Elvis Presley: Inside His Battle With Drugs And Diet

Elvis Presley began dating Linda Thompson in 1972, after suffering from addictions to drugs and having a rough few years. He was in the middle of a big, critically-acclaimed comeback tour, and things were looking up for the King. Thompson recalled this time in the early days of their romance, within her memoir A Little Thing Called Life. People relays her words.

“From our first moments together, our relationship was all-encompassing. The first year of the four and half we would share, we were together 24 hours a day. For this moment in time, he was perfection [and] the greatest sex symbol in the world.”

However, over the course of her near-five-year relationship with Elvis, Linda was witness to the decline in health of the iconic star. Prescription pill abuse soon took over the star’s life and Presley became entirely focused on his appearance which led him to try very extreme diets. One such diet included doctors keeping Elvis on constant sedation for a duration of two weeks so that he couldn’t eat.

Thompson shares descriptive detail about the unnerving experiences she was witness to, including one involving finding Elvis face down in a bowl of his chicken noodle soup, passed out due to impairment from drugs.

“Whatever he took besides the Placidyl for sleeping had hit him hard and fast. I shouted to wake him up, but he was completely passed out. Terrified, I jumped onto the bed. As I held his head up by his hair, he had chicken soup and noodles all over his face. I started to clean his throat, literally pulling out chunks of food.”

Linda then describes how she administered a shot of Ritalin to revive him until the doctors arrived on the scene.

“‘A few hours later, he awoke. M-M-M-Mommy,’ she recalls Presley saying, referring to Thompson by his nickname for her. ‘I-I-I-I had a-a-a dream. I dreamed that I was dying.'”

Finally, in 1976, Linda knew she had to end their relationship that was once so incredible. She moved out of the singer’s home and only eight months later she was completely heartbroken when she got a call from Lisa Marie Presley, then only 9, who said, “My daddy’s dead!”

“That was that. Forty-two years old, and gone.”

There has been controversy as to how Elvis died, yet Linda Thompson knows it is not a mystery after witnessing the drug addictions the star was gripped by. Elvis’ own stepbrother, David Stanley, recalled the extreme to which the star abused prescription drugs. People shares his account.

“I have never seen a human being in my life abuse drugs like Elvis. I am not talking about street drugs — I am talking about prescribed drugs. Some of the doctors were out for the almighty buck. They called them ‘prescribed’ drugs, but he was addicted to them. He was taking narcotics shots — as far as I know in the muscles, not intravenously — of liquid demerol and stuff like that. He would use an excuse like a sprained ankle for taking Dilaudid; that’s the strongest pain medication you can get — they usually prescribe it for terminal cancer patients.”

Linda Thompson later went on to become a notable lyricist and also married and divorced Caitlyn Jenner, who was Bruce Jenner at the time. Thompson began dating Jenner only eight months after the heartbreak of Elvis’ passing. She fell for Jenner, as he was then a burly Olympian. The two went on to have two sons, Brandon and Brody. It was only two years after Brody’s birth in 1983 that Jenner finally shared with Thompson that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. Linda Thompson struggled to sustain their relationship after this and they soon parted ways.

[Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers]