October 17, 2021

Bazar Lead

Just Law & Legal

Elvis Presley biographer claims grandparents’ incest and ‘genetic defect’ caused death

Elvis Presley was doomed to die young because of genetic defects and incest, according to a biographer who has closely researched his family tree.

Today (August 16) marks 44 years since Elvis tragically died from a heart attack after being found unresponsive on his bathroom floor in Memphis, Tennessee.

But author Sally Hoedel has noted that his death at 42 years old was startlingly similar to many of his relatives – including his own mother Gladys.

In her biography, Elvis: Destined to Die Young, the writer hopes to put to bed theories that he was killed by years of gluttony and binging on drugs, as other writers have suggested.

Instead, she points to his DNA as the reason for his early demise and thinks there was practically nothing that might have saved him.

Elvis Presley in 1976 the year before he died

Even worse, because his maternal grandparents were first cousins, it’s likely a lot of genetic problems were compounded in Elvis and his uncles, as well as his mother.

Sally told Daily Star: “It’s not just one thing within the genetic pool because I know he was a carrier for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency and that does get talked about a lot because we know [from his autopsy] he was a carrier for that.

“There is certainly a lot more going on there when you look at Gladys and her brothers Travis, Tracy, and Johney all dying age 46, 49, 58, 46, there are heart-related issues in every one of them, and liver-related issues.”

Elvis Presley holds a twelve-string guitar in the 1950s
Elvis Presley holds a twelve-string guitar in the 1950s

Sally thinks there is probably a “genetic heart condition present” and other hidden defects alongside the alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

Elvis Prelsey’s maternal grandparents, Robert Lee Smith and Octavia “Dollie” Lavenia Mansell, were first cousins who were close as children and later got married, which was not frowned upon culturally at the time.

Known affectionately in the family as “Bob and Doll”, the incestuous couple had children and grandchildren plagued by health issues – Elvis among them.

A promotional portrait for Elvis Presley's 1957 film 'Jailhouse Rock'
A promotional portrait for Elvis Presley’s 1957 film ‘Jailhouse Rock’

The author continued: “His maternal grandparents were first cousins and that doubling of the gene pool, you can see how it clearly created some issues within their offspring – Bob and Doll Smith – and their offspring, one of which was Gladys, Elvis’ mother.”

She claims Elvis’ demise is not one of “self-destruction” as is often spoken about, but is really a “struggle to survive”.

“I think that’s an aspect that’s really been missing in his story because it has been so romanticised and sensationalised, and then there’s a lot of falsehood that comes with that,” Sally added.

American singer and musician Elvis Presley on his wedding day to Priscilla
American singer and musician Elvis Presley on his wedding day to Priscilla

“Certainly one [falsehood] is that Elvis was a glutton and that goes back to the myths of his eating habits, as if he sat there and ate 100,000 calories every day, which I don’t think is even possible.

“He was anything but a glutton because most of what Elvis did he did for other people.”

Elvis, who came from an incredibly poor background and lived in a two-room shack as a child, was known to be astonishingly generous and once bought a car for a woman he saw staring longingly through the window of a car dealership.

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In the book, Sally claimed Elvis saw fresh vegetables as “comfort food” because of his humble upbringing and he didn’t just exist on a diet of hamburgers.

Sally also dismissed the notion that Elvis liked to get high on legal medications and said he used them as a necessity to manage his illnesses and hectic schedule – refusing to take a break even as his body was breaking.

Far from a “sad story”, Sally wants readers to understand that Elvis achieved truly remarkable things despite the mountain of obstacles in his way.