Interview with Ginger Alden
October 10, 2019
On the evening of November 19th, 1976. George Klein called Ginger's sister Terry, the reigning Miss Tennessee, asking if she would like to meet Elvis. Terry was engaged at the time but thought, of course it would be nice to see Graceland and meet Elvis. She told George yes but felt awkward going alone so she took Ginger along with her. When they arrived at Graceland they were escorted upstairs and into Lisa Marie's bedroom. Ginger has said 'I know this sounds funny but when Elvis entered the room, I thought trumpets would sound'.
'He looked so handsome. He quickly sat in a chair and started talking with each of us.
It turned out to be a truly wonderful evening as he took us on a tour of Graceland'.
Joe Esposito: Elvis liked Ginger Alden very much, but her mother pretty much controlled her and wanted to be around Elvis all the time. I don’t think he was going to marry her. He may have told her that he wanted to marry her and stuff like that, so she would stay around, but after a while, he started to date her, he started to date other women too. I don’t think he was ever going to marry her.
Interview with Ginger Alden
GA: Ginger Alden / RA: Rosemary Alden.
Can you describe the circumstances leading up to your visit to Graceland, and meeting Elvis?
GA: I first met Elvis when I was five years old. I know my sister Rosemary is telling me about this first meeting so I will jump to the evening of November 19th 1976. George Klein called my sister Terry, the reigning Miss Tennessee, asking if she would like to meet Elvis. My sister was engaged at the time but thought, of course it would be nice to see Graceland and meet Elvis. She told George yes, but felt awkward going alone. My sister Rosemary suggested that she and I accompany Terry saying they could always ask us to leave. We arrived at Graceland and were escorted upstairs and in to his daughter Lisa's bedroom. I know this sounds funny but when Elvis entered the room, I thought trumpets would sound. He looked so handsome. He quickly sat in a chair and started talking with each of us. It turned out to be a truly wonderful evening as he took us on a tour of Graceland. Later he sang for us and read aloud from some of his books about religion.
RA: We had initially first met Elvis quite a few years earlier when our father was a Public Relations Officer in the army in Memphis. (We even have several photos of our father with Elvis just after Elvis was inducted).
Elvis Presley and Ginger Alden.
When Elvis returned from Germany and was no longer in the service, our family was invited, by an uncle of Elvis', to join Elvis and a group at the local fairground. I was 12 at the time and Ginger was 5. Elvis remembered my father and walked over to meet him and our family. Elvis was so kind and cordial. He shook hands with each of us and patted Ginger on the head. We never dreamed our paths would cross again or that in 15 years Ginger would become engaged to Elvis!
Ginger, within just days of meeting you, Elvis' seemed to be in constant high spirits, especially on stage. One of Elvis' best live shows, ever, was the New Year's Eve show on December 31st, 1976 in Pittsburgh.
Please describe your recollections of that evening.
GA: I went to almost every one of Elvis' shows after meeting him and I felt his voice was in the best shape during the last years of his life. It was always great to see him performing at his best and having a great time as with the New Year's Eve show. Like any performance, some shows are just better than others be it sound problems or just being tired. I know Elvis always tried to give 100% for his fans. He was always so happy when Lisa was able to be at his shows. I always sat in a chair near the stage and during that particular show, I remember holding Lisa up so she could have a better view of his performance.
Are there any specific shows that stand out in your mind Rosemary?
RA: There were several shows. The first one being the Las Vegas shows that Elvis had our entire family flown in to see. We were flown in on his private jet called The Jetstar. What fantastic performances Elvis gave! Ginger had already been in Vegas with Elvis while he was performing two shows a night for two weeks. There was also a great show in which Elvis called my sister Terry onstage to play a classical piece.
I can't remember exactly which city we were in but during one show, I needed to go to the ladies room and asked Ginger if she would go with me. She said okay but we would have to hurry back before Elvis started his introduction of his band because he usually would introduce Ginger and our family as well. As we were returning, the stage door jammed and we could not get back…all I could think was, what is Elvis going to think when he starts to introduce us and we aren't there? We finally got the door open and just in time for Elvis' introduction! Later that evening, I told Elvis what happened and he thought it was so funny! While performing the very next night, he jokingly said', Rosemary, you just stay put!'
He was so very funny. We loved his sense of humor as it reminded us so much of our own.
Elvis proposed on January 26, 1977 at Graceland.
Can you give me your recollections and reactions to what happened that day?
GA: When January 26th came, I felt as if I had known Elvis longer than a few months. Our relationship had been so intense as if he wanted me to know almost everything about him in a short time. I knew I had fallen in love and couldn't imagine not being with him. His cousin Billy had told me how Elvis would come in from riding motorcycles, fall across the bed and say, 'there must be someone out there for me. We had been together a short time but I felt I had found my soul mate. There was a lot of activity going on that day at Graceland and it had to do with me getting my engagement ring. I was called into his bathroom where Elvis then said many beautiful things ending his proposal with, 'I never thought that I would find it in my own backyard, I'm asking you, will you marry me?' I was so happy as he presented a green velvet box, opened it and placed a very large and beautiful diamond ring on my finger. My hand was shaking as we kissed and stepped out of the bathroom into his bedroom. My hand was still trembling as he kept lifting it to look at the ring saying, 'oh, boy'. We were congratulated by his stepbrothers and Charlie Hodge gave us a small backgammon game as a quick gift.
RA: I know we were all so happy for them both after Ginger came home and showed us her beautiful 11½ carat diamond engagement ring which we later found out had been especially made from his TCB ring that he always wore on stage. I remember thinking now Elvis won't be alone anymore and will have a family again.
Do you still have your engagement ring Ginger?
Yes I do.
Can you tell me a little more about the trip to Hawaii in March 1977?
The photographs from the time indicate that Elvis was in excellent spirits (playing football, relaxing on the beach and generally having fun). You were all there weren't you?
GA: My time with Elvis was so special and the Hawaiian vacation was a lot of fun. Elvis knew I had never been to Hawaii and wanted to take my whole family but only my sisters could go at this time. We left on my sister Terry's birthday, which was March 3rd. He was in a great mood, despite the fact, he had mentioned that more of his group had asked to go along and he reluctantly let them. My sisters and I stayed with Elvis in the back of the Lisa Marie during the flight as he joked, laughed and sang. The trip was so beautiful but unfortunately cut short when Elvis irritated one of his eyes and we had to return to Memphis.
I stayed at Graceland and administered eye cream for a few days so I could help him be prepared for his next tour. I felt he genuinely had a good time on this trip and it was so wonderful to see him relax, go out to a shopping mall and sing. I have never forgotten the thrill of that vacation!
RA: Yes, Elvis wanted to take our whole family but they couldn't leave their jobs so Terry and I went along with Ginger. We had a great time in Hawaii seeing Elvis relax and take in some sun.
Apart from the vacation in Hawaii, can you tell me about any other trips that took place with Elvis?
We're aware of your Grandfather's funeral in January 1977.
GA: When my grandfather passed away, Elvis was very concerned and really wonderful. Of course, I wanted to be at my Grandfather's funeral and yet I did not want to leave Elvis. He was so sweet in asking if he could accompany me to the funeral and I answered yes. He had my family flown into Harrison, Arkansas where we drove twenty miles to Jasper, Arkansas for the services which took place in a very small church. We left Jasper and flew back to Memphis. There was no family get together after the services.
RA: Elvis spent the night at our home one evening. This was something that he told us he never did in his later years. Elvis decided to spend the night after driving Ginger and me home from Graceland. Early in their relationship, Elvis had asked Ginger to move in to Graceland which she declined explaining that it wasn't her way nor my parents, and Elvis said that he respected her and my parents for that. Elvis also told Ginger that his Mother would have loved her morals and values. We really enjoyed having Elvis as a houseguest. He was always so much fun to be around. I know that Elvis planned on coming to England sometime after he and Ginger were married. He wanted to tour Europe as he knew his fans had never seen him perform live there. He always had his fans close at heart.
Ginger, what are your recollections of the June 1977 event in Madison, Wisconsin when Elvis got out of the limo you were in to break up a situation at a gas station?
Apparently, he spotted two youths ganging up on an attendant.
GA: Elvis always seemed ready to help someone out and noticing a disturbance at a gas station, he quickly got out, approached the youths and left them all shaking hands. He returned to the car as if it was no big deal, but for those of us who witnessed it, it was another moment of seeing Elvis' concern for the welfare of others.
What were some of the topics that you remember Elvis discussing in your presence, either at Graceland or elsewhere? Did he talk about his past, his mother, growing up in Memphis or Tupelo?
GA: Elvis loved his parents and spoke with me about his mother on different occasions.
I know he really missed her a great deal. He wanted to show me where he was born and different places in his past so we often went out on his motorcycle around the city and toward Tupelo.
RA: I remember Elvis saying how upset he was with a lot of the people he had working for him.
He had already gotten rid of a few.
He said that he had several in mind who were on their way out and they were definitely aware of it!
Elvis often spent several days at a time, secluded in his bedroom.
Did he ever explain to you why he did that?
GA: Elvis had asked me to move into Graceland which I declined explaining that it just wasn't my or my family's ways. He told me he understood and respected me for that. When I did visit Graceland, we indeed stayed upstairs quite a bit. I attribute it to the fact that there always seemed to be a flurry of activity going on downstairs. He would often ask me who was downstairs, which was usually an employee with a date or friends and he would say that he didn't want to go down then. After a tour, if he was in his pajamas or unshaven, he didn't feel comfortable going downstairs where someone could be hanging out that he didn't know.
RA: Elvis loved his privacy. From what I heard, Elvis did not always go downstairs because he never really knew who or what was down there. Elvis stated that he never knew who would be the next in line to pester or hint for something that made him sick.
Was it apparent to you, at the time, that Elvis may have had a problem with prescription medication?
Was it ever discussed among yourselves and in your family?
GA: Sorry, I'll have to pass on this one at this time.
RA: I would rather not discuss this at this time.
GA: I have been amazed and saddened over the years by the numerous articles and books written by some who turned not only on him but themselves as well. So many untruths! I never knew of Elvis reading a pre-publication transcript of Elvis What Happened? but someone in his group did inform him of it. He was hurt and angry that they had turned and done something like that.
RA: I remember that Elvis was extremely upset that the book was being released and that the authors would do something like that to him as he said that he had done so much for them and their families in the past.
There have been some horrific stories that the National Enquirer was called prior to the alarm being raised when Elvis was found in his bathroom on August 16, 1977.
It's a tough question, but would any of you like to throw some light on this allegation?
GA: Yes, It is long past time to shine the light of truth on what is a malevolent fabrication. I don't see how the writer can live with himself knowing the lies and vicious rumors he has tried to spread about so many as a last ditch sensationalistic grasp at making money off of his association with Elvis. There was no phone call made by my mother or myself to anyone dealing with a publication of any type on the day that Elvis died. I was stunned and heartbroken and am appalled that anyone would think differently. The day after Elvis' death, our home was besieged by reporters from all branches of the media and tabloids trying to cover this tragedy. You can imagine the scene with more than 500,000 mourners and press from all over the world converging on Memphis. My mother turned everyone away at that time protecting me as I told her I did not want to give any interviews. I finally decided to grant an interview with our local paper to try and set the record straight after seeing Elvis' road manager on our television stating he had found Elvis' body. The tabloids had also returned to our doorstep literally shouting at one another. Next, the National Enquirer told us that Elvis' ex-girlfriend had given them a story and they were going to print a story about Elvis' death anyway so that is how my interview in the National Enquirer came about. As distraught as I was at that time and not knowing what in the world would be said about Elvis, I consented to do an interview for the National Enquirer. I remember Elvis telling me when we first started dating that there would be a lot of people who would be jealous of our relationship. He also asked me if I could handle it. I naively answered yes. I never foresaw the kind of self-promoting denigration of his character and memory that has appeared in print and on television since his death.
RA: No, it really isn't a tough question to answer, simply because it did not happen.
I hesitate to give any merit by even discussing this ludicrous and sick fabrication, but, for the sake of some of the fans, who have heard of this, and actually spent their money on this person's book (for which they should definitely get a refund. Good luck trying to get it).
Here is the truth and nothing but the truth as I (we) would definitely like to clear this up once and for all. A very jealous employee of Elvis' started this whole sick and malicious tale after he was fired by Vernon Presley for suspecting him of taking photos, selling them to tabloids and even stealing some of Elvis' items to sell. Out of work and with no income, he decided to try and make some money by writing a very malicious fictitious mystery that years later, he had to publish it himself as no reputable publisher would dare touch it. We heard of this through someone who had seen a copy of his manuscript at the courthouse and wanted us to know. We retained a lawyer and the author of this very sick fabrication seemed to have gotten scared and went back to California. His own lawyer could not even locate him.
Years later, he decided to try and pull his little story off. We were taken by surprise. This individual definitely lost his meal ticket when Elvis died. He has been so jealous and harbored such ill feelings toward Ginger and our family because Elvis was planning on him being one of the very next ones to go. He was going to be replaced by my brother Mike. Elvis didn't trust this person after he made some improper gestures toward Ginger just before what would have been Elvis' last tour. Ginger told Elvis about this and he was certainly not happy. This person has also lied about his various places of employment and titles, and even his own military record. Talk about an ego. What some people will do for a buck.
This person had absolutely no basis for his book whatsoever. On the day that Elvis died, neither Ginger nor my mother, spoke with anyone from the National Enquirer or any other publication. Had this happened, the police, Vernon Presley and the news would have all been investigating this. Even all of the tabloids would have had a very big story to tell, but nothing happened. Why? Because it simply did not happen. Also to clear up another vicious rumor, Ginger rarely took her eye makeup off around Elvis, as he loved her dark eyes. This is why she still had some on the morning that he passed away. It is absolutely unbelievable what vicious lies are out there once you get in the public eye. Ginger had just found the person she deeply loved, dead on the bathroom floor. Her shock and grief were profound and real and for anyone to suggest otherwise is simply not true and sick.
If Elvis were alive today, he would certainly be the first to tell you. I would also like to add that after Elvis and Ginger became engaged, we noticed a drastic change with some of his employees. We knew Elvis was planning on making some changes, or I should say cleaning house, and they knew also. The jealousy at times seemed so thick you could cut it with a knife. It was so overwhelming at times I (we) have often asked the question, what really happened to Elvis or rather could have happened?
What are the facts behind your Mother pursuing the Presley Estate for a swimming pool after Elvis died?
GA: Here are the facts concerning my mother's lawsuit.
Elvis had been telling me that he would like my family to be closer to Graceland and not have very far to drive. Elvis cared dearly for both of my parents but knew they had had marital problems in the past. He even spoke to both of them about their troubles but separation and divorce seemed to be the only answer at that time.
When Elvis very generously offered to buy a new home for my mother, he acted as if it was nothing out of the ordinary for him to do this. While we were on tour, he would often bring up the subject of house hunting and would ask me if my mother had been looking at new homes. I would reply 'no' because I knew she didn't feel comfortable going alone and since his gift was so generous, she didn't know what type of homes to even look at. Elvis wanted to do this and was so excited he even had his own appointments set up to look at some homes so he could move forward with his plan. We accompanied him on these trips but he wasn't happy with the homes we saw, as he would constantly say there was no room for a pool or the home needed a pool. I finally spoke with my mother and realized she was content in the home we had already been living in. I mentioned this to Elvis and he immediately got on the phone telling her that he wanted to pay for her home and that she should not have the worry of a house-note hanging over her head in her later years.
He was genuinely excited as he asked her to bring her payment book and any relevant papers to Graceland and turn everything over to his father Vernon, who would take care of everything for him. The next day my mother arrived at Graceland, graciously thanking Elvis and giving all the necessary papers to his father.
Vernon in turn told her that he was turning everything over to their attorney who would handle it. At that time, Elvis even went a step further and informed my mother that not only would he like to pay for her home but he would also like to have some landscaping put in and a swimming pool installed.
Once again my mother told Elvis how deeply she appreciated his wonderful gifts. Elvis proceeded with his plans. Two large trees were placed in our front yard and a contract was drawn up to install a swimming pool. Elvis came out to our home, in great spirits, on August the 6th 1977. He viewed the trees in the front yard and once again told us now all we needed was the pool. Ten days later, Elvis passed away and my mother quit her job to be at home with me through this very sad and difficult time.
The swimming pool was also installed shortly thereafter. My mother soon received a letter from her mortgage company stating she was three months behind in her house payments. Needless to say, we were absolutely shocked. I told my mother to call the attorney for the estate, who had all the paperwork, which she did. The attorney sent a letter to my mother which she still has, that states clearly and I quote: Were Elvis alive there would be no problem in proceeding with the gift he intended to make to you of the payment of the balance owed on your residence. However, the only instrument which gives Mr. Presley the authority to act is Elvis' will. Because there was no executed contract, Vernon Presley has no authority to complete the gift that Elvis intended to make, and he is without authority under the will or the Statute of Tennessee in order to do this.
It was obvious to us that the estate was trying to stop all cash outflow after Elvis' death. Shocked and realizing she had quit her job, my mother felt that she had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the Estate to insure that Elvis' known promises and intentions were fulfilled. Elvis had thought all of this had been taken care of. We later found out that the parents of Elvis' ex-girlfriend had also been asked to leave the home in which they resided but the estate still owned. When the case went to the Shelby County Chancery Court, we lost due to the fact that there was no written contract on Elvis' wishes only a verbal agreement. Our attorney took the case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals where they reversed the Chancery courts decision unanimously and the estate was ordered to proceed with Elvis' wishes and pay the mortgage on our home. The estate had a lot of other lawsuits at the time and took the case to the Supreme Court where we lost once again only due to the fact that there were only a verbal agreement and no written contract.
RA: The truth regarding our Mother's lawsuit had nothing to do with the swimming pool.
The truth of the matter is that Elvis wanted to move our family closer to Graceland and therefore, wanted to purchase a home for us. Elvis was known for purchasing homes and cars for literal strangers so his gesture and wish was nothing out of the ordinary, especially for his fiancé's family. After Elvis' death, his wishes were not being honored by his Estate which brought on undue hardships for my Mother as she had quit her job and had depended on Elvis' verbal wishes and gesture. Elvis would have wanted our Mother to take action, as this is something he definitely wanted done. Elvis even went to his grave thinking that it had been done. Due to a letter that we obtained, our Mother won unanimously in The Court Of Appeals. Unfortunately, over the years, the fans did not know the facts regarding this case. By not knowing or understanding left ill feelings thus, very vicious stories and lies have been circulating for years regarding this matter. We knew that the fans would not understand this lawsuit when it was filed but again, it was something that Elvis would have wanted us to do. Simply put, it was merely honoring Elvis' wishes.
Now that the necessary but uncomfortable questions are out of the way, can we finish by asking each of you for your most treasured moment with Elvis? Maybe something special that he said or did?
GA: The moment Elvis slipped my engagement ring on my finger holds a special place in my heart. I also treasure the fact that I was able to be a part of his life and witness first hand the entertaining, sensitive and loving man that he was. When Elvis and I discussed our wedding plans and set our wedding date of December 25, 1977, I remember thinking how appropriate we were back in Lisa's room where I had met him. It was very early morning August 16th and I have always felt that was God's way of letting me know, once again, how Elvis truly felt before God took him and for that I am forever grateful.
RA: My most treasured moment with Elvis occurred when he told our family that he was going to marry Ginger, how happy she made him and how much he loved us as a family while he placed our TLC necklaces around each of our necks. I remember Elvis saying how happy he was.
I have always treasured those moments in my heart.
And how do you both think Elvis Presley should be remembered?
GA: I think Elvis should be remembered with great respect for his compassion and originality in the music field. His ability to 'just be himself' on film seemed to come without effort for someone who once told me that as an actor the most difficult part was being natural on camera.
He was a person looking forward to many changes in his life, who loved and appreciated his fans and would want to be remembered for bringing a smile to their faces and enjoyment into their lives.
RA: Elvis should be remembered as the truly beautiful person that he was in his kindness and loving ways. His inner soul touched our hearts. He should also be remembered as being the greatest entertainer of our time.
Elvis was truly one of a kind and he loved his fans so very much.
Interview With Ginger Alden (By Scott Jenkins)
World's At Standstill For Elvis' Fiancee|
Elvis Presley's last vacation | Hawaii, March 1977
Elvis, Ginger and Lisa Marie Presley | Graceland | August 12, 1977
Interview with Shirley Dieu
Interview with Linda Thompson
Elvis Presley | The story behind the last photo taken | August 16, 1977
Elvis Presley And The Events Of 1977
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