THE DEATH OF ELVIS: What Really Happened by Charles C. & James P. Cole Thompson

THE DEATH OF ELVIS: What Really Happened

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A grimly fascinating, meticulous report on what--and who--really killed the King of Rock 'n' Roll, by two newsmen who dug into that morbid subject for ABC's 20/20 program in the late 70's. Anyone who saw the highly rated 1979 20/20 broadcast or who thinks, as almost everyone does, that Elvis died of drugs won't be surprised by the authors' conclusion here: that the singer died ""from polypharmacy, an accidental overdose of multiple drugs,"" including toxic or near-toxic levels of Quaaludes, Valium, Placidyl, and codeine. So why this book? Well, for those who care, it sets to rest three rampant rumors about Elvis's demise: that he was murdered, that he had bone cancer, and that he deliberately committed suicide--a notion touted by Elvis biographer Albert Goldman in a recent Life cover story and one that Thompson (who's now with CBS's 60 Minutes) and Cole (a newspaperman who's Thompson's brother-in-law) shred through careful factual analysis. More importantly, this well-documented brief lays bare a massive medical cover-up wherein a host of Memphis figures, from the local medical examiner to Elvis's pill-dispensing physician and family and friends, sustained the myth that the entertainer died of heart complications. To explain the evolution and unveiling of that cover-up, Thompson and Cole spend many pages in an intriguing if somewhat plodding exposition of their late-70's sleuthing; what grips like cold steel bands, however, is their graphic snip-by-cut reconstruction of Elvis's autopsy. And what remains is a tragic sense of waste, as the authors detail how nearly everyone in contact with Elvis saw his death coming but did nothing, so great was their awe and fear. First-rate medical sleuthing, and a memorable cautionary tale, though non-Elvis fans may find much of the intricate detail akin to hourly weather reports about a tempest in a teapot.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Delacorte