Elvis film actor and singer Shonka Dukure has died, aged 44

1 September 2022, 13:25

Shonka Dukureh played Big Mama Thornton in Elvis
Shonka Dukureh played Big Mama Thornton in Elvis. Picture: Alamy/Shonka Dukureh

By Tom Eames

Elvis actor Shonka Dukureh's cause of death has been revealed, after her passing in July.

The actor played singer Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis. She died at the age of 44 on July 21.

Shonka was found dead by police in her home in Nashville, after one of her two young children found her unresponsive and asked their neighbour for help.

It has now been confirmed that the star had died of natural causes, according to a representative for the medical examiner’s office.

The official cause is listed as “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease”, relating to high blood pressure and a build-up of fats and cholesterol, leading to a blood clot.

Elvis - which starred Austin Butler as Elvis Presley - saw Shonka Dukure in her debut film role.

She portrayed Big Mama Thornton, who was the first artist to record the song ‘Hound Dog’ in 1952.

“Shonka was just starting to find a larger audience for her tremendous talent, and I got to see her uplift whole crowds of people at Coachella and beyond,” said Baz Luhrmann.

“A favourite word of Shonka’s, in daily use, was ‘blessings,’ and I, along with the entire Elvis cast, crew, and musical collaborators, feel truly blessed to have had time with her.”