In her 2005 book, “Inside Graceland,” Nancy Rooks tells the story of Ginger Alden calling downstairs for help on August 16, 1977, but adds a few claims/details that she had not included in her first book 21 years earlier (thus changing the entire story). According to Rooks in 2005, when Ginger called for help from the upstairs bathroom, no one was available/present to assist, so Rooks herself went upstairs to assess the situation. We will discuss why she may have done this below. While there is ample room for debate as to whether this part of the story actually happened, the more important question, in my view, is why this story was added/changed at all, and especially this late in the game. Let’s start from the moment Rooks received the call from Ginger, as described in her 2005 book:
Here, Rooks states that her first reaction was to go upstairs and check what was happening. Right out of the gate, then, we have a huge question: Why? Why on earth was this the first reaction she had, given that she knew that something serious was wrong with Elvis, and that there was absolutely nothing she could have done to assist him? This would be like hearing your house is on fire, running 2 blocks down the street to look at your house burning (to “see what was wrong”) and then calling the fire department. You already know the house is on fire, and if you are not a firefighter and you are lacking the training and equipment to put the fire out, then there’s no reason to go check on the house. You have already been told it’s on fire.
Rooks writes that she came to the black padded doors on the left side of the hallway after entering the upstairs area (above, from “This Is Elvis”), but because these doors were closed she proceeded down the hall to the right. This would allow her to enter the bathroom area from the wardrobe room on the NW corner of the house. Why would the doors being closed have dissuaded Rooks from entering the room, though? She already knew there was an emergency, and thus any notion of invading Elvis’s privacy was not a concern. After all, she had just received a call alerting her to a serious medical emergency; certainly there was no issue with entering Elvis’s bedroom through the office doors and then the bedroom doors. Further, taking this circuitous route served no purpose and added what could have been crucial seconds (minutes?). That is, Rooks was simply wasting time taking this roundabout path to the bathroom area, thus adding even more time to this unnecessary excursion.
[In Ginger’s 2014 book, she states that when she called downstairs and asked Nancy which aide was on duty, Nancy replied, “Al Strada.” Ginger then met Al in the hallway moments later as he arrived upstairs (location seen above). If Ginger went to the hallway right after she and Nancy spoke on the phone, how did Nancy get down the hallway without Ginger seeing her?]
Again, privacy would not have been a concern in the middle of a serious medical crisis. Rooks could (and should) have entered Elvis’s bedroom using the quickest available route. Also note that this is the second time Rooks says she walked “slowly.”
Another important question must be asked here: Rooks states that upon entering the wardrobe room, she saw nothing “out of the ordinary,” but what exactly was she expecting to see in this room? Had Ginger simply said that Elvis was upstairs, somewhere, and that in her narrative Rooks is just randomly walking around looking for him? Why did she start in the wardrobe room? Why not the bedroom, or the bathroom? She then nears the bathroom entrance area and says that she was unsure of what she was looking for. Again, didn’t Ginger call from the bedroom suite and tell Rooks that Elvis had been stricken and was in need of assistance in the immediate vicinity? Or is Rooks suggesting that Ginger called for help but didn’t bother to say where Elvis was? (When Rooks says that she didn’t want to enter through the padded black doors she is clearly indicating that she knew [or believed] that Elvis was in that part of the house, through those doors.)
This is where things go a bit off the rails. At 2:20pm+ on August 16, 1977, according to this account from Nancy Rooks, and what we (supposedly) know from other accounts, the only two active people in the upstairs area would have been Nancy Rooks and Ginger Alden. Thus the area would have been very quiet. There was no other reported activity in the immediate vicinity, nor in that general part of the house. So what does Rooks do? She speaks quietly, addressing Elvis from the adjoining room, as she had not even entered the bathroom yet. Does this make any sense? Rooks describes standing in the wardrobe room, without even establishing a visual on Elvis, and quietly asking Elvis if he is OK. But she already knew he was not OK; she had been informed about 90-120 seconds earlier that Elvis was having a serious medical crisis. What purpose, then, did this soft-spoken, distant inquiry serve?
Rooks says she then proceeded to the point that she was not in the bathroom, but could see into the bathroom, via a mirror that was mounted on the wall. So, again, she has not entered the bathroom. Recall that Rooks said she went upstairs to “see what was wrong.” Is this what Rooks is describing, “seeing what was wrong”? No, she is simply looking into a room via a mirror…and doing nothing. She did not even call for Ginger.
Since Rooks is looking into the bathroom from the north side (opposite the bedroom entrance), she was seeing Elvis’s body from the back, which would have precluded any visual of Elvis’s face (according to reports on the position of the body). Small point, sure, but worth noting.
Rooks now tells us that she noticed the bathroom door leading into the bedroom was closed enough to the point that Rooks could not see inside the bedroom, where she says Ginger was “apparently” located. This suggests that Ginger had entered the bathroom, called downstairs for assistance (using either the bathroom phone or the bedroom phone, jury is still out on that question), and then left Elvis alone in the bathroom and partially closed the door. A man is literally lying on the floor, dead or near death, and Rooks is telling us that the person who discovered the body…is nowhere to be found. Really? Why didn’t Rooks call for Ginger? Why didn’t Rooks go into the bathroom to actually check on Elvis, which is what she initially said she was doing (as her “first reaction”)? Logic suggests that Ginger may have been at the bedroom and/or office door waiting for Rooks (or Strada, or someone) to come help, not waiting in the bathroom for Rooks to arrive via the opposite side entrance.
And, again, she did not even enter the bathroom, even though she says she went upstairs to “see what was wrong.”
“Not knowing exactly what I should do” and “[not knowing] first aid,” Rooks then runs back downstairs, and upon arriving back in the kitchen area she encounters Al Strada, who, she says, has just returned from running errands. Now, not to put too fine a point on this, but “not knowing exactly what to do” and “not knowing first aid” should have been the guidelines Rooks followed at the time of the emergency call, and should have helped her to take a more informed and effective approach to the situation. It’s not like Rooks just suddenly realized as she looked at Elvis’s body in the mirror, “Oh, rats, I don’t know first aid!”
[To emphasize the point here: “The best thing for me to do would be to go and get help” says the person who just wasted 2-4 minutes. The fact is, “the best thing for [Rooks] to do,” would have been to get help when she got the emergency call.]
What is bizarre about this trip upstairs that Rooks now claims (since 2005) to have taken that day is that it makes absolutely no sense, and it is very odd that she waited so many years to reveal this part of her story. Is she lying? The thing about lying is, you’ve gotta have some intent to lie, and you’ve gotta have some sort of pay-off for telling the lie. People lie to achieve an end. If Rooks is lying about this, what is the pay-off? What does she gain by telling this story, other than revealing that she was ill-prepared to handle an emergency?
It is also noteworthy that Ginger Alden was upstairs during this time period, and would have been waiting for someone to assist her. Rooks claims that when she could not understand what Ginger was saying on the phone, she (Rooks) simply hung up the phone and ran upstairs. There is no indication that she told Ginger that she was on her way up to help, or to “see what was wrong,” so at that point Ginger was under the impression that no one was available to help Elvis. Given that Rooks left Ginger totally in the dark, it would have made sense for Rooks to call out for Ginger in the upstairs area (hallway, wardrobe room, or leading into the bathroom). But Rooks didn’t do this. Why not? This account from Rooks totally removes Ginger from the story. Why did Rooks construct the story this way? Why did Rooks speak quietly? Why did Rooks not enter the bathroom? Why did Rooks not enter the bedroom through the double doors leading from the office? Why did Rooks take a route to the bathroom where Ginger would logically not have seen her? Why did Rooks begin her search in the least likely place for Elvis and Ginger to have been? All the actions Rooks allegedly took during this brief time period suggest that she did not want to be seen, and that she did not attempt to join Ginger in any sort of effort to assist Elvis. She literally went upstairs after hanging up the phone, sneaked down the hallway, sneaked into Elvis’s wardrobe room, tip-toed silently up to the area leading into the bathroom (but not entering the bathroom itself), quietly asked Elvis if he was OK (didn’t wanna bother anyone by talking too loud, right?), then went back downstairs without encountering (or seeking out) Ginger.
If this story is true, what is the point?
If this story is false, what is the point?
Why would Nancy Rooks have kept this story to herself all these years, going so far as to directly contradict her own story from her 1984 book? In that account, Rooks writes:
“It was then I knew that whatever it was, it was bad. I hung up the phone and ran for help. I saw one of the bodyguards coming in the side door. I quickly told him to go upstairs and see what was going on; in a few seconds he was back downstairs. ‘Nancy,’ he said, ‘I need some help.'”
It is at this point in her 1984 account that Rooks should have described going upstairs, walking slowly into the wardrobe room, quietly asking Elvis if he was OK, and then going back downstairs. But she doesn’t tell that story. Why not? Read the 1984 account again (above), and then read the 2005 account again:
Which is it…why do these accounts not match? In her 1984 account, Rooks immediately ran for help. She didn’t do that in her 2005 account. In 1984, Rooks saw one of the bodyguards coming in the side door, but she said that this happened later in the 2005 account. In 1984 Rooks instructed the bodyguard to go upstairs to “see what was going on,” but in 2005, Rooks already knew what was going on by the time she encountered Al Strada. So the incongruent statements add up.
And why hasn’t Ginger Alden ever said that Al Strada left the bathroom area and went back downstairs? In her 1984 book, this is what Nancy Rooks claims happened.
And why hasn’t Nancy Rooks explained why her 1984 account is so different than her 2005 account? She has to know that the two accounts contradict each other.
Finally, Ginger Alden has never made any claim that there was a delay in Al Strada’s arrival upstairs to assist Elvis. If Nancy Rooks had handled this situation in the manner she now claims, it is reasonable to conclude that Ginger would have asked, of Rooks directly and in public discussion, “Where were you [Rooks] after I called downstairs?” Or, “What took so long?” After all, there would have been a delay of at least a few minutes for Rooks to have traveled this route and taken the actions she describes, and then to have alerted Strada only after having returned to the kitchen. How long would all this have taken? Two minutes? Three minutes? Four minutes? Is Rooks saying that she made Ginger wait 2-4 minutes for help, and over 43 years Ginger has never mentioned this delay? This would have been an extremely lengthy (and excruciating) wait for Ginger, had she been simply standing there waiting for assistance.
Again, something important to keep in mind: For Nancy Rooks’s upstairs excursion story to be true, as described in her 2005 book, there had to have been a 2-4-minute delay in someone coming upstairs to attend to Elvis.