George C. Nichopoulos
George C. Nichopoulos
George Constantine Nichopoulos
October 29, 1927
|Died||February 24, 2016 (aged 88)|
|Alma mater||Vanderbilt University School of Medicine|
|Known for||Elvis Presley's personal physician|
George Constantine Nichopoulos (October 29, 1927 – February 24, 2016), also known as Dr. Nick, was an American physician of Greek descent. He was best known as Elvis Presley's personal physician and was controversial due to the singer's longstanding abuse of prescription drugs. Although Nichopoulos retained his medical license after Presley’s death, the Tennessee Medical Board permanently revoked Nichopoulos’s license in light of his practice of overprescribing to many patients over multiple years.
Early life and education
From 1946 until 1948, he served in the Army Medical Corps in Germany before studying at the University of the South, where he received his B.S. in 1951. Nichopoulos subsequently earned his M.D. at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1959.
Nichopoulos began treating Presley in 1967 for saddle pain, and took it on as a full-time job in 1970 until Presley's death in 1977. His son Dean Nichopoulos sometimes served as an assistant for Presley, taking care of his wardrobe. George Nichopoulos was not present at Graceland the day Elvis died. In fact, he was so hard to contact that he only had the time to jump into the departing ambulance, which had not been called immediately after finding Elvis' lifeless body. Saying that he "attempted to save his life" might be exaggerated, since it was obvious to even non-medical staff that Elvis had been dead for several hours when his entourage found him in his bathroom (his face was rigid (to the point that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was impossible, said Joe Esposito) and had already turned blue (cook Nancy Rooks' testimony + she heard a "loud noise upstairs" around 9:30 - 10:00 a.m., about 4 hours before Elvis' body was finally discovered); nurse Marion Cocke: "It was so evident he had been gone a long time"). There were some revival attempts at the hospital, just in case, during which Nichopoulos was present, but it was clear after 15–20 minutes that it did not make any sense. Nichopoulos was also present at the autopsy, but the contents of Elvis' stomach had been pumped out and thrown away shortly after his arrival at the hospital. Nichopoulos served as a pallbearer at the funeral.
In 1979, the doctor was shot in the chest while watching a football game; he was not seriously injured. No suspect was ever arrested. In a 1993 interview with Dutch radio host Jorrit van der Kooi, Nichopoulos claimed it must have been an angry Elvis fan.
In 1985, he started a solo practice called We Care, Inc.
After he was stripped of his credentials in 1995, Nichopoulos worked for a short time as Jerry Lee Lewis's road manager. He later took a job evaluating medical insurance claims by FedEx employees. No longer a doctor and in need of money, Nichopoulos sold many of the items he received from Elvis at auctions, and at one point had a travelling exhibit, showing off his doctor's bag with some of the medications he prescribed for Elvis.
In 1980, Nichopoulos was indicted on 14 counts of overprescribing drugs to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and twelve other patients. The district attorney ruled out murder charges because of the conflicting medical opinions about the cause of Presley's death. In the first eight months of 1977 alone, Nichopoulos had prescribed over 10,000 doses of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones for Presley. Nichopoulos claimed he had tried in vain to reduce Elvis's 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 1993, Nichopoulos had his license permanently revoked by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, and was branded a Doctor Feelgood in the press, after it was revealed that he had been overprescribing to numerous patients for years. Nichopoulos claimed it was for patients that suffered from inoperable chronic pain, but he was unsuccessful in his defense. During his many appeals, Nichopoulos 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.
George Nichopoulos died in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 24, 2016, after an extended illness, aged 88. He is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
- George Nichopoulos. "The King and Dr. Nick: What Really Happened to Elvis and Me". Books.google.com. p. 267. Retrieved 2016-02-27.
- At 5:30, Elvis' daytime cook Nancy Rooks tells what happened on August 16, 1977, around 2:00 p.m. (this is from her book and/or an interview): "... with the hollering they were doing *they just knew Elvis was gone*. So by then I was trying to get in touch with Dr. Nichopoulos. *I called him on every phone he had, but I didn't get any answer*. So his Auntie was going to get her doctor out there, but he said 'No, he is not my patient'. So by that time somebody called the ambulance and, somehow, they got in touch with Elvis's doctor." "So the ambulance was not called right away?" "No, it wasn't." "When they brought him down, he looked like he was asleep *with blue spots on his face*". Nancy said she *heard a loud noise upstairs around 9:30 a.m.* "But I just thought they were into it" (i.e. having an argument, like earlier). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR2CFZ7WuGA
- Elvis' nurse Marian Cocke in 1975-77, who also worked at the Baptist Hospital, at 1:35: "They said that Elvis was in the Emergency Room." "So I went down there, they were working on him, and I asked them to stop. *Because it was SO evident he had been gone A LONG TIME*." Commentator:"And with that, doctors pronounced Elvis Presley dead at 3:30 p.m. central time in the Baptist Hospital E.R." in the video entitled "Elvis' Nurse Says Goodbye" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MOxteMFdnM
- "They worked on Elvis a good 15-20 minutes" at 20'15" of video "Elvis August 16, 1977 Defibrillator Baptist Hospital Mac McQueen Story The Spa Guy" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzKNJBIPTRw
- At 15:25, 1) Dr Noel Florendo: a) "No gross evidence of a heart attack", b) "Elvis Presley most probably died of the interaction of several drugs, i.e. polypharmacy."; at 17:45 "codeine, morphine, qaalude, valium, valmid, placidyl, nembutal, phenobarbital, pentobarbital & butabarbital" ("all downers, i.e. central nervous system depressants, several of which are addictive") were found in Elvis' dead body; and at 18:10 "The contents of his stomach were pumped out & destroyed, although they are well-known KEY elements to analyze the cause of death!" in "The Elvis Cover-Up 1979" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyKWLmi3wPo "
- Higginbotham, Adam (11 August 2002). "Elvis special: Doctor Feelgood". the Guardian.
- Adam Higginbotham (August 11, 2002). "Elvis' special Doctor Feelgood". The Observer.
- Lauren Marmaduke (October 21, 2011). "Music's Top 5 Dubious 'Dr. Feelgoods'". Houston Press.
- David Batty (27 June 2009). "In the public eye - feelgood physicians". The Guardian.
- Steven Mikulan (November 16, 2009). "Dr. Feelgoods and Their Celeb Patients: Who Needs Who? (PART 2: Hollywood's history of addicted stars and the doctors who supply them". The Wrap.
- Steven Mikulan. "Jailing Dr. Feelgood: Prescriptions-on-Demand Gets Riskier (First of 2 Parts:Prosecutors are targeting celeb-friendly docs, but making charges stick is tough". The Wrap.
- "Elvis Presley: His 'Dr. Conrad Murray' Dies at 88". TMZ.com. Retrieved 2016-02-27.