Linda Thompson is finally writing a memoir detailing her long romances with Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner and David Foster. But it’s not a dirty tell-all. It’s the kind of well-tempered book we would expect from this Oscar-nominated lyricist and mother of Brody and Brandon Jenner.
“I got offers right away to write books — big money offers” after Elvis died, Thompson tells me gently in her Memphis-cultured voice.
“But I turned everything down. I didn’t want to be that person who capitalized on a lovely, loving, natural relationship.
“It was important to me not to be one of those vampires that bled on him.”
I met her last week while we judged an official Elvis contest downtown.
“He would be really astonished by it,” she says of Elvis tribute artists.
Elvis and Thompson saw a few Elvis impressionists in their Vegas days.
“He would say, ‘Well, there I am again.’ It was funny. ‘Here I come again,’ ” she recalls. “Elvis had an irreverent sense of humor. It bonded us.”
“We never went out” on the town, she says. “I was with him four and a half years, and once we went to the restaurant at the Las Vegas Hilton, downstairs in the steakhouse, and we couldn’t finish our meal. It was chaos.”
Her Elvis record collection is unlike any other.
“I have his album collection — but just what he collected, the things he listened to.”
Thompson is more than Elvis memories. She and Foster co-wrote the Oscar-nominated “I Have Nothing” for Whitney Houston. She has written for other singers. And she has acted in TV shows.
While we talked , she was in her Malibu house on an acre of land. Brandon was on property, working on his surfboard.
“And Brody’s on his long journey home from Indonesia, chasing waves, surfing. — So I can keep Clairol in business, coloring this gray hair he’s giving me.
“He called me the other day. — He goes, ‘Now listen, don’t worry, everything is just fine, but I had a little mishap. I fell against a coral reef, and it’s like razor, so my back’s all cut up.’”
At the time, Brandon was on a little boat.
“There was a guy who came on board with a machete and threatened to kill everybody on board — some Indonesian guy wanted them to pay to surf in his spot,” she says.
“I have fabulous sons, but unfortunately, they both have that thrill-seeker gene — bigger, higher, faster, scarier.
“I have a deal with God. If I’m breathing, that’s a prayer for my sons’ safety.”
Thompson finds bliss in her boys, her dogs Bentley (“my French bulldog/boyfriend”) and Gizmo (a Shih Tzu) and life by the beach.
“I have four chickens. I have four laying hens. And I have 50 fruit trees. I make apricot and plum jam every summer. I brought Memphis to Malibu.”
She works with charities for animals, children and old people.
Her adage: “People shouldn’t take life so seriously. None of us is going to get out of this thing alive, anyway.”
And she’s got this memoir nagging at her.
“Some things I’m privy to,” she says, “I’ll have to take to the grave with me.
“I don’t think you ever win by hurting another person,” she says. “Don’t sit around and wait for karma to bite somebody in the ass, or to reward you. Just try to do the right thing, and that’s immediate karma: ‘I feel good about myself.’”
Thompson is in town today, bringing Memphis to Vegas again, bidding us a Southern greeting:
“Holler at me if you’re here.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.