Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story

BOOK: Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story
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THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

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A Penguin Random House Company

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2014 by Ginger Alden.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

BERKLEY® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-61613-0

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Alden, Ginger.

Elvis and Ginger / Ginger Alden. — First edition.

pages cm

ISBN 978-0-425-26633-5 (hardcover)

1. Presley, Elvis, 1935–1977. 2. Alden, Ginger. 3. Rock musicians—United States—Biography. 4. Actresses—United States—Biography. I. Title.

ML420.P96A64 2014

782.42166092—dc23

[B]

2014009089

FIRST EDITION:
September 2014

Cover photo courtesy of David Spencer.

Cover design by Jason Gill.

The events in this memoir are real events, as experienced and remembered by the author. Most conversations are exact words and a few have been reconstructed from the author’s memory and presented in a manner that conveys their spirit and intent, as recalled by the author.

Most Berkley Books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts, can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write: [email protected]

Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone.

Version_1

 

To Elvis, for sharing a part of your remarkable life with me and my family. Your love, music, generosity, and many beautiful memories hold a special place in our hearts forever.

To my parents, Jo and Walter, and my siblings, Mike, Rosemary, and Terry, for always being there. To my husband, Ron, and my son, Hunter, whose patience, love, understanding, and support I could not have done this without. I love you all . . .

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you to my agent, Frank Weimann, for his initial letter to me, understanding that the true story of Elvis and my relationship had yet to be told. My deepest gratitude to everyone at the Berkley Publishing Group for all of their assistance in bringing my memories to life. A special thank-you to Leslie Gelbman, publisher, and to my editor, Denise Silvestro, for her patience, guidance, and expertise throughout this long, emotional journey. I appreciate all the help from editorial assistant Allison Janice, and a big thank-you to Holly Robinson for our talks and her help in doctoring what needed to be said at various times. To the copy editor, Candace B. Levy, and the book-design department, thank you. To the publicity department, especially Heather Connor and Diana Franco, my sincere thanks.

To Peggy, Teri, Rachael, Jeanine, Cindy, and Louise, your friendships I hold dear, and thank you for your encouragement, support, and always lending an ear over the past years. I love you all . . .

My deep gratitude to my cousin David Spencer, Russ Howe, Shantay Wood, Bob Klein, Keith Alverson, and Ronnie Bell for the use of their photos and for assisting me with others. My deep appreciation to Elvis’s fans for your encouragement and support, and thank you for your unending love for Elvis.

CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Epigraph

Author’s Note

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

Photos

 

“When love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.”

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

—KAHLIL GIBRAN,
THE PROPHET

AUTHOR’S NOTE

One September afternoon in 2001, I was standing on the side porch of my home in New York. The school year had just begun and I was waiting for the yellow bus that usually came roaring up our street at this time to bring my son, Hunter, home.

When the bus arrived at the end of our driveway, the doors swung open and Hunter jumped out, racing toward me wearing a pair of oversize sunglasses he had taken with him earlier that morning. “Some of the kids on the bus were calling me Elvis!” he exclaimed breathlessly. “Who’s Elvis?”

I was surprised that children as young as mine would know who Elvis was. Hunter’s question caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared to reveal an extremely special relationship in my life to my son, whose birth seven years earlier had been scheduled for August 16, the same day Elvis died. Hunter arrived four days late, sparing me the irony of having such a happy event coincide with the date of such a tragic event in my life.

That afternoon, I told Hunter the simplest truth. “Elvis was a very famous entertainer,” I said. I breathed a sigh of relief when he ran inside, seemingly satisfied with my response.

As the year progressed, however, Hunter occasionally asked me more questions about Elvis: “What kind of hairstyle did he wear?” “What kind of music did he sing?”

I knew these questions had to be prompted by conversations at school. Still, I kept my answers short and simple, knowing one day I’d have to say more.

By the end of that school year, I had decided to tell Hunter a little about Elvis and me. I didn’t know quite how to begin. It felt strange to talk with him about a man I’d loved long before meeting his father.

Not knowing what my son’s reaction would be, I was a little nervous and felt an involuntary tremble. I hadn’t talked about Elvis in a long time. “This person you’ve been asking about, Elvis, well, Mommy knew him,” I said and then paused. I wasn’t feeling comfortable enough to tell him that Elvis and I had been engaged, so I simply added, “Elvis was a very nice man I met long ago. He was someone who loved to sing and make people happy.”

I waited for any questions, but he just said, “Cool!” and as he went off to play, I began to feel that all of my apprehension about opening up this conversation with him was unnecessary. For him it was simple. For me, it was profoundly complex.

I had written down my memories of Elvis not long after he passed away as a way of holding on to them. I felt I had to grant a few interviews at various times, but I always kept the true, complete story and intimate details of our time together to myself. I went forward with my life, but over time, I was shocked and hurt to see that speculations, exaggerations, and complete untruths regarding Elvis, me, and our relationship were unjustly being told by a few people who had been around Elvis—people I’d barely gotten to know and some I hardly knew at all. Some of their stories were then picked up and spread by other writers for their own Elvis biographies. Many books have sensationalized and even fictionalized Elvis as being depressed and in a downward spiral during his last year of life. However, the Elvis that I knew was not the way he was portrayed in the media. He saw his relationship with me as a new beginning and was excited about both the relationship and what the future would bring for the two of us.

I knew I had a story to tell, but understood that the truth about my relationship with Elvis was one that would require a great deal of time and emotional energy to write.

When I gave birth to my son, I devoted my time to him, as he became my number one priority. I felt I couldn’t be there for him as a mother if I chose to write such an intensely personal book. When my son went off to college, I felt the time was finally right, so I began putting together my memoirs. This proved to be an all-encompassing and extremely emotional journey.

Elvis allowed many people in and out of his life, all of whom he developed different relationships with as his needs and desires evolved over the years. I was the last serious love he would let into his heart. Our meeting was a wonderful accident that turned into a life-altering nine months as I got to know a very complicated, intense man. The reasons I fell in love with Elvis don’t fit neatly into a tidy, easily categorized list; they were things I felt my heart was telling me: I wanted to marry Elvis and spend my life with him because I loved him for his good heart and generous, kind spirit.

This book is about the steep learning curve of a woman in love with—and loved by—a man who most of the world could experience only from afar. Elvis could be difficult at times, but for me, his goodness and loving spirit greatly outweighed any faults.

I experienced a great deal during my short but jam-packed months with Elvis, and our love story goes beyond any normal description.

Simply put, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it’s like to be pulled into the orbit of a man as powerfully charismatic as he was. Elvis had his own gravity, and his universe was unlike anything the average person is likely to experience or even come into brief contact with, other than a few select people in history lucky enough to be around supernova personalities or achievers who touch down on our planet from time to time.

When I first met Elvis, I was a young, impressionable woman who had just turned twenty. He was forty-one and wanted to teach me many things. One of the lessons he taught me that proved to be the most valuable during the painful months following his death was this: If something bothers you or if people are saying untrue things about you, “Kill it and get it behind you,” Elvis advised me.

He was always quick to point out that it’s far healthier to let things go than to dwell on them if they make you angry or unhappy. He would refer to some less annoying things as “pure Mickey Mouse shit,” usually adding, “There’s a bigger picture out there.”

This was powerful advice, coming from a man whose sensitive nature would not always allow him to follow that wisdom. However, although I clung to his rule of “Kill it and get it behind you” as tightly as I could after his death, it would ultimately prove to be impossible for me to remain unscathed by the gossip, rumors, and lies after Elvis was gone.

Some people even dared to dismiss the last year of Elvis’s life as a runaway train toward suicide. There is a well-known saying, “If you can’t carve your place in history by virtue of your own talent, perhaps you can make it by assassination,” and that was the path some people unfortunately chose to take in books and interviews after Elvis passed away.

This mistaken image of Elvis hurt me deeply, as I knew firsthand that his world, during our time together, continued to be mainly filled with love, sensitivity, brilliance, humor, and generosity. I’m not claiming to be an Elvis expert, but I got to know him intimately, in a way that few have.

Elvis, a multifaceted man, with his passion for music; thirst for knowledge; and deep love for family, friends, and fans, was not a depressed, run-down man. Far from it: Elvis was a man who was excited about life and enthusiastically making plans for the future as he endeavored to transform his dreams into a reality—a reality that included marrying me.

Elvis, you and I know the truth about our time together. Unfortunately, you’re not here to set the record straight. With this book, I will try to do so. Better late than never.

BOOK: Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story
7.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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