46 years ago today Elvis Presley left the building for the final time, dying at the Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 42.
On August 16, 1977, the Rock ‘n Roll legend died of a heart attack while attempting to use the toilet. His final moments were reportedly spent straining as he pushed through a bowel movement, a struggle worsened by his long history of opiate abuse, per PBS.
Though heart failure, more specifically hypertensive heart disease, according to the late crooner’s friend and doctor George Nichopoulos, is listed as his official cause of death, several fans have remained skeptical throughout the decades, refusing to believe the King went out on the throne — or at all, for that matter.
From a cameo in Home Alone to a fake tombstone and his alleged mafia connections, here are some of the craziest conspiracy theories surrounding Elvis’ death.
Out And About … And Starring In Home Alone
In the years since Presley’s passing, several fans have claimed they saw the King out and about in public. Though these locales range from the Memphis International Airport to visiting Muhammed Ali in the hospital and Legoland’s opening day in 1999, Presley’s most notable alleged posthumous sighting came in the background of every millennial’s favorite Christmas movie — Home Alone.
According to believers, Presley can be spotted roughly halfway through the film, standing in line for the ticket counter as actress Catherine O'Hara attempts to reason with an employee at the Scranton airport.
Hiding From The Mafia
So why would Presley fake his own death? To escape the Mafia, according to author Gail Brewer-Giorgio. In her 1998 book Is Elvis Alive? The writer cited thousands of FBI documents in arguing that the King joined the witness protection program after going undercover to help the government break up an organized crime ring known as a “The Fraternity.”
“Do I know if Elvis is alive today? No, I don’t know. But I know he didn’t die on Aug. 16,” she told Time.
And if Presley hadn’t allegedly faked his death? “He was going to be killed and there was no doubt about it,” she stated.
The final nail in the coffin surrounding the theory that Elvis faked his own death comes in the form of his tombstone itself. Though Presley’s resting place at Graceland is a sight to behold, some eagle-eyed fans have questioned whether the spelling of his middle name — Aaron rather than Aron, which several consider the “correct” means of writing the name — may offer a hint the artist wasn’t actually dead.
Yet as we should note, the question of whether Presley’s middle name is spelled with one or two A’s has long been up for debate.
“The King's middle name was in honor of his father's friend Aaron Kennedy, but the Presleys used the Aron spelling to match the middle name of Elvis' stillborn identical-twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley,” explained Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Jacob, noting that the singer’s official website approves either spelling of his secondary moniker.
Lived as His Own Impersonator
However, not everyone is convinced that Elvis lives. According to one theory, Presley didn’t die on that fateful day in 1977 — he simply started a new life masquerading as Johnny Harra, a well-known Elvis impersonator, until his death in 2011.
With this foolproof alibi, Presley could live as a normal person.
“Elvis could finally walk around in public, as himself, and not be mobbed,” they continued, noting that Presley performed as Johnny at “many weddings & other events.”
“The people had no idea he was the real deal. And Elvis loved every minute of it,” they added. “Above all else, Elvis loved making people happy. Once, he came in third place in an Elvis look-alike contest.”
Harra — or Presley, to believers of this theory – passed away in 2011 at the age of 64.