Back in 1991, Clarissa Explains It All premiered on Nickelodeon and, in my opinion, still stands as one of the coolest kids TV series of all time. Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart) had an awesome wardrobe, a great computer (for the time), and even a pet alligator named Elvis. But what happened to Elvis the Alligator from Clarissa Explains It All ? Well, in honor of the show's 25th anniversary, I figured it was time to catch up with the (fictional) little guy — who is now a very big gator, living a peaceful life outside of Hollywood — and Clarissa Darling's sandbox.
According to Mental Floss, Clarissa Explains It All creator Mitchell Kriegman decided to give his main character a pet gator because a unique girl like Clarissa needed to have a cool pet. Elvis was mostly featured in Season 1 of the series, which ran from 1991 until 1994. “He didn’t last past the first season, because cutting away to Elvis became really boring,” Kriegman said. "We’d have some guy take Elvis footage and we’d try to use it later, but it was just really [like]: ‘Do we really have to cut away to Elvis? He’s not the most interesting thing in this show.’”
It's not an opinion Elvis himself shares. "I loved my time on Clarissa Explains It All and I appreciate the big break the show gave me," Elvis told me. "I knew something was up when I realized my 'footage' never made it to the final cut. And then one day, I showed up and my dressing room was gone." He continued, after shedding a tear: "I only have happy memories with Melissa and the crew."
Elvis hasn't acted much in the past few years, aside from some bit parts on CSI: Miami. These days, he lives at the Los Angeles Zoo. His exhibit has a waterfall and he gets fed once a week: Whole rats, chicken, fish, and vitamin-laden alligator pellets. You know, the alligator diet.
He also enjoys rooting for his favorite NCAA football team: The University of Florida Gators. Elvis loved show business, but now he loves sunshine and food at the zoo. Does he still check the trades and look up casting breakdowns for gator roles? Of course he does — Hollywood is a hard dream to give up on.
For Elvis, Hollywood was in his (cold) blood. His dad, Elvis Sr., played Elvis the Alligator on the '80s crime series Miami Vice. Elvis Sr. played the pet of Det. Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) on the TV series for two seasons and it definitely influenced Elvis Jr's celloid dreams. But it's a hard business to break into, let alone sustain a career.
"Unfortunately, most of the roles in TV and movies go to dogs and cats — occasionally birds," the younger Elvis said. "There just aren't a lot of quality roles for alligators. I just want someone to give me a chance in a role I can really sink my teeth into. I know it's out there somewhere."