Pete Vallee was just another small-town boy who moved to Las Vegas, along with his mother, to fulfil his dreams of stardom. Like so many others before him, Vallee chose a path well-travelled – he became an Elvis Presley impersonator, in a city brimming with them.
Big Elvis, a short documentary directed by Paul Stone tells Vallee’s story. As a young man, Vallee certainly resembled the King of Rock. He even wore a ring that his mother claimed was given to her by the real Presley. As his mother was dying, however, she told Vallee that she had an affair with Presley, leading him to believe that the singer might be his father. Vallee says he even tracked down Presley’s DNA and it was a perfect match with his. Unfortunately, he couldn’t officially prove that the DNA actually belonged to the iconic singer.
But that’s not all that’s special about Vallee. What sets Valle aka “Big Elvis” – literally the biggest Elvis impersonator in Vegas and perhaps the entire world – apart from other impersonators is “his voice, his size, and the size of his voice”.
“Most Elvis impersonators are just cheesy mimics,” says the narrator of the documentary. “As a young man, Pete did look a lot like Elvis, but he no longer does or even tries to, hair, glasses and costume notwithstanding. But forget that when you see him. Listen.”
At one point, Vallee weighed 960-pounds (435 kilos) and was clinically depressed. “How is it possible to wake up one day and suddenly notice you weigh half a ton?” the narrator asks. “Most 960-pound people barely leave their bedrooms, much less brave public ridicule to perform three shows a day. On stage, though, no one saw it get to Pete. He wanted his audience to have a good time. He fed off that.”
Vallee ultimately decided to get healthier and went through an incredible journey of weight loss and with a truckload of determination, his big heart and his bigger voice, Pete Vallee became “truly the biggest act in Vegas”.