Linda Thompson Interview - by Alanna Nash for the Elvis Information Network
Elvis Presley and Linda Thompson. Larry King: You .. Larry King: This is your first relationship, your first sexual, your first affair, you're in love. Six months after Priscilla left, Presley dated beauty queen Linda Thompson. Although she was supposedly a. Linda Thompson revealed in her new memoir that Elvis Presley respected her virginity until she was ready to consummate their relationship.
I mean, you were going to go -- did you take separate rooms in Vegas? As a matter of fact, Larry. You knew something was going to happen? I figured something was amiss. But, you know, he was still a gentleman. We'll get to that. What was the Presley plane like? Well, I flew commercially at that point.
He was in Los Angeles. And go to his opening? Went to his opening. Well, he was there for rehearsal, so I was there for two weeks of rehearsals and then for the opening. And he sent me to a store called Suzy Cream Cheese and she made all these outrageous gowns. And, you know, I had my college clothes, my little pleats and, you know, my little innocent clothes. And he sent me over to Suzy Cream Cheese and she outfitted me appropriately.
This maybe hard to deal with, but what was the first night like with Elvis? Well, it was a long time I mean, here's this young girl who's a fan of his, who's smitten with him, is obviously in love or certainly something's going on, right? Infatuation might be a better word.
You can't be in love, you don't know him that well, right, or were you in love? He obviously with you. He's trying -- OK, what was it like? You know, when I first arrived in Las Vegas and he said here's our room, and I said, you know, I really would prefer to have my own room. And he said, honey, you can trust me. We can be here together. We can get to know each other very well, so don't worry about intimacy too quickly. And you bought that? And rightly so because he was a man of his word.
He was not intimate right away? It was months before we became intimate. So, where did you -- how did you sleep that night? Together, but, you know, cuddling. And, you know, he was just -- he was a man of his word. It took a few months before we Did you begin to wonder? No, not at all. I just knew it was up to me, whenever I said I was ready. And I wanted to establish his feelings for me because that was important to me.
I had obviously maintained my virginity for as many years as I had. And it was important to me So you were still a virgin? So it was important to me to make it right. Where did it happen? Larry, you're getting awfully personal. Was it in Vegas?
No, I'm not going to get a description. A presidential suite at the Las Vegas Hilton. Did you go watch his show every night? Weren't a lot of people, paparazzi, wondering who you were? You know, he dedicated songs to me and Oh, so he went public with it? What was it like to be Elvis' girlfriend? It was like being with Prince Charming on many levels, because he was like Santa Claus every day. He was inordinately generous of spirit.
I have heard that. And also of material wealth. He was a big giver, right? He derived much more pleasure from giving than receiving. You know, his life was lived very biblically. You know, he really followed the bible and he also was on a spiritual quest to find out how other people of other faiths lived their lives. And he used to wear an Egyptian ankh, a star of David and a crucifix around his neck. And when people would say are you confused, he would say, no, not at all.
I just don't want to miss heaven on a technicality. So, he embraced all faiths and he was extraordinarily generous. So, in some ways, it was like living with a saint and being with Prince Charming and Santa Claus every day.
I never met anyone in the business who knew him who didn't like him. And the key there is who knew him. You know, there are a lot of people to say disparaging things about him who didn't really know him, and they might have known just, you know, just a little minuscule little modicum of knowledge about him.
And they expound upon that and make it sound as if they did know him. But people who truly knew him and knew his spirit and knew his heart won't have anything bad to say because he was well intended. Did you live together? We lived together for four-and-a-half years. Now, you're a good Southern girl.
This is your first relationship, your first sexual, your first affair, you're in love. Why didn't you get married? We talked about marriage often. We talked about having children too. By the time I reconciled in my mind that this was something that I didn't want to do, he was ready. I was ready more in the beginning. You wanted to get married earlier? He didn't -- why, because he had been shell shocked?
I think when he was going through a divorce. He had been separated for seven months when I met him. Did you get to see his daughter? I met Lisa right away. I have known Lisa since she was four years old. She was a wonderful little girl.
She was very embracing and a little shy but I've always loved children and we got on really well. The first time I ever saw her was at the Monovale house and I was out by the pool. She kind of timidly came around and said hi. We started talking and we became really close. I loved being with her. You know, Elvis had a real childlike spirit and I have too. I like to do childlike things and to sometimes get down to a child's level. She and I became very close.
Still know her very well, and she's Did you meet Priscilla, too? But only a couple of times. Priscilla was really not on the scene as much as people might assume. But Lisa Marie was. Elvis would send his bodyguards to pick her up. Was he a good father? He adored his little girl. If love is any measure, and I believe that it is, I believe that's all there is You wanted to get married?.
And then when he wanted to get married, why didn't you? Because I realized that I didn't want to live my life as a vampire. We were awake all night, sleeping all day. I didn't want to bring more children into the world who would have to compromise their hours and the way they lived. You're smart enough to know that, even though you're smitten? Well, this is after a few years.
But up all night? Literally up all night. Well, not just when he was doing shows. This was back at Graceland.
Wherever we were, Palm Springs. Why is it -- what would he do all night? Well, he lived his life out of the public eye, so when everybody else was up going to work and doing whatever they did in the daytime, we were sleeping.
And then we would wake up at 9: And after a few years Have breakfast at 9: Oh, have breakfast at 9: Be up all night, rent movie theaters, watch movies, do whatever we did all night. And the next morning He was loyal to his friends right?
Was he going through weight cycles then? Yes, he always battled his weight. I mean, he loved to eat. We structure our social life around that.
Linda Thompson recalls loving Elvis and seeing Bruce in a dress | Page Six
Did it bother him when he got heavy? It did bother him. And the criticism bothered him. He was a very sensitive, acutely sensitive person to other people's perceptions of him. And, you know, he just -- it did hurt his feelings a lot. Were you inseparable those four years?
Would you say you didn't see other guys, he didn't see other girls? I certainly didn't see any other guys. Do you think he saw other girls? I know he saw other girls.
Not the first year. The first year we were together, I think he broke his world record for having been faithful. How do you know he did after that? I know that he didn't because we were together the first year days for that first year, 24 hours a day. And after that, you know, word -- he couldn't do much without it being public knowledge. And certainly I was no dummy. Did you have fights? We had arguments about it. And again, I tried to reconcile in my mind, this is Elvis Presley.
I understand that he is secluded from the rest of the world, and it's not all about sex. It's not all about being physically unfaithful to me. He wanted to be surrounded with other people who might bring different ideas into his life. Did he defend it or He apologized for it when he was caught.
Most of the time he denied it. Then he apologized profusely and said, you're the only person I love and nobody ever compares to you. And every time I have an indiscretion, it just makes me realize how much more you mean to me. And you forgave him? And I would always forgive him. First television show he ever did was Tommy Dorsey's summer showthe Jackie Gleason replacement. Gleason told him, you are going to be a major star.
Go out to restaurants. Go public, because if you hide, you gonna be the loneliest guy. I never knew that. Intrinsically lonely at heart. Because, yes, he was. And he used to always say, I'm intensely lonely at heart. He wouldn't go out of his room, right? No, we never went out. I mean, the world came to him, literally. He didn't go out. The Beatles came to him. The Beatleseverybody came to him. You know, everyone came to him. Barbra Streisand came to him, everybody who wanted to have an audience with him came to him.
He always gave the public everything, right? He gave a performance. He never threw away shows. He never meant to throw away a show. There might have been times when he didn't give all he had because he wasn't feeling well, but absolutely he put his heart and soul into it, and he loved his fans, loved his fans. What about the drugs? You know, Elvis fooled himself into thinking he didn't have a drug problem because everything that he took was by prescription.
You mean he never did cocaine? Not when he was with me. So like he would take what? He didn't even drink, Larry. He didn't even drink alcohol. So everything that he took was by prescription. How did you live with that? It was very difficult, because I'm very -- have always been anti-drug and was never So you never got hooked on any of it?
You know what's interesting, because people say how could you avoid taking drugs. And I said what was the seduction to watch someone self-destruct was a great lesson in life as to -- I'd never want to do that.
I would never have any Did he ever try to stop? He did a few times. Did he ever go anywhere to get help?Linda Thompson Talks About Elvis Presley
We went to the Baptist Hospital together, and there were a couple of doctors there who actually intervened and they actually helped him tremendously, helped him to withdraw from some of the more addictive drugs. I stayed in the hospital with him. I had a hospital bed right next to him. He was in the hospital twice when I was with him. He was under his own name. He got calls from Frank Sinatra and President Nixon.
He would have me go to the phone and say, 'is this really President Nixon? How do I know it's really you? Because he doesn't want to talk unless it's really you. But he insisted that I have a hospital bed right next to him, and would raise it and lower it as he did his. What was life like with someone -- how many cars did he have? Did he drive a lot? He loved Cadillacs and Lincoln He did like to drive. Late at night, though, right? You know, he would drive late at night. So we drove down and, you know, didn't make it from the car even halfway across the parking lot before people were chasing us.
What was his greatness? Oh, he revolutionized music. You know, he was this young kid from abject poverty who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, and you know, was an amalgamation of lots of different styles of music, from black gospel to, you know, hillbilly. A lot of people when they heard him thought he was black.
Anita Wood lived at Graceland for a time, though the star, according to his own words, did not have sex with her. Priscilla was 14 years old when Elvis met her. For a long time he would not have sex with them, whom he described as 'jail bait.
Taylor has stated that "Elvis's closest female relationships were usually with young girls of around 13 or 14, ending as they reached late teens. He didn't have sex with these young girls, but had pajama parties, pillow fights and indulged in 'girl talk', just as he did with Gladys. The author says that Presley was overly attached to his mother and could not relate normally to mature women; presumably, Presley sought out very young girls because he felt threatened by women who were older.
According to her account,  the singer told her that they had to wait until they were married before having intercourse. He said, "I'm not saying we can't do other things. It's just the actual encounter. I want to save it. However, this claim is questioned by Suzanne Finstad. In her book, Elvis and MePriscilla describes her daily life with her husband. She also says that Presley became fascinated with the occult and metaphysical phenomena and an addict to prescription drugs, which dramatically changed his personality from playful to being passive and introverted.
The Presleys separated on February 23,and divorced on October 9,agreeing to share custody of their daughter. When Priscilla left him for her karate teacher Mike Stone, the singer's "ego was damaged beyond repair. Considering Presley's status as a universal sex symbol According to her account, he forced himself upon her; "'This is how a real man makes love to a woman,' he said.
She became a mother at It is said that Elvis never made love to her again after the birth of his daughter, and would never have sex with a woman who had had a baby. He did not remarry after his divorce from Priscilla and did not have any more children. Although she was supposedly a virgin when they met, it has been claimed that they "started with marathon love-making sessions in Vegas hotel rooms. She shared Presley's passion for gospel music and higher religious understanding, moved into Graceland in August and remained the singer's main girlfriend for nearly four and a half years.
There was a lot of heartache and he exhibited a lot of self-destructive behaviourwhich was very difficult for me, you know, watching someone I loved so much destroy himself.
Gerald Marzorati says that Elvis "couldn't go anywhere else without a phalanx of boyhood friends. Those guys were always around Sometimes they would hang out with Sammy Davis, Jr. Nick Adams and his gang came by the suite all the time, not to mention the eccentric actor Billy Murphy When bullets were apparently fired at Elvis in Las Vegas, the bodyguards threw themselves in front of Elvis, forming a shield to protect him. The only one I remember was Nick Adams, the actor. Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley, p.
Elvis The 1 Hits: The Secret History of the Classics, p. Elvis and Gladys, p. The s' Most Wanted: Judy Spreckels also came all the way to Memphis to be with Elvis for the Funeral [,] this was very kind of her also. And I know Elvis did appreciate this so very much. Elvis and Gladysp. For interviews with teachers and former fellow students at Milam Junior High school in Tupelo, Mississippi, see Dundy, p.
A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession, p. He tried to stop a few times. We went to the Baptist Hospital together, and there were a couple of doctors there who actually intervened and they actually helped him tremendously, helped him to withdraw from some of the more addictive drugs. I stayed in the hospital with him.
I had a hospital bed right next to him. He was in the hospital twice when I was with him. He got calls from Frank Sinatra and President Nixon.
He would have me go to the phone and say, "Is this really President Nixon? Is this really Frank Sinatra? How do I know it's really you? Because he doesn't want to talk unless it's really you. So we had some interesting moments. But he insisted that I have a hospital bed right next to him, and would raise it and lower it as he did his. What was life like with Elvis, how many cars did he have? Who could count, he loved Cadillacs and Lincolns and he did like to drive.
You know, he would drive late at night. So we drove down and, you know, didn't make it from the car even halfway across the parking lot before people were chasing us. What was his greatness? Oh, he revolutionized music. You know, he was this young kid from abject poverty who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, and you know, was an amalgamation of lots of different styles of music, from black gospel to, you know, hillbilly.
Elvis grew up with black people. In fact, in Tupelo, Mississippi, you know, he was impoverished. And so he had a tremendous kinship, you know. Elvis was a tremendous fan of Martin Luther King. We used to listen to his speeches over and over. And the cadence and the mellifluous tone of Martin Luther King's voice was so inspirational that we would literally -- because we were up all night, I told you, we looked for things to do.
How Lisa Marie Presley Told Linda Thompson Elvis Presley Had Died | catchsomeair.us
Elvis was absolutely a civil rights person at heart. What was his greatness musically? Why did the Beatles love him so much? Because he was an innovator. You know, Elvis changed not only music but fashion, sexual morals, just the thrust of the whole music industry.
You know, he had gospel groups like the Harmonizing Four. He was a good guitarist, not a great guitarist, but a good guitarist. He was a great natural musician. He played guitar, he played piano. We used to sit around at Graceland, the two of us, and he would play piano. Did he ever sing old standards? And he would sing my old sorority songs. I told him a lot of my sorority songs.
He'd sing harmony with me, he'd allow me to sing lead. How good an entertainer was he? And I saw everybody in the years that I was with him. He was the best entertainer I ever saw on stage. Elvis had an electricity. You know, when Elvis came out on stage, it became electric. And the way people responded to him was such that, you know, I never saw that kind of response toward any other performer.
You know, I went to every show, and he used to say to me, "Honey, you don't have to go to every show. You know, you can sit this one out or you can go see Tom Jones, or you could go see this or that".
I said, no, I don't want to miss anything. And we were so connected. We were just so viscerally connected that I would sit -- no matter how many shows I saw, I would sit and pull for him to make every note and just respond as if it were the first time I had seen the show. I really, really loved it. Did you ever write for him? You know, I wrote poetry for him all the time. And in my ignorance, I never would allow him to let anyone put it to music and record it, because my aspiration then was not to be a songwriter.
It was maybe to publish a book of poetry one day, coupled with photographs that I had taken. And so I was very naive and ignorant about publishing and royalties and residuals, which is kind of sweet. He probably loved me for it. But I wish I hadn't been so ignorant. How much of a sense of humour did Elvis have? Raucous, rowdy, irreverent, inane.
Great sense of humour. He laughed from his toenails. What about his close friends, the Memphis Mafia, and Elvis? Elvis was loyal to everyone that he loved. And ironically enough, and oddly enough, I never felt that he was unfaithful to me emotionally. I felt that he loved me deeply and was never unfaithful to that love.
He might have been physically unfaithful a few times, but I always, always felt loved by him. So he was a very faithful, loyal human being. And I mean, he'd get in the trench with you if he were your friend. He needed them and they needed him, absolutely. And they were loyal to him for many, many years. And they loved Elvis. And they had a great camaraderie and a boyish kind of antic, you know, went on all the time when they were together.
They used to set off fireworks. Some of them were friends from childhood like Red West. Red defended him in a near bathroom brawl where some guys -- some bullies came in and were going to cut Elvis' hair and beat him up. Why did you break up in the end? Well, after four-and-a-half years of the yo-yo back and forth of other women, up-all-night, sleeping all day, the drug abuse, you know, it was too much. I just realized that I probably was never gonna be able to help him the way I wanted to help him.
There was no Betty Ford Center then. There was no place for him to go, and he kept falling back into this prescription drug dilemma. How did you handle it? Elvis helped me actually. I have brought the Jet Star in to take you back".
And, you know, deducing that he was not going to bring the plane in just for me, I figured he brought another girl in from Memphis, and that was his way of saying, you know, there's another girl here, but you know, you want to go back to Memphis for a few days. He was playing the Cow Palace. And I said yes, that's fine. I'll go back to Memphis, but I'm sure you've brought someone else to be with. Elvis said"Oh, no, honey, I would never do that".
The last time I saw Elvis alive he looked me in the eye and said, "I want you to know something, honey, before you leave. No matter what you ever hear, no matter what everybody ever tells you, I just want you to know that I love you.
I don't love anyone else. There's no other girl here, and you're the one I love. But we spoke after that. I wrote him a letter. This was late November, and I wrote him a letter just before Christmas, and he died in August.
He died eight months after we broke up. What did you say? Just that I have known the pain of too much tenderness. That he would always remain the love of my life, but I never wanted to love that fully and completely without reservation again. Where were you when he died? I was in Los Angeles at my apartment. My phone rang, and it was Lisa Marie, who was only nine years old at the time, and she used to call me from time to time because we were very close.
As I said, I loved her a lot then. I love her a lot now. And she said, Linda, it's Lisa. I said, I know who you are, little goobernickel. But she had this desperate tone in her voice, and I thought he was playing. I thought maybe she was just out of breath. She said, my daddy's dead. And I threw the phone in the air. I just threw the phone away.
I said, no, no, he's not. And then I looked at the phone on the ground and I thought, here's this little 9-year-old angel who has the presence of mind to call me long distance directly. I have got to pick up this phone. I have got to say something to her that's gonna help her.
So I pick up the phone. I say, honey, are you sure he's not just going to the hospital and he's not just having an episode or a problem, a breathing problem? They told me, he's dead.
So I just started trying to say things to her to comfort her. Like your daddy loves you so much. You'll always have that love, and that doesn't die. And my brother who was working for Elvis took the phone from Lisa and said, Linda, you have to come home. I was the only apartment in my building that had no power. And I lit candles all over the apartment just to pack, just to get ready to go back to Memphis.
I went outside, and I said has everybody lost power? No, just your apartment, which I thought was a little strange. And my friends were coming over to console me, and they said, oh, you're lighting candles for Elvis. And I said, well, actually, no, I'm trying to see to pack. What was the funeral like for you? It was very difficult for me. Priscilla was there, and his last girlfriend Ginger was there, and his family members were there, and of course Lisa and my family was there and his father.
It's kind of crazy. My mother went to the funeral. We were in the third car behind the hearse. We were there all day as the body lay in state. We were there all night. We were with the family. My family is very close to his family.
Elvis Presley 'was my first love,' says former Miss Tennessee Linda Thompson
And my mother saw him lying in state. My mother saw him being buried, being put in the mausoleum. You know, I was shocked, yes. You're never ready, no matter -- even if you have an elderly parent.
Didn't you save Elvis' life at one point? Many times, yes by doing any number of things. So it was not a surprising occurrence, because I had to reconcile that in my mind when I left. Probably no one is going to be stupid enough really to take care of him as selflessly as I did for so many years and to keep him alive at my own expense. And didn't Elvis almost shoot you once? He was a gun aficionado, and he had a collection of guns always around him. And we were in the Las Vegas Hilton and he was just lying down across the sofa and there was this big bullseye that they used to promote his concerts.
And he just decided he would try to hit the bullseyes, and he was a good marksman, so he did. But he forgot that my dressing area was just behind this bullseye. And I'm just getting out of the shower and I hear ping, ping, ping, crash. And I look and my dressing room door is shattered, and I open it and the doors outside are shattered. Then this guy who worked for him came in and said, "Linda, are you OK?