5 things I learned about Elvis Presley from Linda Thompson’s new book

bk-lindathompsonAlthough the Elvis Presley section in Linda Thompson’s new book only takes up about one-third of the pages (170 to be exact), this personal memoir is still a must-have for die-hard Elvis Presley fans. Linda Thompson, who was not only Elvis Presley’s girlfriend for 4-1/2 years but also the ex-wife of Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn), recounts some of the most notorious stories about Elvis in her new book called A Little Thing Called Life: From Elvis’s Graceland to Bruce Jenner’s Caitlyn & Songs in Between.

Linda was there when Elvis shot the TV out when he was watching singer Robert Goulet on screen. Linda recounts “It’s not that Elvis didn’t like Robert Goulet or his singing. It was just his particular mood on this particular night; he was not in the mood to hear Goulet’s voice.”

“It sounds like he’s trying too hard. Stiff. I just can’t stand watching this,” Elvis commented about Goulet’s operatic singing. Goulet was apparently singing “Camelot” or something similar, Linda recalled.
Presley asked Linda to leave the room as he pulled out his gun. Linda pleaded with him to just change the channel, but Presley insisted. Thompson quickly left and shut the door only to hear shots fired at the television.
“Okay, honey, you can come back in now!” Presley shouted, living up to his nickname of “Crazy” that was inscribed on the back of his diamond-studded ID bracelet.
Another scary story Linda shares is when she was almost shot by accident by Elvis while in the bathroom of Presley’s Vegas penthouse.

Yet somehow, A Little Thing Called Life maintains a positive, upbeat tone throughout these stories, appropriately matching the personality of the author.

Linda, a former Miss Tennessee and successful pop songwriter, started dating Elvis in July 1972, when Elvis was in the midst of a divorce with Priscilla. Their relationship ended in December 1976, only 8 months before Elvis died. At the time of their breakup, Presley had been seeing other women and then quickly jumped into a new relationship with Ginger Alden.

While many of the stories have been told before in other books by other people who knew Elvis, hearing first-hand from the person that was actually there makes a big difference.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Elvis that stood out:

1) Elvis went on extreme diets by eating only 500 calories a day

We all know Elvis would go on extreme diets as he got older to prepare for special public appearances. But how extreme? Linda says Elvis would eat only 500 calories a day, which is drastic considering the average man needs to eat roughly 2,200 – 2,400 calories per day to maintain a healthy body weight.

In early 1973, Elvis lost 8-10 pounds while preparing for his “Aloha from Hawaii” concert appearance and TV special.

“I’m amazed Elvis had the stamina to put on such a demanding show, given how few calories he was consuming at the time,” Linda commented.
An extreme low-calorie diet like this can be dangerous and should receive medical supervision according to health experts. Low-calorie diets can lead to major vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and a slower metabolism.
2) Linda would make Elvis wash his mouth out after his concerts
How would you feel watching your lover kiss countless numbers of other women every night? At Presley’s concerts in the 1970s, it was customary for Elvis to kiss a multitude of women on the mouth during his onstage performance.

“I understood this was part of his special relationship with his fans, but I had my limits,” Linda revealed.

After every show, Linda would make Elvis “brush his teeth, gargle and sanitize his lips” before she’d give him a kiss.
3) Elvis loved the color purple

Elvis’ belief in numerology is widely known, but according to Linda, he also had a strong belief in the power of colors. Presley believed that “all shades of purple emitted the highest spiritual vibrations” and associated the color to the “purity and power of God.”

This is why Linda says she felt comfortable wearing a lavendar silk dress at Elvis’ funeral, instead of the traditional black outfit.
4) Elvis wore every religious symbol around his neck

Fans are aware that Elvis used to wear not just a crucifix, but also a Star of David around his neck. Linda explains that he used to wear even more religious symbols including an Egyptian ankh, a lamb, and a crescent moon and star to represent Islam.

When asked why he wore virtually every religious symbol around his neck at once, Elvis replied, “I don’t want to miss heaven on a technicality.”
5) Elvis wore high collars to hide his “chicken” neck

Apparently Elvis’ parents used to tease him as a child that he had a scrawny chicken neck.

As a result, Presley sought out wearing high collars as much as possible. Funny how an insecurity could turn out to become a major fashion statement.

“It’s not because I think I’m cool, or I’m trying to be cool,” Elvis confessed to Linda. “It’s because I’m trying to hide my little chicken neck. The people don’t understand that.”

Linda is one of the last women in Elvis’ life to tell her story, following Ginger Alden’s book that came out in 2014. After Presley died, Thompson was a consultant on the 1981 TV movie, Elvis and The Beauty Queen, which starred Don Johnson as The King. In 2006, a close girlfriend of Linda’s, Jeanne LeMay Dumas, wrote her own memoir of her experiences knowing Linda and Elvis called Elvis, Linda and Me. Thompson gave her blessing and wrote the forward for the book.

Finally, it was so touching to hear in Linda’s own words how she felt when Elvis expressed his love for her: “When he told you he loved you, you never questioned it. I never felt more deeply loved in my life than in the moments when he spoke of his love for me… he had this way of loving so hard I could actually hear him grinding his teeth.”
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