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June 26, 2022



Elvis was the gipsy King, says traveller magazine

London, 11.7.2008 13:45, (Daily mail)

It was designed to dispel myths about the travelling community.

But a magazine which claims that Elvis was a gipsy is simply peddling more, critics say.

The journal, which cost taxpayers up to £70,000, was produced by organisers of the Government backed gipsy history month and sent to schools.

It says that Elvis Presley was descended from German gipsies who emigrated to the U.S. in the early 18th century, pointing out that his mother's maiden name was Smith – said to be a common surname used by British Romanies.

The journal also claims gipsy descent for Charlie Chaplin, Sir Michael Caine and Rita Hayworth.

It also cites Johnny Frankham, said to be 'famous for having floored the great Cassius Clay in an exhibition fight'.

But an expert has accused the magazine of spreading 'cant and misinformation' and pointed out that Elvis never claimed traveller origins.

David Altheer, a writer and researcher on gipsy culture, added: 'As far as it is known, there is no record of Elvis ever having claimed anything to do with gipsies. The fact someone had gipsy in their family 300 years ago is frankly irrelevant – it does not mean you are a gipsy.'

More than 20,000 copies of Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month Magazine have been produced for secondary schools and public libraries.

Under the headline Gypsy Roma Traveller Hall of Fame, Elvis's entry says that his 'ancestors came from Germany in the early 18th century and their original surname was Pressler'.

It added: 'It is also likely that his mother Gladys Love Smith was a Romanichal.'

But Mr Altheer, who co-ordinated the 2006 London International Gipsy Film Festival, described the magazine as a 'waste of taxpayers' money'.

Writing in the online magazine Spiked, he said: 'Being raised in the relevant land or culture is surely a basic requirement – which makes the promiscuous re-labelling of various stars as gipsies rather ridiculous.'
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More than 20,000 copies of the magazine have been produced for distribution to secondary school and public libraries

The magazine overlooks the fact that Smith is one of the most common names in the UK, he said.

Charlie Chaplin occasionally 'spouted dreadful fibs' about his family and claimed gipsy status from family members who were not blood relatives.

Rita Hayworth's father was not a flamenco gipsy, as has been claimed, but a Jewish Spaniard.

'As for Michael Caine, he was born Maurice Micklewhite to a Billingsgate fishmonger and a charwoman, not typical gipsy occupations.'

Johnny Frankham happened to be training at the same gym as Cassius Clay, who agreed to 'ham it up with Frankham for a photograph'.

Mr Altheer added: 'There are plenty of potential role models for gipsies who are quite happy to put themselves up as such. I object to these myths being propagated among schoolchildren when the idea is to be educating them about gipsies.'

Schools Minister Lord Adonis had said the history month would enable us all to 'celebrate the richness that gipsy, Roma and Travellers' communities bring to our everyday lives'.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said it had provided £70,000 of funding for the month, but had handed 'responsibility for the organisation and materials produced' to the travelling community.

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