Elvis Presley was excited about life when he died, eagerly making plans for new albums, new films and an expanded family with Ginger Alden, his young bride-to-be of seven months.
Alden shares those memories and more in the revealing new book Elvis & Ginger, which charts her relationship with the King in his final year of life.
In an interview with NBC, Alden shared some surprising recollections from that period, including:
- Presley wasn't as overweight as some thought he was. "He would oversalt his food, and at times, he would appear more puffy — or bloated, if you want to call it that — on camera. But he was never fat," Alden said. "I thought he was a handsome man; he just wasn't 20 anymore."
- Elvis proposed to Alden on Jan. 26, 1977, in his favorite room at Graceland: the palatial master bathroom. It "was his sanctuary," Alden recalled. "(He) seated me in a chair and said many beautiful words to me and asked me to marry him."
- On the night Elvis died in August 1977, he had taken two "sleep packets" — medications his doctors prescribed for his chronic insomnia. Alden is unsure what those packets contained or whether the drugs played a role in the singer's death (officially ruled to have been caused by a heart attack). "Sometimes (the doctors) had given Elvis placebos, because he had a dependency on sleep medication," Alden said.
Presley proposed to Ginger Alden with this ring a few months after the two began dating. Thirty-seven years after that sad day, Presley remains a force in popular culture: An auction of personal effects at Graceland last month drew scores of big-ticket bids. His signature is among the most-forged autographs of all time, and fellow music icons such as Paul McCartney still pay homage at his grave site.