On page 195 of David Stanley’s book, “Life With Elvis,” there are a whole bunch of assumptions and conclusions that absolutely boggle the mind. The main mind-boggler is that Linda Thompson, had she been with Elvis at the time of his death, would have saved his life. Seriously? How has this idea stayed afloat for so long? I hope that Elvis fans can read the analysis below and understand what I am saying, because for too long in Elvis World this kind of non-critical thinking (“Linda would have saved him!”) has become far too prevalent. No further introduction is necessary for this, so let’s dive right in.
David Stanley writes that he told Linda Thompson, at Elvis’s funeral on August 18, 1977, that had she “been there” at Graceland when Elvis died, she would have saved him. Linda Thompson is in agreement with this statement, according to Stanley, saying, “I know,” and that if she had been there, “he’d still be alive.” Do Elvis fans not see anything wrong with this position?
First, when Linda or any of Elvis’s friends or family had “saved” Elvis’s life, going back to 1972 or so in this case, the emergency had been a blocked airway, or a fall, or a bump on the head, or whatever. These are serious situations, sure, but often it was just a matter of taking a few easy steps to assist, and with some rest or an aspirin the problem would be resolved. It doesn’t take a medical degree to dislodge a piece of steak. But what is so troubling here is that the notion that Linda Thompson could have saved Elvis is so illogical and ridiculous that it is difficult for me to even understand how anyone can honestly believe this (and this notion has been thrown around the Elvis community for many years, by many people who should know better). Did Linda know what caused Elvis’s death? Did David Stanley know? I would respectfully challenge both of them: if you each believed in 1977 that Linda would have saved Elvis’s life that day, then please inform us as to what caused his death, and how you knew this two days later? After all, if you can say, “If Linda had been there he’d still be alive,” then you must know how he died, and what actions you would have taken to save him.
[Note: I’d be interested to know if Linda Thompson has ever made this claim herself. In her book, she writes that her mother said to her, at Elvis’s funeral: “You know, a lot of people came up to me and said if you had been there with him, he’d still be alive.” When her mother asked if Linda agreed with those people, she replied, “No, I really don’t. I think things happen as they’re meant to happen.” So even though Elvis fans still, to this day, promote this notion of Linda as Elvis’s savior, Linda herself does not share this opinion. If Linda rejects it, why don’t the fans?]
I’d also like to ask David Stanley, and anyone who was a daily part of Elvis’s life during the 1970s besides Dr. Nichopoulos, if they know how to medically respond to a central nervous system collapse. Anyone…? If so many people are so certain, as David Stanley says, that Elvis would have survived August 16 if Linda had been present, then I’d really like an explanation of how anyone can know this, and what medical training these folks had, and how any of them would have assessed Elvis’s situation. Elvis did not die of lodged food scraps in his throat, or a concussion, he died of something far more complex and serious, something that would have required an actual doctor, even a team of doctors. To my knowledge, no one around Elvis (girlfriends, family, friends) was a doctor. Who, then, was saying this back then, that “Elvis would still be alive” if Linda had been with him, and who was mentioning this to Linda Thompson’s mother?
In 2020, with all we know about Elvis’s health and his death, how can anyone still believe that Linda could have saved him?
[I wonder: Does “saving Elvis” really just mean, “calling the doctor”?]
Which leads me to the obvious question: If so many of these folks were concerned about Elvis’s health and his drug abuse, then why were aides and family members and girlfriends (since David Stanley says they were on staff, as well) not trained in advanced lifesaving procedures? Or did everyone just expect all of Elvis’s medical problems to be simple and easily resolved with the Heimlich or a cold compress or a telephone call to Dr. Nick? On August 16, it is reported that both Billy Smith and David Stanley started to go upstairs to check on Elvis sometime between 9:00am and 2:20pm (when he was reportedly in the bathroom alone), yet both decided not to do so. Why? Because Ginger was there. So if Ginger was there, was she the de facto doctor…? Everyone knew Elvis had serious medical/health issues and a serious drug abuse problem, and yet the level of care and oversight was, “20-year-old girlfriend with no medical training.” And this was accepted by everyone.
Stanley then writes that Linda had been good at looking after Elvis, and apparently followed “the cardinal rule” that everyone…employees and girlfriends…were also expected to follow: “When [Elvis gets] up from bed and [goes] into the bathroom…you [stay] awake until he [comes] back to bed.” Simple enough, and very admirable of her. But on this particular day, Ginger reported that Elvis did not “go to the bathroom,” which is what Stanley is referring to (that is, to use the facility); instead, Ginger says he went into the bathroom to read. This was not a case of Elvis “going to the bathroom” and then not returning for some strange reason after 20 minutes. This was Elvis going “into” the bathroom to read, and this reading session could have lasted 20 minutes, an hour, or 3 hours. Who knows how long Elvis wanted to read. This would be no different than if Elvis had gone into his office to read: the intent was not to use the facility, it was to read, and thus the meaning/context of the word “bathroom” changes (which Stanley conveniently misses). Again, “going to the bathroom” and “going into the bathroom to read” are not the same thing, and yet in this swipe at Ginger Alden, that is how Stanley is framing it. Or, was there also a rule that required girlfriends to check on Elvis every 20 minutes if he was reading in a different room…? I doubt it.
On the morning Elvis died, Ginger was in the bedroom, while Elvis was in the bathroom with the door closed. She didn’t get up to check on him because he was reading, as outlined above. While Ginger was asleep, she could not have realized Elvis hadn’t come back…because she was asleep. In this awkward swipe, Stanley is trying to suggest that Ginger “didn’t realize” that Elvis had not come back to bed, but people do not realize things when they are not awake. And it was not “the following morning.”
She “fell back asleep”? We’ll get to this one later.
“No one can be sure exactly what happened in those last few hours,” writes David Stanley without even a modicum of self-awareness. If no one can be sure what happened, then how on earth does Linda Thompson get credit for being the person who could/would have saved Elvis’s life? This is not just a matter of semantics or off-the-cuff remarks. David Stanley, and many others in Elvis World, have stated without reservation that if Linda Thompson had been with Elvis that day that she would have saved his life. For this credit to be properly assigned, then, she would had to have known what she was dealing with (i.e., what happened to Elvis’s system at the time he collapsed). No one can be sure what happened, says David Stanley. Well if no one can be sure what happened, then how can anyone say Linda would have saved Elvis? Does anyone realize the logical pretzel required here to make all this fit together?
No one can be sure what happened in those last few hours, and yet David Stanley stated that he and Linda agreed (in 1977) that Linda would have saved Elvis. Please consider the tortured logic used in reaching this conclusion.
Let’s also take a quick look at the fact that to “save” Elvis, Linda would had to have been right there next to him in the bathroom at the exact moment the terminal event hit him. How would she have been able to guarantee this? Check on Elvis every 2 minutes? Every minute? Every 30 seconds? Carry a chair around the house and sit down next to him wherever he goes, twenty-four hours a day? Even if “the cardinal rule” checkpoint of 20 minutes had been in effect, what if Elvis went into the bathroom at 9:00am, died at 9:05am, and Linda checked on him at 9:20am? Could she have saved him then? Of course not. NO ONE could have saved him, and yet many Elvis fans seem to view this whole question through the prism of Linda’s past lifesaving efforts, with food in the throat or falls or a bumped head. This is not what happened on August 16, so Linda Thompson’s previous care of Elvis is irrelevant. Even if Linda Thompson had been sitting with Elvis in the bathroom, I don’t believe for a second she could have saved him, unless she had advanced medical training and had called for the ambulance immediately. And even then, these are just the preliminary steps…no one can say what would have happened next with Elvis’s system. Do Elvis fans…and Elvis’s friends and family…support the notion that Elvis needed someone with him literally 24/7? They’d have to if they want to point the finger at anyone.
Where was the live-in nurse? At her regular job. So much for that idea.
Anyway, Stanley then says, again without any self-awareness, that he believes Elvis died that day “because it was Elvis’s time to die.” Wait a minute. Didn’t he just say that Elvis could have been saved…would have been saved…would still be alive…if Linda Thompson had been there? He blames Ginger, then says Linda would have saved him…and then says, “it was Elvis’s time to die.” Well, folks, if it’s your “time to die,” then no one can be blamed for your death, right?
The reality is that something very, very different happened this time, and my head spins when I even consider the notion that David Stanley is not acutely aware of this. Is he suggesting that this was as simple as a fall and that Elvis merely hit his head? Or he needed some oxygen? Or some cold water to the face? Stanley is literally saying that nothing different happened on August 16, 1977, except…we came to his aid too late…? This is completely nonsensical and absurd. Came to his aid too late? He is saying that had Ginger been there exactly at the moment of his collapse, Elvis would have lived (which is another baseless swipe at Ginger). The truth is, as I stated above, that something very, very different happened that day, and the only thing that would likely have helped Elvis was to be tele-ported to an Emergency Room within about 30 seconds.
Stanley has told us Linda Thompson would have saved Elvis, that Ginger Alden didn’t check on Elvis and broke “the cardinal rule,” and that “there was nothing [anyone] could do to change that.” But he just told us that there was something someone could have done: he said that Linda could have saved him. “Save him” is the “something,” and “Linda” is the “someone.” So which is it?
I want to emphasize…not to be too harsh but to drive home this very critical point…that all of the people around Elvis knew that a serious, life-threatening (or fatal) event could strike Elvis at any time…at any time…and yet his immediate care was passed off to Rick Stanley (no medical training), David Stanley (no medical training), Ginger Alden (no medical training), and a handful of other folks (including elderly relatives) who also lacked medical training. The only person on staff with medical training was Al Strada, but that doesn’t count for too much. And the live-in nurse certainly had medical training, but she wasn’t there.
Elvis was a ticking time bomb. Everyone knew it.
I respectfully appeal to Elvis fans to drop this “Linda Thompson would have saved Elvis” line of thinking (or line of attack, depending on how you look at it), because the entire idea is illogical and makes absolutely no sense when you break it down. No offense to Linda Thompson, it’s just that the logic fails. I get the impression that some fans think this is an easy, go-to attack when discussing what Ginger Alden did or did not do that day, but if you look at the facts there was likely no way anyone could have saved Elvis’s life. To suggest that Ginger did something wrong is grossly irresponsible, and to assert that Linda would have saved Elvis is a profoundly ill-formed and specious argument.