Filmmaker with ties to Elvis comes to Cape May
The youngest bodyguard in rock ‘n roll history, David E. Stanley lived in Graceland Mansion, Memphis, Tenn. from 1960-1977. He was Elvis Presley’s stepbrother.
In a story lost to the ages, Stanley and his two brothers moved into the mansion when their mother, Davada (Dee) Stanley married Vernon Presley. David was just 4 years old.
Growing up in the shadow of the King, young David Stanley was surrounded by all things Elvis.
In 1972, Elvis invited David to join him on the road as part of his personal entourage. David accompanied Elvis to as many as 1000 concerts and became an integral member of the inner circle. He was at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977 when Elvis died.
David, now working under the name D. Edward Stanley, is a successful writer, director, and producer. His journey to this place and time is quite a story.
David has come to Cape May to set up the East Coast office of Impello Films, his production company. He is impressed by the artistic perspective and respect for the entertainment arts he has found here.
David loves to be around creative people, and he wants to write here, as he develops his intellectual properties. He is hoping that Cape May will embrace him and his story.
David is finishing up work on his latest book and screenplay, “Restoring My Father’s Honor.” This new film is not about life with the Presleys.
He has already written several books and produced films and documentaries about that experience (for people interested in that part of his life, he recommends the Web site protectingtheking.com).
His new work is far more personal and has taken David on a journey to honor his biological father; to tell that side of the story.
The Stanley family, including career soldier SSGT Bill, his wife Dee, and sons Billy Jr., Ricky, and David, met Vernon Presley in Frankfurt, Germany while Elvis was stationed there.
Soon it became evident that the widower Vernon was interested in Dee. The Presley fame and fortune was too much of a lure for David’s mother, who consequently left Bill and took her three sons to Graceland with Vernon, Elvis, and Priscilla.
Bill’s life went into a tailspin and ultimately he received a ‘less than honorable’ discharge from the Army and lived out his remaining years in Jacksonville, Fla. When Elvis and David were on tour in Jacksonville, Elvis would tell David to call.
“Don’t ever forget your father; always honor him,” Elvis said often. David did see his father from time to time, with even a visit or two at Graceland. But the bond was broken.
“I was brought up Presley,” David said in a recent interview.
When his father died in 1991, David did not go to the funeral.
“It’s my biggest regret, not attending the funeral,” he now says.
A few months after his father died, David received a UPS box of his father’s memoirs, including 110 pages of writings, his medals and other memorabilia that his father had kept over the years “so my sons will know.”
After 19 years of military service, the elder Stanley had died without a military pension and no ceremonial flag for his coffin. That UPS delivery sent David on a journey “to find my father…to find myself.”
In 1994 David attended the 50th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion in France and walked along the beach wearing his father’s medals and ribbons.
While there, he met a man who had served with his father on that day 50 years ago.
The man told him, “Get his flag, son. Restore his honor.”
That scene in Normandy is how the movie will begin. And the ending, well, David gets that flag. In between is the poignant story of the man left in the shadow of the Presleys.
David calls himself a writer, but not by choice. His circumstances are the stories he wrote.
A dropout at ninth grade, he got his life together at age 22, got clean, and went back to school, graduating from North Texas
producer and partner, Lexi Quinn, as they open the East Coast extension of Impello Films right here in Cape May.
Check out restoringmyfather’shonor.com for details on the film and production schedule.
“Find your quest, make a decision, go for your dreams,” he advises.
That’s just what he’s doing, at least part-time, in Cape May.