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Donut
04-09-2009, 07:58 AM
January 13, 1975

It seems like just the other day that his primal scream—and pelvis—dug a permanent dirt-road detour around what used to be called Tin Pan Alley. It couldn't possibly be two decades since those good old greasy-kid days. Yet his own don't-be-cruel dirge aside, a whole generation had better brace itself to be all shook up. This week (Jan. 8, to be painfully precise), Elvis Presley turns 40 years old.

The sullen smolder, the serpentine moves, the sideburns and hair (if not the pompadour cut) are still there. The voice tends to be croony where it used to be raunchy, and his lamé bodysuits paunch out in some different places. But the star born in a two-room Mississippi shack is not all that far from his $5 million-a-year prime. Elvis has an 18-room antebellum hillbilly palace—Graceland—on Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis; two other mansions in California; a stable full of cars (including a gold-plated Cadillac sprinkled with diamond dust); a phalanx of bureaucrats and bodyguards befitting a President; and a 24-year-old former Miss Universe contender girlfriend, Linda Thompson, who regards him as "second to only one in my life. And that one is God."

Indeed, the picture of Elvis that emerges is the sybaritic reclusiveness of a Howard Hughes combined with the ambivalent social consciousness of a Billy Jack. He is inaccessible to just about everyone except his Memphis Mafia retinue. He generally sleeps until late afternoon and almost never ventures out when he does awaken. Says Linda, now a model: "In the two-and-a-half years we've been together, we've only been to a restaurant once outside of Vegas."

For recreation, Elvis sings gospel songs with his cronies or watches one of the TV sets that adorn almost every room. His favorite shows include football and Kung Fu. That is scarcely surprising since Elvis' other pastime is karate. He has been studying the martial art for 16 years and holds an eighth-degree black belt. That training came in handy during a recent Las Vegas performance, when two karate-trained men attacked him from the audience. Elvis and his cohorts dispatched the drunken pair so swiftly that not even the band noticed.

Presley often rehearses with 20-odd pounds of weights on his wrists and ankles to sweat off bothersome fat. When chided about his midriff on one recent tour, Elvis protested that it was just a bullet-proof vest necessitated by assassination threats. The protective wall around Presley is the construction of his manager, Col. Tom Parker, the Suwannee Svengali who shrewdly took Elvis out of the spotlight before he could burn out his welcome (like, say, Johnny Cash). Parker did not bring him back big until 1969, when the first whiffs of '50s nostalgia wafted across the land. Of course, the colonel's theories of Maintained Mania fit nicely with Elvis' own reticent, hunkered-down personality.

Which is not to suggest that Presley is selfish. He is constantly rewarding retainers, not to mention random airline employees, with cars, jewelry and even houses. The largesse has totaled maybe half a million within recent months. Why? "Because Elvis has so much, he just wants to share it," Linda told reporter George Bernard. "He was raised in the Assembly of God, and he believes that his wealth and talent come from God." That, she says, is also the reason Elvis does not smoke or drink. "There have been heartless, cruel, vicious rumors that have persisted about Elvis using drugs. Why, Elvis is a federal narcotics officer! Three years ago former President Nixon issued Elvis a federal agent's badge."

Elvis' piety never extended to total chastity. What red-blooded male could resist all those frothing, clawing entreaties. Or the letters, like the one he recently received, saying, "You don't have to marry me, Elvis, just give me your baby." Yet Elvis finally settled down in 1967, marrying Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he had begun courting in 1959 while he was in the Army.

Enter Linda, who was introduced by a friend. "I had never dated a married man," she recalls, "and Mr. Presley was not going to be the exception. That is, until he said he was legally separated. I attacked him on the spot. I moved in immediately, and a week later Elvis filed for divorce." "As for morality," Linda explains, "Elvis is not John Doe. This situation cannot be compared to anything else, so morality is not applicable. It is certainly not a normal life, traveling and all that. But it is a nice abnormal life." Linda and Elvis, for example, amicably share his daughter, Lisa, now 7, with Priscilla, and Linda's parents are established right around the corner from Graceland.

Last year Elvis was plagued by bouts of pneumonia. But the number 40 does not make him feel particularly menopausal or shook up. At concerts Presley introduces his daddy, Vernon, now 59, and proudly announces, "He's more of a hound than I am."

Donut
04-09-2009, 08:02 AM
December 4, 1978

Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, 33, is the dark lady of rock'n'roll. She is the only woman Elvis the King ever loved enough to marry, and she bore his only child, Lisa Marie.

It has been nearly two decades since Priscilla first caught the eye of Sgt. Elvis Presley in West Germany. She was at the time the precociously beautiful 14-year-old daughter of an Air Force captain. In 1972 she stunned Elvis—and fans everywhere—by dramatically walking out on their fairytale marriage. But even after his death, while others of the Memphis Mafia scrambled to cash in their memories, Priscilla remained private and deeply loyal. Typically, she marked the hysterical first anniversary of Presley's death last August 16 her own way, slipping unnoticed into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. She was joined there by her current love, Michael Edwards, a 33-year-old model and sometime actor. "It meant so much to me," she muses now, "that a man in my life was sharing the moments of another man in my life." But since Elvis' death, Priscilla Presley has never—until this interview with PEOPLE'S Judy Kessler—shared it with the world.

That first August anniversary turned out to be a watershed in Priscilla's life. She and Edwards, whom she met at a party in her Beverly Hills home last June, have lived together ever since. Simultaneously, she is now making her strongest effort to escape the Presley past. "With Elvis," she says, "my life was his life. He had to be happy. We never disturbed him. My problems were secondary." Today Priscilla has decided, "I want to grow. I want to do things." Her divorce settlement—$1.7 million plus $8,000 a month until 1983—notwithstanding, one of the things Priscilla wants is an acting career. "I was just starting to get into it when Elvis died. Then I realized that I would have to wait a year. I didn't want people to say that I was capitalizing on that."

This fall Priscilla "decided I might as well give it a try." She's sold the Beverly Hills boutique she ran, signed with the William Morris Agency, studied acting and is talking of making feature films or at least a TV movie. But what was to be her debut—a guest shot on a Tony Orlando NBC special—is in limbo. The network keeps postponing the show and can't decide whether or not to drop Orlando's guest lineup in favor of a solo concert. "The pressure and rejection can pound you right down to the ground," she admits. "I don't want that to happen to me."

Priscilla's other worry is that developing her career might require too much time away from her daughter, who is now 10. With her heavy-lidded eyes and natural pout, Lisa looks startlingly like her dad. "It was extemely difficult for her when her father died—they were very, very close," says Priscilla. After considerable brooding, she decided to send Lisa away to camp both immediately after the funeral and again this past August to get her away from "all the sadness and grief. She was around playful kids and didn't hear the news all the time. She was still hurt, but she's very secure. She's a strong, strong girl."

That Lisa is so well-adjusted is a tribute to her mother, who "always felt a major responsibility, because Elvis was never really around children ever." One problem was curbing the extravagant gifts that a man who gave Cadillacs to utter strangers tried to lavish on his only child. "He wanted to give her a fur coat, a diamond ring," Priscilla recalls. "I told him there's no way I will allow her to wear a diamond ring at the age of 8. So he returned it. He just needed to be enlightened a little bit. That's the one thing Elvis used to laugh at. He'd say, 'You know, you're no fun to give presents to, because you could live in a shack and be happy.' "

Now that Lisa will be sole heir to a multimillion-dollar fortune, Priscilla (her legal guardian) feels that her sternness has paid off. "She's not aware of how much money she has," says Mother, "and I don't know myself because it's something I'm not into. Lisa goes around turning off all the lights in the house, because she knows the electric bill is high." Priscilla also filters Lisa's friends, trying to make sure "she's liked for herself at first," and nixes what she calls "label people—Lisa has no idea who Gucci is. There are children in this town who do, and I don't want her around that type of person."

Priscilla traces "my basic values to my parents—and my whole outlook on life to Elvis." Even as a child in Connecticut, where she was the eldest of six children of a strict Air Force career man, she says, "I always knew that something extraordinary was going to happen to me." It did in Bad Nauheim, Germany. When Elvis finished his hitch as an Army driver and returned to the U.S., he gave her a pearl ring, a gold-and-diamond watch and his GI jacket. When Priscilla was not yet 16 and still "a child full of dreams," Elvis sent for her.

"It was a long ordeal," remembers Priscilla of her parents' initially shocked reaction. "Elvis had to do a lot of talking on the phone to get me over there. But he promised my father that I would go to a Catholic school in Memphis, and my grades had to be up all the time. Of course they weren't." Sometimes Elvis picked her up at school in a limo, and he flew her back and forth from his movie sets in L.A. "It was a life-style so outrageous," she now senses, "that I'm just thankful I've come out sane." Then at 21, in a Las Vegas civil ceremony, she undertook the position of consort that she'd been groomed for all those years. A band played Love Me Tender. Nine months later to the day, Lisa was born.

Though her dislocations as an Air Force brat had prepared her for Elvis' peripatetic life-style, Priscilla never adjusted to his coterie of hangers-on and sycophants. "I would just take it all in," she says, "and learn from how people acted. I saw the phoniness, the bullshit, that was going on. I would sit back and think, 'My God, I don't ever want to be like that.' " In 1972 Priscilla told Elvis between shows one night in Las Vegas that she'd fallen in love with another man (Mike Stone, her karate instructor). "She was up front about it," one of Presley's bodyguard cronies later wrote in Elvis: What Happened? "She didn't want to make a fool of Elvis. I liked her for that."

Even after their split, Priscilla continued to visit Graceland with Lisa. "It was like we were never divorced," she remembers. "Elvis and I still hugged each other, still had love. We would say 'Mommy said this' and 'Daddy said that.' That helped Lisa to feel stable. There was never any arguing or bitterness." When Elvis' death came, it "was a shock," Priscilla says, "although I saw his health failing and even went back to Memphis once to see if there was anything I could do." Now Priscilla seethes at rumors of a subsequent falling-out between herself and Elvis' father, Vernon. "There is no feud," she says. "We get along beautifully." She still phones "Mr. Presley" (recently hospitalized for a heart condition) regularly and takes Lisa back to Graceland for Christmas and Easter. "I never want that contact lost," says Priscilla firmly. "It's her family."

After the romance with Stone, and another with hairdresser Elie Erzer, Priscilla has settled happily into her unwed relationship with Mike Edwards. "For the first time in my life I have been able to do and be everything I want." Mike, in turn, says, "She turned me from a gypsy into a grown-up man. This is what males search for all their lives." Edwards, who has an 11-year-old daughter by his own first marriage, feels that "Lisa likes me. But definitely her father isn't out of her mind. And it's difficult for any 10-year-old, even if she's looking for a father substitute, to replace one man with another." Not so for Priscilla. "I've never compared Elvis to anyone or them to him," she says. "Everyone has their good points and bad points." A formal commitment, though, is beyond consideration. "To me, marriage means nothing," Priscilla continues. "It makes you feel like you're glued. I think Michael and I have more in a relationship than most people have in a marriage."

The three of them live in her three-bedroom contemporary house with pool and tennis court. Her jet-black beehive and masklike makeup that Elvis once loved have given way to a soft, natural beauty, symbolic of her new freedom. Mother wakes her daughter up at 7:30 singing. Lisa writes notes to her on her blackboard like "Dear Mommy, I'll miss you today at school." It's a private school and two days a week, Priscilla drives the carpool (in a Mercedes sports car). Then she comes home to read the paper or take her daily half-hour swim with Edwards. Priscilla shuns premieres, Hollywood bashes and the modish bistros. "If I go out, I want a nice, romantic dinner with my man." Her favorite activities, aside from discoing, are horseback riding, camping in their Jeep and long "mother-daughter talks" in the bathroom. "We want to experience everything together."

Aside from acting, another possibility—though still some years away—is a book to set straight the "rumors, misconceptions and lies" Priscilla feels have been published since Elvis' death. "It's cruel, and I knew it would happen," she says. "I feel I owe it to his fans," she adds. "I just want people to know and love him." Of course, that might mean reliving some pain. "The kind of thing Priscilla's been through, what she's seen and experienced couldn't happen to any other woman in the world," says Edwards. Priscilla concurs: "I feel like I've lived four lifetimes." Even now she avoids Presley records, movies and the TV retrospectives. "I have beautiful memories—good more than bad—but I would be torturing myself, and I can't do that to myself or my child. I went through a lot at a young age. Life is so short, I don't want to dwell on the sadness. That chapter is closed."

SleepyJack
04-09-2009, 08:08 AM
Ah yes....but has she ever had her picture on the cover of the rolling stone!....Rolling Stooooone...!!!!!:D:D:D

Donut
04-09-2009, 08:27 AM
It's very unlikely SleepyJack :D:D:D

SleepyJack
04-09-2009, 08:48 AM
I`m having one of my more "forgetful" days...Forgot to thank you for posting these! It`s always nice to see these.....since.at their time of publication I don`t think I had even mastered the beginning of the alphabet!!!
So...again...THANK YOU!(y)(y)(y)

Tommy
04-09-2009, 09:09 AM
Thank you for the articles. (y)

KPM
04-09-2009, 11:45 AM
I still have that "Elvis is 40" People magazine somewhere.(y)

renapap05
04-09-2009, 12:52 PM
Thank you so much for sharing this:notworthy

franny
04-09-2009, 08:34 PM
I still have that "Elvis is 40" People magazine somewhere.(y)

Great! (y) KPM, is there any way you can post the article/pics from it? I would love to read it.

franny

Donut
04-10-2009, 02:23 AM
Great! (y) KPM, is there any way you can post the article/pics from it? I would love to read it.

franny

franny... it's all in the first post of this same thread LOL

midnight
04-10-2009, 05:56 AM
Thanks for sharing that with us Donut! I have those magazines that I got at the time when they came out. It is interesting to read them now and see the change of events that has occured since then.
It must have of been difficult for Elvis to know that articles was out about him like the one in that that "People" issue. It certainly was not the most flattering!
Quite opposite to the Priscilla article. According to that Priscilla was the perfect ex wife and mom. I laugh when I read that she was trying to "escape the Presley past"! Seems now she want us to "never forget her Presley past":hmm: So much I could say here on her interview but I will keep it to myself.:)
Nice to read these again! Kim

Lisarose
04-10-2009, 06:43 AM
Goodness, that photo of Priscilla on page 4 of her article, Riley could be her twin!
Great article on Elvis, and I'm so glad they published great photos of him. He was gorgeous.

Getlo
04-10-2009, 07:09 AM
Ah, yes ... the good ol' days when Priscilla's face looked normal and she'd yet to master the "grieving widow" thing.

Good times. Good times. ;)

elvispresleytheking
04-10-2009, 07:33 AM
THank you! ENjoyed reading them!

Donut
04-10-2009, 08:18 AM
It is interesting to read them now and see the change of events that has occured since then.

It is! It's almost comical :lol:;)

Brian
04-10-2009, 12:35 PM
Ah, yes ... the good ol' days when Priscilla's face looked normal and she'd yet to master the "grieving widow" thing.

Good times. Good times. ;)

those were the days

Brian
04-10-2009, 12:41 PM
I didn't think the article about Elvis was bad at all.

As far as the Priscilla article where she says she shuns hollywood parties and preimeres that's B.S.

Thank you, for posting Donut

Donut
04-12-2009, 04:51 AM
I didn't know you could tour the Circle G Ranch in 78 :blink:

August 21, 1978

One Year Later
'Elvis Was the Light That Shined on Everybody': A Glimpse into a Year of Grief, Confusion and Riches.

They flock to his Memphis mansion by the thousands every day—pilgrims shuffling down Elvis Presley Boulevard toward the charismatic relics of his life and his death a year ago. They pry the stones from the wall around Graceland, they steal bouquets from the grave, they rail against his death. Some angrily insist he is still alive and in hiding. Each morning hundreds of fresh flowers arrive. Without fail, two California girls send the same token of their grief every week—an arrangement in the shape of a broken heart.

His force and following seem undiminished. This week no less than 150,000 people are expected to converge on Memphis for the anniversary vigil and tribute. Presley enterprises continue to grow as bullishly as if he were still alive—perhaps even more so—forging a multimillion-dollar estate so complex it will take years to measure and untangle. Graceland remains as he left it. His upstairs living quarters have been locked, his clothes left hanging in the closets. His three cars stand idle.

Nothing is changed and everything is different—especially for those who were among Graceland's inner court. Dear friends and relatives are still allowed in the mansion, but few have much taste for going back. Its only inhabitants are Elvis' chronically ill grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, 89, and her daughter, Delta Mae Biggs, 54, who cares for her. Most of the payrolled coterie are gone.

Perhaps they are the lucky ones. The people on these pages are still tied to Elvis—by love, blood and money—and they struggle with the adjustment to life without him. For some it's as simple as learning to sleep at night instead of during the day, as the nocturnal Elvis did; for others as basic as deciding what to do and how to act once the mainspring of 20 years has snapped. "Elvis was Graceland," says his cousin Billy Smith, for years one of the singer's close aides and now a maintenance man on the Illinois Central-Gulf Railroad. "He was the light that shined on everybody. Once the light's gone, you have to look for something else."

Priscilla and Lisa make a new life in Beverly Hills

"I was always a little girl to him," said Priscilla Presley recently, recalling her six-year marriage to Elvis. In fact she was a 14-year-old Air Force brat when they began their seven-year courtship during his tour as a Gl in Germany.

Yet, since their divorce in 1973, Priscilla, perhaps uniquely, has had the chance to grow up—and away from Elvis. The Memphis bouffant hairdo and thick cosmetics are long gone, and she seems to thrive on the day-and night-sports of Beverly Hills, where she lives in a three-bedroom house with Elvis' only daughter and eventual sole heir, Lisa Marie. Now 31, Priscilla dabbles at painting, photography, Eastern religion and gourmet cooking. The divorce settlement was generous. "She doesn't have to worry," a friend says. After a three-year romance with karate instructor Mike Stone, Priscilla has been dating Hollywood hairdresser Elie Erzer and model Michael Edwards. She has returned to Memphis only once since the funeral. "Elvis' death affected her deeply," says the friend. "But she's strong now—she's her own person."

Lisa apparently has no idea what riches she is heir to and is shielded from knowing too much too soon "very carefully," says Graceland security chief Dick Grobe. Still, for a normal Beverly Hills 10-year-old who goes to camp and private school and has a crush on John Travolta, a friend of Priscilla's, she seems remarkably savvy in some ways. "She's very aware of who has exploited her father's death," says Linda Thompson, who lived with Elvis for five years post-Priscilla. "She doesn't like it, but she understands." Like Grobe, Linda credits Priscilla with having raised a "happy, well-adjusted" child. "She's looking more like Elvis every day," says Linda. "She has his eyes. You know how Elvis had that very lonely, faraway gaze? She has the same look in her eyes."

Vernon and Colonel Parker keep the cash flowing

Until Lisa turns 21, the man watching over the Presley fortune is Elvis' father, Vernon, 62. Named sole executor of the estate in the will, Vernon has endured "a very traumatic year," according to one close friend. "This has been a total devastation for him. He lost more than a son; he lost his best friend. He's completely alone now except for Lisa."

For three years Vernon has lived in a five-bedroom house around the corner from Graceland with his girlfriend-nurse, Sandy Miller, 39, and her three children. But later this month they reportedly plan to move to Graceland and to get married sometime after that. Even the short commute to his office there has been taxing for Vernon. He suffers from a heart condition, a pinched nerve in his neck, diabetes and back problems that force him to lie still on the floor for hours at a time. He cannot walk more than 50 feet without a rest. But every day he climbs into a pickup truck (which he prefers to his Cadillac) and drives to Graceland. Business, after all, is booming. Record sales this year are figured at $400 million, and another $100 million or so has come in from sales of T-shirts, toys and other licensed Presliana. Vernon, meanwhile, has signed on with the William Morris Agency and now demands $25,000 for an interview.

Col. Tom Parker, the cigar-chomping, carny-smart manager who masterminded Elvis' career, is keeping other cash registers ringing as well. Parker, 67, hopes to start production soon on a film, The Elvis Presley Years. Parker's cut, according to one source, will be $5,000 per week once work gets underway.

Graceland: old retainers hustle in the name of TCB

Few people were more affected by Elvis' death than Graceland's staff and the relatives, buddies and gofers collectively known as the Memphis Mafia. Many have become minor celebrities in Elvis' reflected glory.

His Uncle Vester, 63, is an author now, and he promotes his book from a folding chair just inside the four-foot walls of Graceland. For the past 21 years Vernon Presley's peppery older brother has been the mansion's gatekeeper. A Presley Speaks, his homespun reminiscence, comes in both a $10 edition and a gold-bound $25 deluxe version that is wrapped in an Elvis scarf and signed by the author. Vester reveals that Elvis "was very sick for the last two years—liver problems, bad colon, enlarged heart," and adds, "I don't think I'll ever get over his death." Even with the book's brisk sales at the gatehouse, Vester says the job is "getting to me. When Elvis was living here, there were days when it was quiet. But now there's no rest."

Cousin Billy Smith is a different sort. For years he lived in a trailer on Graceland's 13-acre grounds, and legend has it that Elvis sometimes wouldn't go to bed without his cousin in the room. Now "I stay as far away as I can," says Billy, 36. "It brings back too many memories." Occasionally he turns up at his late cousin's old Mississippi ranch to sign autographs and chat with fans taking the $2 tour. There, inside a tiny cottage, he keeps a display of memorabilia, including motorcycle gloves once worn by Elvis and a racket Elvis gave him. But Billy accepts no pay for his appearances and says he'll be staying with the railroad. "It's a sure thing," he explains.

Pauline Nicholson, 49, a cook and maid at Graceland for the past 15 years, has stayed on to work for Grandma Minnie and Aunt Delta, but Elvis' death is still a fresh wound. If anything, she says, it's "harder on me now than it was at first." She was one of the last to speak to him before his death in an upstairs bathroom, and the memory still brings tears: "I thought maybe he was ready to eat, but he said, 'I'm not hungry, Pauline. I'm just going up and go to sleep.' " Having sold the Buick Le Sabre, a gift from him in 1964, her most prized memento is the neck pendant he gave her—and the other women close to him—shaped in the initials TLC, for Tender Loving Care.

For the men it was TCB—Taking Care of Business—and security chief Dick Grobe heeds the message. "I think the hardest job I've ever had in my entire life was to set up the security for the funeral," says Grobe, 38. Lisa Presley came to Grobe because she heard he had lost his father when he was a little boy. They went for a ride in a golf cart, and Grobe gently told Elvis' daughter: "You'll get over the loss. The world isn't going to stop. But you'll always have the memories." He adds: "She accepted that."

Grobe was a Palm Springs police sergeant when he was assigned to Elvis' honeymoon detail in 1967. Four years ago he joined the singer's Memphis staff. Elvis' death, he says, "has left a big emptiness in my life. We're just taking care of business, like the slogan says."

Part of Grobe's off-duty business is shepherding the career of Charlie Hodge, 43, the rhythm guitarist and harmony singer who performed with Elvis for nearly two decades. The 5'3" Hodge is probably most famous as the little man on the bandstand who kept Elvis draped in sweaty scarves. Charlie recently moved out of Graceland's garage apartment and into his own place in Memphis ("Mr. [Vernon] Presley made that decision—I didn't," he confesses). Hodge works Elvis conventions and record stores as a celebrity autographer and occasionally picks up $1,000 by singing at tribute concerts. There is "no animosity" about his Graceland leave-taking, he insists. "They have my phone number, and they know they can call me any hour of the day or night to do anything. I'll be there."

Linda and Ginger: His last leading ladies

After his years with Priscilla, plus a few backstage flings (with Ann-Margret, Juliet Prowse and others), Elvis turned to a pair of homegrown beauties. Linda Thompson, a striking Miss Tennessee of 1972, moved into Graceland after Elvis' divorce and stayed for five years. Ginger Alden, Memphis' Miss Traffic Safety of 1976, was the singer's last steady companion. She discovered his body on the morning he died.

Linda, 28, a sometime actress and one of the regulars on TV's Hee Haw, divides her time among Los Angeles, Memphis and Nashville. She has kept her friendly ties to the Presley clan, visits Graceland frequently and often talks by phone with Elvis' daughter, Lisa. For the past 18 months her steady beau has been David Briggs, a keyboard player at Elvis' recording sessions. "I still miss Elvis a lot," says Linda. "I'll never love that way again. But I don't really want to. I don't miss the confinement. I don't miss the restrictions and the restraining kind of lifestyle. I don't miss sleeping all day and staying up all night."

If Linda's hours are now more normal, her career in Hollywood is still erratic. She recently posed on roller-skates for some cheesecake poster art, but she insists on setting herself apart from those who have exploited the Elvis connection. "It's as if everyone was planning all the years they were with him, 'Should anything happen to Elvis, man, I could do this, I could do that,' " she complains. "Suddenly people are turning up diaries they've kept, or home movies. Everybody is writing books. It's really sad. Elvis was a human soul, not a commodity."

Ginger Alden insists that her own first movie has nothing to do with Elvis. That The Living Legend will tell of an overweight rock'n'roll superstar who keeps an entourage of karate-chopping bodyguards is, she suggests, merely coincidental. All the same, her debut role as the star's girlfriend, concedes Ginger, will probably "come naturally for me."

Alden was a 19-year-old Memphis beauty contestant when she was introduced to Elvis in 1976. "Our first date was the next night," she recalls. "We went for a ride in the Stutz, and then we flew to Las Vegas. That was a different kind of date for me." Ginger still has the three cars and headlight diamond Elvis gave her, and she is rankled by those who doubt that he planned to marry her. "Even Elvis' jeweler said we were engaged," she says.

Ginger now lives in the Memphis suburbs with her parents. Her mother has filed suit against the Presley estate, claiming that Elvis promised to pay off the family mortgage. Ginger hasn't been inside Graceland since the funeral, but says that Elvis' death "is the first thing that hits me when I wake up. It's like everything in life is different."

And so it is, for most of those who once lived so securely in Elvis' shadow. Despite the passage of time and the crowds in Memphis this week, Graceland may well be the loneliest place in town. "Everything is just as it was when he was living," says Linda Thompson. "When you come into the house, you expect Elvis to come down the stairs and say, 'Hey, what's going on, everybody?' You expect it to be lively and happy. And it's just not."

Donut
04-12-2009, 04:53 AM
(These didn't fit in the last post)