She found him unresponsive, lying unconscious on the floor of his Master Suite bathroom.

After a half-hour fight to revive him, doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital pronounced him dead at 3:30 p.m on August 16, 1977.

The Lead-Up

Elvis’ cause of death appears to have been heart failure, attributed to his long history of drug abuse.

Presley had fallen into a vicious cycle of prescription medications, including barbiturates, opiates, and sedatives.

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By 1973, his health was already in severe decline. It was the same year of his divorce from Priscilla Presley nee Beaulieu.

He overdosed on barbiturates twice in that year alone, once falling into a coma.

According to his primary care physician Dr. George Nichopoulos, Elvis felt that by getting the drugs legally prescribed, he wasn’t just a “common junkie.”

The Doctor

Dr. Nichopoulos may well deserve some of the blame for the King’s passing. In the final 20 years of Elvis’ life, according to charges filed against the doctor, he prescribed more than 12,000 pills and other drugs – so many that they were carried in three separate suitcases while on tour.

How did Dr. Nicopoulos manage to prescribe well beyond what was necessary? He claimed the pills were for Presley’s entire entourage.

In 1981, he was charged with over-prescribing. However, he was acquitted of all charges and held onto his medical license until 1995.

The Questions

While Elvis’ drug history is probably the most well-known aspect of his passing, the more sordid details of what happened were largely kept under wraps.

Despite an enormous public persona, Elvis managed to keep much of his life private from the public.

PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

After he was pronounced dead, the family demanded a private autopsy. Conducted by Tennessee’s Chief Medical Examiner Jerry Francisco, its findings are curious.


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