church has conducted no handwriting tests on it.
Anderson said the church has copies of early Book of Mormon editions, but it is not common to have celebrity-owned copies like this.
Alan Osmond told the Deseret News in an e-mail back in 2006 that he did receive the Elvis Book of Mormon from Cricket Butler.
"I interviewed her on cassette tape, had her sign a letter of authenticity and saw pictures of her with Elvis. She said Elvis had talked about the Osmonds and would have wanted us to have it. We had a private barbecue scheduled by Elvis at his house a couple of weeks after he died. We also knew him, met him, conversed with him and have had personal conversations with him."
Regarding the Book of Mormon's transfer to the church, Osmond said: "I did give the book to the LDS Church via my wife's cousin, Elder Rex Pinegar (now an emeritus member of the Seventy). This was for safety's sake, to protect Elvis' privacy, and to preserve the sacredness of this book! Several people that knew I had it were too anxious to see it and touch it. So I put it in a very safe place — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (archives)."
(Alan's brother, Donny Osmond, told the Deseret News during a 2010 interview that he had personally inspected the "Elvis Book of Mormon" and also believed it to be genuine.)
Former Salt Lake City police forensics expert George Throckmorton said he understands there may actually be two separate "Elvis Books of Mormon" out there.
Elvis may have also received a Book of Mormon from the late Ed Parker, who was his karate instructor and bodyguard.
-So, the jury may always be out on this, but it is intriguing nevertheless.
(-Expanded/Updated from a Deseret News Article on Oct. 2, 2006 by Lynn Arave.)