Elvis Presley’s downward spiral, punctuated by health problems routinely written off as the consequences of addiction, may have actually been triggered by an event that happened generations before he was even born: Elvis’s maternal grandparents were first cousins.
“I think that even if he wasn’t ‘Elvis Presley,’ he would have had severe health problems and probably an early death,” said historian and author Sally Hoedel.
Elvis: Destined to Die Young is Hoedel’s exhaustively researched investigation into the real reasons why the world lost Elvis Presley on August 16, 1977, when he was only 42.
Hoedel offers factual and scientific data, plus never-before-published information she gained by interviewing people who personally knew Elvis, to dive deep into his struggles with multiple chronic health conditions. She thoroughly examines Elvis Presley — devoted son, husband, father and friend — while plowing through the negative hype and sensationalism surrounding the man. Elvis’s health problems are intertwined with his life story, and for the first time, it is revealed that he suffered from the disease in 9 of 11 bodily systems. Five of those disease processes, Hoedel finds, were present from birth. She expertly puts all of this into historical context, pointing out differences in medical treatments and protocols for the time.
Hoedel’s extensive research provides answers to lingering questions about his death and dispels the long-held theory that abuse of prescription drugs is what killed Elvis. Readers may be surprised to learn that, based on Elvis Presley’s family history and the genes he was dealt, nothing could have saved the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The result is a totally fresh, unique, humanizing approach to Elvis.
“I wrote this book because I genuinely believe this is a story that Elvis would want known,” Hoedel said. “He needed to be a strong American male while he was alive, and he hid his pain and his body’s weaknesses. Yet, he always knew he was just like everyone else: human. I believe he would be OK with everyone now understanding just how human he was. He struggled but he tried. My only hope for this labor of love is that it makes someone stop and think about Elvis just a little bit differently. He deserves it.”
Author Sally A. Hoedel, a lifelong Elvis fan and historian, has a journalism degree from Michigan State University and is co-owner of Character Development and Leadership, a curriculum business. She lives in Northern Michigan with her husband and their four daughters.