The writer argued that Elvis Presley’s tragic death at the age of 42 was not caused by self-destruction and drug abuse, but instead was a tragic inevitability caused by bad genes in the singer’s family tree.
Myths and misconceptions continued to swirl around Elvis’ death for 45 years after the legendary performer was found unconscious in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion on August 16, 1977. Sun USA.
His official cause of death was a heart attack, a tragic fate long linked to the king’s overindulgence in prescription drugs and junk food.
These attributions go back to the news of the time, when reports about the star portrayed a bloated, lonely drug addict—a rock ‘n’ roll cliché who took too many pills and died long before his time.
But for the author and lifelong fan of Sally Hodel, the cause of Elvis’s untimely death is not so obvious.
Hodel argued that Elvis was always destined to die young. She attributed this to her belief that he might have had a number of defective genes, which may have been passed on to him by his maternal grandparents, Bob Smith and Doll Mansell, who were first cousins.
Hodel claimed that these supposed faulty genes were contributing factors to his various health problems, which he in turn treated with a cocktail of prescription drugs.
“This cousin marriage obviously causes a lot of problems,” Hodel suggested. Sun USA in a telephone interview from his home in Michigan.
“Elvis’ mom, Gladys, died very young at 46 and had three brothers who died at the same age from heart and lung problems. So it stops being a coincidence by the time it gets to Elvis,” she stated, “because there is so much going on in that family tree.”
For her book Elvis: destined to die youngHoedel researched the Presley family’s medical history and unearthed information that had not previously been reported.
Her interest in the subject was awakened after she noticed a number of similarities in the death of Elvis and his beloved mother Gladys, who died almost exactly 19 years before him on August 14, 1958.
Gladys, like her superstar son, died of heart failure. She was 46 years old, only four years older than Elvis, when he passed away.
In addition, both Elvis and Gladys experienced “the same four-year period of declining health” leading up to their deaths, according to Hodel, “which is interesting since they were on different medications.”
A study by Hodel found that Gladys had been seeing a cardiologist since at least 1956, and that same year she was hospitalized for two weeks with a mysterious illness.
Shortly before her death, Gladys was also diagnosed with hepatitis, the origin of which puzzled her doctors at the time. This condition, affecting the lungs and liver, was thought to be related to Gladys’s alcoholism.
Born and raised in extreme poverty in the far south, Gladys struggles to cope with her son’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune. “I wish we were poor again, really.”
Increasingly isolated and depressed as Elvis became a worldwide sensation, Gladys began to drink heavily and take diet pills — a downward spiral that many believe led to her hepatitis diagnosis and ultimately contributed to her death.
Gladys became seriously ill just a few months after Elvis was drafted into the US Army. The timing of her failing health has given rise to theories that Gladys drank herself to death, wracked with anxiety and suffering from a broken heart while her son was serving overseas in Germany.
Hödel believes that narrative is groundless “romanticism”.
“Gladys has always been portrayed as a woman whose son became famous, bought her a big house, and she just struggled to cope with it all and, in fact, died of a broken heart,” the author and historian says.
“But that’s not how it works. I think Elvis and Vernon [Elvis’ dad] both knew who knows how ill she was before leaving for the army.
“They were all so sad because I’m sure they knew they didn’t have much time left with her.”
Hodel argued, like Elvis, that Gladys’ causes of death and ill health lay higher in the family tree.
“The Presleys were incredibly secretive about their health,” Hoedel said, “but I was able to interview people like Nancy Clark, the daughter of Gladys, a cardiologist, who used to come to Presley’s house with her father.
“And she told me before her father passed away, he said that there was more to Gladys’s death than what he understood, because he was quoted a long time ago that it looked like hepatitis, but it wasn’t, and he didn’t I could understand what was going on.” was wrong with her.
Hodel believed that Gladys was actually suffering from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited and rarely diagnosed disease that can cause lung and liver disease.
“We know that Elvis had it because after his death, it turned out that he was an Alpha-1 carrier, so he must have come from somewhere,” she added.
“And it all leads back to Gladys’s parents,” she said.
In her book, Hodel explored the health problems of Elvis’ grandmother, Doll Smith, who is believed to have suffered from tuberculosis for over 30 years.
“Again, something that doesn’t make sense, but continues to be passed down the family tree and then throughout Elvis’ recorded history,” Hodel countered. “This book explains why TB was a misdiagnosis in the early 1900s.
“From there, with a cousin marriage, Gladys [may have] inherited two damaged genes and a more severe version of the disease.”
All of Gladys’ brothers also died of heart and liver problems at the age of forty and fifty.
According to Hoedel, faulty and defective genes were also passed on to Elvis.
The legendary crooner suffered from diseases of nine of the 11 body systems, including the heart, lungs and intestines. Hoedel claimed that five of these disease processes were present from birth. Hodel believed that Elvis was a man who fought every day to survive.
She suggested that his problem with prescription drugs may have been the result of Elvis and his notorious physician, George “Nick” Nicopolous, trying to treat his various congenital ailments rather than just mindless overuse.
“Elvis had various health problems, but he hid them so well that we now remember the excessive use of drugs,” said Hodel.
“He often took too much, and there are problems with that, but you have to ask why he took these pills at all.
“One of the reasons Elvis turned to medication was pain, he also suffered from insomnia all his life, but the reason he self-medicated was because he was trying to find a way to be Elvis Presley.”
According to Hodel, the more he toured, the more medication he needed to cope with various ailments.
But Elvis – a devoted son, husband, father and friend – couldn’t just stop performing. He had over 100 people on his payroll and relied on him to keep bringing in money to keep them all afloat.
Memphis mob member Lamar Fike told Hoedel that he begged Elvis to stop touring after the singer complained of fatigue and pain.
“I have to pay wages,” replied the King.
Speaking of the once-electric performer’s ill health in his later years, Elvis’ bodyguard Ed Parker described him as “a battery that’s been drained too many times.”
“His body could no longer hold the charge,” Parker said.
However, Elvis served as a soldier until his life ended on August 16, 1977.
Ultimately, as the title of her book suggests, Hoedel argued that Elvis was always destined to die young, and nothing could save the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll from the unfavorable genetic hand she believed he was faced with.
For the author, examining Elvis’ supposedly misguided genetic structure was an attempt to rehumanize the mythical figure of Presley, who she believes, in the years since his death, has become the cliché of a rock star who simply died alone in a bathtub. floor.
“There are so many myths and misconceptions about how Elvis lived, not just how he died, and it’s not fair to Elvis,” Hodel said.
“I think Elvis is the greatest victim of sensationalism and romanticism and both of them have kind of haunted and haunted his legacy and prevented him from being remembered as the incredibly important historical figure that he is.
“Elvis has changed our universe culturally like no other and he deserves to be treated like the Henry Ford or Thomas Edison of pop culture.
“But sex drugs and the rock and roll narrative are holding him back – he deserves a bigger place in American history.”