Just like millions around the world, Joanna Lumley grew up listening to the incredible music of Elvis Presley. In fact, just a couple of years ago, the 75-year-old made a documentary about The King and met Priscilla Presley at Graceland. The former Bond girl and Ab Fab star is more interested in the younger Elvis but remembers the shock of his untimely death.
Speaking with the Radio Times around the time of her Elvis Presley documentary, Lumley said: “I’m not interested in the last two years of his life when he over-ate and was hooked on prescription pills, and he looked ill, sad and revolting.
“Those times weren’t really Elvis. People didn’t really know what he was going through.”
Elvis was just 42-year-old when he died of a heart attack at Graceland on August 16, 1977.
At the time, Lumley was shooting The Avengers in Canada and was “appalled” by how the press reported his passing.
Sally told us: “I’ve always been an Elvis fan and I’ve always had those questions like why does he turn to the prescription medication? Why does he die in such a similar way to Gladys at a similar age?”
“I felt like there had to be a correlation there because they weren’t both taking the same prescription medication and why does he have all these really geriatric diseases very young in life with glaucoma, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and different things like that?
“When I discovered that his maternal grandparents were first cousins, I just thought from a fan perspective, maybe this is part of that answer to the why question that all Elvis fans have. I felt an obligation to this story to full investigate it and that only grew the deeper I got into the project.”
And then the author found that as she delved further into The King’s health history, she didn’t have to theorise anything at all.
Sally added: “Just from what we knew, I was able to build a very strong case for all the ailments he had and either where they came from or certainly prove that they were certainly present before fame.
“And that was really the real goal, because if we can show he had serious illness prior to fame then we know the prescription medication didn’t cause it – for example his colon problem, I was able to trace that back to the Presley family.
“It’s something that Elvis dealt with her entire life but it’s often set aside as ‘Well the prescription medication will have slowed his bowels and that would have caused it.’”
Elvis: Destined To Die Young is out now and available to purchase here.
READ THE RADIO TIMES ARTICLE HERE.