In recent months, since the release of the (not-really-a-) biopic, “ELVIS,” I have seen a number of articles about Linda Thompson and her position on the film, mainly addressing the accuracy of the film, and the lack of any mention of her in it. One main point that she makes in these articles is that she saved Elvis’s life on several occasions, and because of this she deserves a place in the film. Or something like that. How saving Elvis’s life is relevant to Luhrmann’s story is not clear. Below are the key points Thompson makes (excerpt from The Daily Express article, the contents of which have appeared in several other articles in recent months):

Linda pointed out that, whenever he would fall ill before his death, she would be the person to help him out. She said: “Every time Elvis was hospitalised, I’d share his room … The film showed his ex-wife, Priscilla, at his bedside. She never even visited him, let alone stayed.”

Linda added: “Those last years, I saved his life about ten to 12 times.” She also criticised how Priscilla was portrayed in the movie.

Let’s address the easy one first: Priscilla was not in a relationship with Elvis during any of his 1973-1976 hospitalizations, so it makes sense that she would not visit him. (It likewise makes sense that Linda Thompson would not visit Elvis when he was in the hospital in 1977, since their relationship had ended the previous year.) The question must be asked as to whether the truth behind these hospitalizations was revealed to Priscilla, or whether she was told Elvis was suffering from fatigue, flu, or any of the other cover stories they used. But lacking a serious health emergency, I wouldn’t expect Priscilla to travel from Los Angeles to Memphis to visit with Elvis for a day or two.

The question of whether Priscilla would stay in Elvis’s room with him…given their divorce and his relationship with Linda…seems a bit silly.

Now, let’s look at this statement:

“Those last years, I saved his life about ten to twelve times.”

In the Elvis World fan community, this is part of the reason Linda Thompson has been hailed as a Saint, because she supposedly “saved” Elvis’s life a number of times.

Linda Thompson: “I saved Elvis’s life ten to twelve times.”

Elvis fans: “All Hail Saint Linda!”

But let’s take it a few hypothetical steps further:

Q: Linda, why did you have to save Elvis life so many times?

LT: Because he was addicted to drugs and could not function.

Q: OK, great, so you saved his life a few times, as anyone would do. But what did you do to help him with the drug addiction?

LT: Nothing.

So, why did Linda find herself in the position of saving Elvis’s life on numerous occasions?

Because he was so incapacitated by drugs that he was unable to function normally. Unfortunately, the oft-mentioned story of Linda Thompson’s life-saving efforts tells of the time (times?) Elvis passed out from drugs and his face landed in a bowl of chicken soup.

Why did this kind of thing keep happening?

Because no one took any steps to help him.


When someone says, “I saved my boyfriend’s life when he passed out in a bowl of chicken soup,” there are two parts to the claim. The first part is:

“I saved my boyfriend’s life…”

This is the part that elevated Linda Thompson to the status of Saint in Elvis World, and the point at which Elvis fans stop reading. But the far more important part of the claim is this:

“…when he passed out in a bowl of chicken soup.”

Read that again.

“…when he passed out in a bowl of chicken soup.”

The fans love the “Linda saved Elvis!” part of the story, but they ignore the “passed out in a bowl of chicken soup” part of the story. Ergo, Sainthood.

So, here is a reality check:

If your boyfriend…or friend…or family member…is passing out in a bowl of chicken soup on a regular basis…or even once…and experiencing other serious medical crises so often that you have to save his life “ten to twelve times” over a ~2-year period, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. If a drug addict finds himself in a position of needing his life saved on a regular basis, the people around him are doing him a disservice by just “saving his life” time and time again, if they then do nothing to help him and simply wait for the next emergency.

There are no heroes here. No saviors. No Saints. No one who should be patting herself on the back boasting about saving her boyfriend’s life. Instead, she, and many others, should be explaining why there was such an epic failure of care by family and friends and medical/health support, that a man addicted to drugs would find himself face down in a bowl of chicken soup.