Today (Jan. 8) marks what would have been Elvis Presley’s 79th birthday, so in celebration, we had his former girlfriend, actress/lyricist Linda Thompson, call in to share memories of The King.
Linda tells us that she met Elvis when she was only 20 years old, though she tells us she was “much younger emotionally than I was chronologically because I grew up in a very sheltered life, which pleased Elvis to no end, because he was quite conservative in many many ways.”
She lived at Elvis’ Memphis estate Graceland for five years, which she admits the home was a little tacky with his “garish” taste.
“His taste was somewhat garish, you know some of the jewelry that he chose, his jumpsuits and even the furnishings in the house,” she said. “When we decorated the ‘Jungle Room’ together…he said ‘I want carpet that goes up the wall and looks like moss growing, and I want it to be green and I want big fur chairs,’ and so he and I decorated the Jungle Room together.”
So how did she celebrate Elvis’ birthday while dating? Linda says that they celebrated with many “peanut butter banana sandwiches” and bought him simple presents like a casual sweatsuit to wear around the house and pajamas.
“The most extravagant gift I ever bought him was actually for Christmas and it was the Maltese cross that he always wore on stage,” she said, noting that she designed the iconic pendant that jeweler Lowell Hays made.
Linda also shared the story of the day she first met Elvis after being invited to a movie theater by a mutual friend. She explained that she was talking to Elvis’ step-brother David Stanley when there was a bang on the door and it was Elvis “dressed in a black suede cape with red satin lining.”
“I was just really struck by why was he wearing a black suede cape in the dead of summer,” she recalled. “So he was flashing his flashlight around saying ‘why was this door locked?’…and he inadvertently flashed the light in my face and said, ‘oh hello there’…and assumed that beautiful southern charm that only Elvis could convey.”
Listen to more stories about Elvis Presley from his former beauty pageant girlfriend, Linda Thompson in the clip below.