Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley in a 1950s Sun Records promotional image

Like Prince, Elvis Presley was such an essential figure in music history that it’s easy to forget that he was also a movie star. Born January 8, 1935, he died on August 16, 1977, at just 42 years of age.

The King’s cause of death has always been in dispute — and if you read a lot of supermarket tabloids in the 1980s, you probably noticed that even his death itself was in dispute.

Soon after he died, Shelby County medical examiner Jerry Francisco declared that Elvis Presley died of “cardiac arrhythmia” and that drugs were not a factor.

But in a piece for PBS News Hour, Dr. Howard Markel argues that this seems like an attempt to protect Presley’s reputation. He notes that a toxicology report found that Elvis’ blood contained very high levels of the opiates Dilaudid, Percodan, Demerol, and codeine — as well as Quaaludes. Two pathologists also eventually disclosed that they had found evidence of severe and chronic constipation, diabetes, and glaucoma during their examination.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14