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March 23, 2009

Dr Nichopoulos: Elvis, We Care, Inc., Jerry Lee Lewis Road Manager, FedEx Employee RESUME




Linda & Dr. Nick leaving The Philadelphia Hilton Hotel - June 23rd 1974

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Nichopoulos was moved to Anniston, AL during his infancy where his father, a Greek immigrant, opened a restaurant called "Gus' Sanitary Cafe." Dr. Nichopoulos earned his MD at Thunderbird University Medical School in 1959, after studying at the University of the South, Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He began treating Elvis in 1967, and took it on as a full time job in 1970 until Elvis' death in 1977. In 1985, he started a solo practice called We Care, Inc. After he was stripped of his credentials in 1995, Dr Nick worked for a short time as Jerry Lee Lewis's road manager. He later took a job evaluating medical insurance claims by FedEx employees.

Legal Battles

In 1980, he was indicted on 14 counts of overprescribing drugs to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as twelve other patients. The district-attorney ruled out murder charges because of the conflicting medical opinions about the cause of Presley's death. In 1977 alone, Nichopoulos had prescribed over 10,000 doses of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones for Presley. Dr. Nichopoulos claimed he had tried in vain to reduce Elvis' dependency, even going so far as to manufacture one thousand placebos for Elvis, but to no avail. The jury concluded that he had tried to act in the best interests of his patients. He was acquitted on all counts. Also in 1980, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found him guilty of overprescription, but decided that he was not unethical. They imposed three months' suspension of his licence and three years' probation.

In 1995 Nichopoulos had his license permanently suspended by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, after it was revealed that he had been overprescribing to numerous patients for years. Dr. Nichopoulos claimed it was for patients that suffered from inoperable chronic pain, but he was unsuccessful in his defense. During his many appeals, Dr Nick admitted to the board that he had overprescribed. 'I cared too much,' he told them. During his court cases many friends supported him, raising money and holding benefits to pay for court costs.

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Book News

The True Story of Elvis Presley and Dr. Nick

For ten years Dr. George Nichopoulos, better known as "Dr. Nick", was one of Elvis's most trusted and valued advisors and personal physician. He and his son, Dean, who started first as his racquetball teacher and then as his trusted valet, were there to help maintain balance amid the craziness Presley's lifestyle demanded, and his fans have yet to fully understand.

At the end, they were there to observe a proud, private Elvis trying desperately to cope with his career pressures, personal problems and failing health.

Now Dr. Nick and Dean are collaborating with Elvis historian, Joe Russo on the book that Elvis's legacy deserves.

It's a story filled with honesty and compassion that only they can tell. Put aside what you've heard before about Elvis's final days and get ready to understand for the first time, the inner workings of the man who was, and still is, the king of rock n' roll.

Do you have any unresolved questions about Elvis's health, lifestyle or prescription drug dependency? Or about Dr. Nick's efforts to manage his illness and pain while Elvis strived to stay at the top of his game? Have you wondered what medical technology and experts could reveal today about Elvis's medical condition and the cause of his death?

Dr. George Nichopoulos - Personal physician to Elvis Presley. He was Presley's confessor, confidant and life support system. He was "on call" to sooth Presley's concerns, phobias, and ailments. Presley looked upon Dr. Nick as a pseudo father-figure, and entrusted thoughts and personal details he shared with few others. Dr. Nick was there, on tour, at home and "behind closed doors".

Dean Nichopoulos - Presley's personal valet for the last several years of his life. Presley referred to Dean as "the son I never had". He virtually "lived" at Graceland and was there to serve and assist Presley in his daily routine and on concert tours. Dean looked after all Presley's personal needs and was always present for motorcycle rides, racquetball games or whenever Presley decided to just have some fun.

Joe Russo - Elvis historian and author of four books including ELVIS STRAIGHT UP with Joe Esposito. He also has been a performer himself for over seventeen years. Due to this duel persona, he is often referred to as the "rock n' roll writer".

Some Drugs found in EP'body

In Others



Dr. Nick

and his
black bag carry the 'Memories of Elvis'

In the background, the music of Mozart and Beethoven plays softly, adding an air of refinement, even elegance, to the exhibit one floor above the clatter of a Tunica County casino.

"I think it's important for people to come in and realize it's not a carnival," says Bobby Freeman, partner and promoter of Dr. George C. Nichopoulos.

That's "Dr. Nick" to much of the world, which will remember the 72-year-old white-haired Memphis doctor as personal physician to Elvis Presley right up until Elvis's death. That was the death in 1977 attributed to either heart disease, to heart disease exacerbated by drugs, or to having enough drugs in his system to kill a barnful of farm animals.

It's that last part that prompts Elvis Presley Enterprises chief executive officer Jack Soden to call Dr. Nick's "Memories of Elvis" exhibit at Hollywood Casino a "tacky, tasteless and unfortunate" enterprise. "It exploits whatever it is in human nature that makes people slow down and gawk at an auto accident."

Squarely in the middle of the 100-piece exhibit is a black medical bag - Dr. Nick's - accented by 13 prescription bottles, one of them for the narcotic pain-relieving Dilaudid. It is one of the dozen or so prescription drugs found in Elvis's system after he was scooped from his bathroom floor, declared dead and inventoried like a chemical warehouse on Aug. 16, 1977.

Dr. Nick has no qualms about the medical bag, the only exhibit item with an in-your-face quality. Nichopoulos was indicted, tried and, in 1981, acquitted on charges he had overprescribed drugs to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and seven other people.

In fact, there are so few qualms that the label on the exhibit begins: "This bag could be the most priceless object in rock-n-roll history..."

The bag with the prescription baggage it implies prompts casino personnel to be wary of interviews with Dr. Nick. "It's very awkward for him, since he's aging, to be put on the spot during an interview," says Hollywood public relations and special events coordinator Jennifer Bennett.

But Dr. Nick has been there, done that, and he appears unflappable. The trial that ended in his acquittal in 1981 followed months of intense, finger-pointing, national exposure. Nichopoulos's story, part of it honed with the help of high-priced lawyer James Neal, became second nature to the doctor, who says he paid Neal $250,000. The doctor's license was revoked in 1995 on similar charges, and he now is retired. Dr. Nick doesn't flinch at any question involving drugs.

Eclectic collection
sees court tussle in Del.

WILMINGTON, Del. — Elvis wasn't in the building, but that didn't stop the first round in a court fight over who controls the right to exhibit unusual memorabilia touched by The King — such as the nasal device used to irrigate his sinuses before concerts.

Robert Gallagher, a Nevada entertainer who sings original rockabilly tunes, is battling Napa, Calif., businessman Richard Long over items collected by Elvis Presley's personal physician, George Nichopoulos.

Nichopoulos, known as "Dr. Nick," kept the items in boxes in his garage and vaults, said Gallagher, who calls the collection "the greatest find since the Titanic."

According to court documents, the exhibit, Dr. Nick's Memories of Elvis, includes:

•A laryngeal scope used to examine Presley's "chronic sore throat & tonsils."

A Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum handgun that Presley reportedly gave to Dr. Nick.

•A stuffed toy dog that Presley once threw at Dr. Nick.

•A prescription bottle dated Aug. 15, 1977, the day before Presley died.

•A gold watch engraved on the back with "from E.P. and Priscilla 10-29-70." Presley and wife Priscilla were married in 1967.

On Monday, the judge in the case, Leo Strine, granted a motion to let the collection be appraised for insurance purposes. Gallagher says it's worth $250 million.

The exhibit is stored in an airport hangar in Nevada, according to Long's lawyer, David Finger. Gallagher, however, said that "for security reasons" he would not confirm where the hangar is located. "My life would definitely be in danger, there's no question about it," he said. He did say the exhibit hasn't been shown since 2001.

According to Finger and court documents, Gallagher and Betty Franklin, his girlfriend and business partner, worked out a deal with Dr. Nick to exhibit the memorabilia for 50% of the profits, but Nichopoulos retained ownership of the collection. The deal also said that they would get 50% of the money if the exhibit was ever sold, court documents say. Nichopoulos, who is not a party to the litigation, could not be reached for comment.

Elvis Presley Enterprises of Memphis, the company that controls Presley's name, image and likeness, isn't involved with the Dr. Nick exhibit and has no comment on the dispute, said Kevin Kern, the company's media manager.

Long, chief executive of Regulus Group, a provider of payment services, says he put up $1.2 million for an exhibit company that he and Gallagher would own, along with Franklin. Once the money changed hands, Gallagher and Franklin experienced sellers' remorse and never delivered the collection to the new company, Finger said. He also said $1 million of the money went to buy the memorabilia collection from Nichopoulos.

"If Gallagher refunds Mr. Long's investment, we will walk away from the business in a New York minute," Finger said.

Long wants Strine to rule that his deal with Gallagher and Franklin is enforceable. If the partners can't get along, Long wants the judge to order that the collection be sold and the proceeds distributed.

Gallagher alleges that Long is trying to seize the exhibit without paying him, and he wants the Delaware Court of Chancery to rule that the deal with Long is not valid.

The court is hearing the case because the exhibit company was incorporated in Delaware.

The case might not go to trial until late summer.

On Monday, Strine questioned Finger about possible dissolution of the collection, perhaps through a famous auction house.

"Doesn't Sotheby's have a nasal irrigation specialist?" Strine asked.

Maureen Milford reports daily for The News Journal in Wilmington

"The confusion was that no one really investigated what happened at the time. Elvis had these (prescriptions) written in his name. The medications were for the whole orchestra, not just Elvis," says Nichopoulos. His testimony in 1981, supported by much of Elvis's entourage, convinced a jury that Nichopoulos had, in fact, rescued Elvis from drug overdoses and potential drug overdoses time and again.

Elvis could and did get prescriptions from other doctors or dentists. "There were always people with him who would give him drugs. Druggies always want to share," says Nichopoulos.

Elvis sought out one doctor who supposedly was using acupuncture to treat him. His patients were hailing the doctor as a miracle worker, but it turned out his needles were used to inject Demerol, says Nichopoulos. To help protect Elvis, Dr. Nick says he often substituted sugar pills for drugs. In fact, he says the exhibit's prescription bottle for Dilaudid was one of the few "prescriptions" he was able to order directly from a pharmaceutical company with sugar-pill placebos in place of the real thing.

Dr. Nick runs through the list of maladies for which Elvis was being treated and for which doctors might prescribe a wide range of drugs. There is what the doctor calls "secondary diabetes" treated with oral medication. Arthritis in his neck and back stemming from and aggravated by stage routines and karate. Glaucoma. Hypertension, or high blood pressure. An enlarged colon that contributed "to his bloated appearance." He had a chronic sore throat from overuse of his voice, and he had chronic sinus problems. Dr. Nick says he treated the sinus problems not with drugs but with a recipe of one quart water, one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon baking soda, snorted through a glass device on display in the exhibit.

There were rumors of bone cancer, but Nichopoulos says he's "not sure" about that and that doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital thought that abnormal cells that led to the cancer rumors may have been caused by something else.

The exhibit opened Jan. 7 and closes Thursday. By midweek this week, 4,500 people had seen it with almost no complaints about the medical bag and prescription reminders of Elvis's untimely demise. "If they complained, I would sit down with them and talk to them about it," says Dr. Nick, who plans to take the exhibit on tour, possibly to other casinos, to Europe and to parts of rural America where exhibitors seldom go.

Freeman, head of the private-label record company MCI (it stands for music, comedy and impressions), says the medical bag is, frankly, an intentionally controversial draw for the exhibit. "It's controversial, but it's history. It's real," he says, trying to restrict photographs to avoid close-up shots of the bag.

Other exhibition items include several autographed photographs of Elvis to Dr. Nick, pieces of Elvis's TCB ("taking care of business") jewelry, a green cat's-eye ring with filigreed gold accents and several watches that were gifts from Elvis. Freeman removes one gold Piaget watch from its glass case to show the inscription on the back: "To E. D. (Dr. Nick)." The E. D. stands for "Elvis's Doctor," says Freeman.

A third partner in the exhibition, Betty Franklin, a former office worker in Nichopoulos's medical practice, says one of the favorite items in the exhibit is a book, The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. The label on the exhibit says notes in the book's margin were made by Elvis, including the note, "When you're not in love, you're not alive."

A visitor on Tuesday night helped confirm Franklin's assessment. "I liked the Gibran saying best," says Betty Cooper, 74, of Fairdale, Ky., a suburb of Louisville. Cooper also thought it was a nice touch to put a single red rose on each exhibit table.

That was Freeman's idea, a rose, as if a tribute, in honor of Elvis at each table.

"I think it's very tasteful," says Dave Rooney, 54, of Nashville, an insurance manager for Mutual of Omaha. He says he and his wife, Nita, touring the exhibit with him, were moved by reminders of Elvis, the "fat" jokes that must have hurt and the drugs that helped put Elvis to sleep, wake him up and reduce his weight. "I think there was a lot of scapegoating going on over that (drugs). On the road, he would have other sources. He was just a human being like the rest of us."

Another visitor, Jimmy Hargrave, 60, a retired revenue commissioner and tax collector, of Atkins, Ala., says the exhibit "was interesting." And the medical bag was "no problem. Why would it be? I thought it was good to look at. I think everything about Elvis is interesting."

Betty Franklin, the partner with Freeman and Nichopoulos, says she doesn't understand the remarks by Soden at Elvis Presley Enterprises. "I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I personally would not make a judgment on anything I had not seen. We don't want to hurt Graceland. We wish them the best and wish they would wish us the best."

Soden admits he has not seen the exhibit, but has received several press releases inviting people to it. "You'd think they'd put their best spin on it, but it still sounds stupid . . . There's a whole world out there that's basically still responding to Elvis's music. Then there's Dr. Nick's medicine bag and some prescriptions on a table in Tunica. It leads back to tacky, tasteless and unfortunate. It's unfortunate they didn't have anything more to do with their time."

Franklin says she and her partners are trying to decide which invitation to accept for the next show - at a casino on the Gulf Coast, in Atlantic City or in Europe.

Press Conference

Dave Hebler

Sonny West

Red West