Local Elvis Impersonator Joins The King

Johnny Harra portrayed Presley in biopic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Warner Brothers Pictures
    Johnny Harra as Elvis from the film "This is Elvis."

    Commentary
    by Bruce Felps

    Cockrell Hill resident Johnny Harra, who made a living from impersonating Elvis Presley, passed on to the great Graceland in the sky Wednesday afternoon.

    A moment of silence, please.

    Now the two can sing duets if the real Elvis’ ego, even in the afterlife, will allow it.

    Harra experienced the ups and downs of showmanship, once commanding upward of $2,000 a night performing in Las Vegas before hitting the hard times and playing birthday parties for $100, according to a 2002 Fort Worth Star-Telegram profile.

    He battled weight gain, diabetes, arthritis, and the IRS, but before those hardships he portrayed The King in a movie titled “This Is Elvis,” in which Harra played the aging Presley and appeared onscreen as the deceased Elvis.

    But, he rebounded.

    "Johnny Harra was my best friend," said Charlie Estepp, Harra's longtime friend and manager. "He loved everyone and never met a stranger. He sang because that's what made him happy and knew it put smiles on other people faces."

    Filled with stories, Estepp shared tales of Harra's overwhelming generosity in a recent discussion with NBCDFW. Estepp credited Harra with giving away anything he owned, from CDs to cars, to those in less fortuante than he.

    The latter of which Estepp said Harra gave away to a widower and her children they both saw struggling to walk home with groceries.

    "The next thing I know, me and Johnny were on foot walking down the road. He had gave the family his car," Estepp said. "Anyone can put on a jumpsuit and twist and shake and sing Elvis Presley's songs. But it takes a very special person to be the kind of person Elvis was. Johnny Harra was the special kind of person. Johnny, I will always love you and never forget you."

    Now, though, the tribute-music scene mourns the death of what might have been described as the second coming of Elvis...and his equally-tragic second passing.


    Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. Sorry, he doesn’t know, or really care about, Elvis music enough to drop song references.