January 13, 1998
Charles Thompson II|
THE DEATH OF ELVIS
Delacorte Press/January 1991
Photo Credit: Philip Bermingham
With all of the talk of Elvis being alive, Charles C. Thompson III and James P. Cole have written a book titled The Death of Elvis, What Really Happened (Delacorte/Dell Press).
Mr. Thompson was a founding producer for ABC-TV's news program 20/20 and serves as a producer for CBS-TV's 60 Minutes. He has spent over ten years tracking down the truth of what really happened to Elvis at Graceland on August 16, 1977. And Charles Thompson's conclusion is that Elvis is dead.
Q: Mr. Thompson, your book actually raises some new questions about the circumstances surrounding Elvis Presley's death.
A: It may raise new questions, but certainly not about him being alive. If you go through the complete autopsy and you chop somebody to pieces, you're not alive at the end of that process.
Q: I was referring to the rather strange activities of Elvis' step-brother David Sterling. He was trying to get someone out of Graceland on August 16. Who was that, and why didn't you name that person?
A: It was a girl. We know who she was and had talked to her. There just wasn't my point in naming her.
Q: Why shouldn't she have been inside of Graceland?
A: They were security conscious. They just didn't want anybody in there who wasn't cleared by Elvis. He just didn't appreciate it. David was supposed to be on duty, and he was late and fooling around. It's a fairly simple story.
Q: Elvis died of what?
A: Polypharmacy. He abused huge quantities of prescription drugs for years as dispensed by Dr. Nick.
Q: What caused the puffiness of Elvis' face?
A: According to Dr. Nick, it wasn't caused by cortisone but most probably by years of steroid use, I would think.
Q: Do you buy into the theory that a substitute body could have been brought to the hospital?
A: No. Elvis was well known by the hospital staff because he was treated there just two weeks prior to his death.
Q: What about the idea that Elvis' death was planned in advance because he had a special made-to-order coffin that could not have been had at the very last minute?
A: There was a plan in place by the people closest to him in the event he died. More than likely, the coffin was ordered in advance because he had nearly overdosed a couple of times.
Q: It is also brought out in your book that the possibility exists that Elvis' girlfriend Ginger Alden let Elvis lay on the floor dying, while she was trying to sell her exclusive story to The National Enquirer. A: That's what Dick Grob thought. He said it sounded like her. He was a believable fellow. But he would've been dead at the time anyway. Grob made the point that he didn't think Ginger Alden had killed Elvis. She discovered the body. His theory was she was just capitalizing on it. She was just somebody who was gonna get cleaned up and meet the press. (Note: Dick Grob was Graceland's Security Chief.)
Q: What are we to make of all these Elvis sightings around the country?
A: Most fans accept the idea that Elvis is dead, but they really don't want to discuss how he died. And others have convinced themselves that Elvis is alive. So, no matter what type of evidence is presented to the country, they still cling to that idea.
Q: What about the reports of beads of sweat appearing in Elvis face as he's in the coffin. Dead bodies are not supposed to sweat. Many people have suggested it wasn't Elvis in that coffin. It was a dummy.
A: Who saw that? Give me a name. It's always reported that someone told someone else about seeing something. Just give me something tangible that says, "I was there. I stood in line. I went there and I saw sweat." Give me a name. The body would have looked different because most of the major internal organs had been removed.
Q: Gail Brewer Giorgis (author of Is Elvis Alive?) told me.
A: She told you. That's the problem. She'll say on a radio show the book says all kinds of things, and then you go read the book and there's nothing in there that says anything of the sort.
Q: What about the audio tape she included with her book. Have you heard them?
A: Yes, but you see, the funny thing about Gail is, she doesn't come out and say this is Elvis. In fact, we've been on a couple of radio shows together, and when you corner her to admit that Elvis is alive, she'll say, "Will you at least admit the possibility exists that he could be alive?"
Q: There is a report that one million dollars is missing from Elvis' checking account, and has yet to be accounted for. Is that true, and what was Elvis' financial shape at the time he died?
A: They're meticulous at that estate. Priscilla and Jack Soden, the fellow who's running it for her, are great business people. They're not missing a nickel. Col. Parker took 50 percent off the top. Elvis father got taken on a lot of swindles. And Elvis, as you well know, liked giving away a lot of expensive gifts. They weren't making a whole lot of money, and they didn't have a whole lot of cash at that time. They were going from concert to concert.
Gary James files his interviews from Syracuse, NY.