Tragic Details About Lisa Marie Presley

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The following article includes mentions of addiction, mental health struggles, and suicide.

She was a "singer, songwriter, philanthropist, mother and daughter of 'the King'" — yup, Lisa Marie Presley was truly multi-faceted. Elvis' only child modeled, put out albums, became a proud mom of four, and even testified before Congress against the sky-rocketing number of young children receiving prescription medication, such as antidepressants and Ritalin. Elvis and Priscilla Presley's daughter did not have a perfect life, however. Far from it.

As Presley's own bio pointed out, she "was tasked with the daunting challenge of finding her own path while still maintaining her strong family connection" — and she didn't always succeeded. Just take her net worth as an example. While Presley's late father was worth $20 million (adjusted for inflation as of July 2020), his sole heir was in the red with a net worth of -$16 million. But her financial struggles were just one small part of the many hardships Lisa Marie Presley faced in her life. 

These are tragic details about Lisa Marie Presley.

Lisa Marie Presley lost her father at a young age

Lisa Marie Presley had "a harsh introduction to death early on," as she told "Larry King Live" in 2003. It was August 16, 1977, when, at 9 years old, she lost her father, Elvis Presley. His lifeless body was found on the bathroom floor inside Graceland by his girlfriend, Ginger Alden. Lisa Marie, who also later saw his body that night, quickly called her father's ex, Linda Thompson. As Thompson told Larry King, the young Presley would "call me from time to time because we were very close," but this time, she had a "desperate tone in her voice." That's when "she said, 'Linda, it's Lisa ... My daddy's dead.'"

When King asked Presley to elaborate on what exactly happened that morning, she brushed off the subject. Years later, however, she did relive that tragic day. "It was 4 AM. I was supposed to be asleep, actually. He found me," she recalled in 2018, per Radar. He kissed her goodnight and that was "the last time [she] saw him alive."

Elvis was battling an addiction to food and prescription drugs and, although Lisa Marie was too young to fully understand, she knew something was wrong. "I remember first seeing his stomach and worried to death over that," she said. Following his death, Elvis' body remained in Graceland for three days, but it didn't spook the young Lisa Marie. "There was something very oddly comforting about that, which made it not necessarily real to me," she remembered.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Michael Jackson made her feel 'disposable'

In May 1994, Lisa Marie Presley married Michael Jackson in a top-secret ceremony. Confirming the union that August, she declared, per People, "I am very much in love with Michael, I dedicate my life to being his wife." In 1996, they called it quits.

Explaining why the union dissolved, Presley told Oprah Winfrey in 2010, "There was a very profound point in the marriage when he had to make a decision: Was it the drugs and the sort of vampires, or me?" she revealed. "And he pushed me away." Clarifying that "vampires" were "sycophants," she highlighted the similarities between her husband and late father, saying, "The one thing that correlates with Michael and with my father on this subject is that they had the luxury of creating whatever reality around them they wanted to create." What's more, she felt "disposable, and it was the same with my father."

Years later, in 2019, Jackson's personal assistant, Scott Shaffer, told The Sun he "noticed things kind of going downhill between them because he wouldn't tell her things — like where he was going." He believes the final straw came when Jackson "was in New York filming an HBO special in around 1995 and he collapsed on stage." When Presley arrived at the hospital, "he gave her an hour," then asked her to leave. "At that point, she'd just had enough and that was literally when she called her lawyer to start divorce proceedings," said Shaffer. 

Lisa Marie Presley tried to save Michael Jackson and 'failed'

Lisa Marie Presley loved taking care of Michael Jackson. In fact, she told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 it was a high point of her life. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when Presley realized she couldn't help Jackson deal with his demons. When the pop superstar died in 2009, Presley opened up their marriage on her MySpace blog, sharing how difficult it was to watch "the exact scenario I saw happen on August 16th, 1977 happening again right now with Michael (a sight I never wanted to see again)."

Placing much of the blame on herself, she wrote (via, "The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the L.A. County Coroners office for his autopsy." Noting that 14 years earlier, she, along with Jackson's family, were worried that that was exactly what would happen, Presley admitted that all she wanted during their marriage was to save him from that very fate.

Presley also revealed how, following their divorce, she obsessively wondered what she could have done differently. "In trying to save him, I almost lost myself," she noted. "I became very ill and emotionally/spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him."

Her marriage to Nicolas Cage was a 'big mistake'

Lisa Marie Presley had a penchant for headline-making weddings. In August 2002, she married Nicolas Cage in a top-secret Hawaiian ceremony, and by November 2002, the couple had filed for divorce. "I'm sad about this, but we shouldn't have been married in the first place," she admitted, calling the nuptials a "big mistake."

The following year, during a May 2003 interview with Larry King, Presley explained what went wrong, saying, "It looked attractive like I could be equal. Similar situations, similar backgrounds. So we connected, we had a great connection," she shared. "We were both a bit — we're sort of these gypsy spirited, you know, tyrannical pirates. And one pirate marries another they will sink the ship basically is what it comes down to," she quipped.

Asked how soon after the ceremony she had realized her mistake, Presley told King, "We'd been together for two years before we got married, so — it was one of those things where you're marrying hoping that you're going to either stabilize it or it's going to, you know, accentuate all that was going on prior to what was problematic. So it kind of did the latter, that's all," she concluded. What's more, the tabloids also played a part in their downfall by targeting Cage's Elvis fandom. Presley added that she and Cage realized, "We cannot be, because you're an Elvis freak ... which is said about both of us, actually."

Recording her debut album was far from a great experience

In 2003, at the age of 35, Lisa Marie Presley decided to finally follow in her father's footsteps and release her debut album. Titled "To Whom It May Concern," the record featured 11 tracks and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. Its first single, "Lights Out," touched on "the overwhelming burden of being Elvis' daughter," as the track's co-writer, Glen Ballard, told Express. But despite Presley putting her heart on the line, critics took her personal approach to the album to task. Slant, for example, found that "To Whom It May Concern" had too much baggage and criticized the fact that "sentiments get jumbled in her grand effort to make an emotional or socio-political statement."

According to Ballard, who opened up about the recording process nearly two decades later in 2021, such negative feedback was exactly what Presley was afraid of. According to the songwriter, lyricist, and music producer, he sensed what the outlet called the pressure Presley felt to live up to her dad's legacy. Of the recording process, he noted that "it wasn't easy and I'm not so sure, all that fun for her. But we certainly tried to make it fun." 

However, Ballard added that, in the end, it was an important experience for Presley because, "I think it was a cathartic thing for her to do."

Lisa Marie Presley battled her own demons

In a 2003 Paper interview, Lisa Marie Presley admitted she began to mix drugs and alcohol at a young age. After that, she kept quiet about her battle until her 2016 divorce from Michael Lockwood brought her struggle into the open. According to a 2017 deposition obtained by Radar, Presley admitted to using cocaine during the last three years of her marriage, revealed she was also taking painkillers and opioids, and went to rehab several times, including stints in Mexico. She added that she "didn't mix the pills and alcohol until like the last two years."

In August 2016, US Weekly confirmed that Presley sought help for her addiction to prescription pills at LA's Hills Treatment Center, and, according to Radar, she returned to rehab in late 2018. Presley shared more on her opioid addiction in a 2019 foreword for The United States of Opioids, writing, per Yahoo! Entertainment, that it started in her 40s. "I was recovering after the [2008] birth of my daughters, Vivienne and Finley, when a doctor prescribed me opioids for pain," she revealed. "It only took a short-term prescription of opioids in the hospital for me to feel the need to keep taking them." 

Noting she was happy to still be alive, Presley added that she was thankful "to have four beautiful children who have given me a sense of purpose that has carried me through dark times."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Inside her son's tragic death

Lisa Marie Presley suffered unspeakable heartbreak yet again when, in July 2020, 27-year-old Benjamin Keough, her only son and second child with first husband Danny Keough, died by suicide. Presley's manager, Roger Widynowski, confirmed the tragic news, saying (via BBC) that his client was "heartbroken, inconsolable and beyond devastated. She adored that boy," He added, "He was the love of her life." While he wouldn't offer any details about the circumstances surrounding Keough's death, the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner later confirmed (via TMZ) that Presley's son had died by suicide at their home (no one else was present at the time).

While Presley didn't speak out about the loss at the time, her mother, Priscilla, got candid on Facebook. "These are some of the darkest days of my family's life. The shock of losing Ben has been devastating," she shared, adding, "Each day I wake up I pray it will get better. Then, I think of my daughter and the pain she is going through as she was a doting mother."

Presley's oldest daughter and Keough's sister, Riley, also opened her heart on Instagram, revealing, "Mornings are the hardest. I forget you're gone. I can't cry because of the fear that I will never stop." Calling Benjamin "too sensitive for this harsh world," she wrote, "I hope you give me strength to endure the giant hole you've left in my heart. I guess this is true heartbreak."

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Lisa Marie Presley was forced out of her home

Following the tragic loss of her son, Lisa Marie Presley decided to leave the $1.8 million mansion where he died — and its heartbreaking memories — behind. According to The Sun, Presley and her family had been living in the home since 2017, but had temporarily moved out into a Beverly Hills hotel due to mold problems. It was during this time, while the house stood empty, that Benjamin returned on his own and took his own life. While Presley was forced to visit the premises to speak with police, when everything was taken care of, she left for good — and had no plans of going back.

"They were already dealing with the mold problem and now Lisa doesn't want to return, she is too distressed and doesn't ever want to relive that morning," a source told the outlet. "She had been looking for a rental while staying at the hotel, going back and forth to the house only to sort things out, and she's now found somewhere." The insider added that "it's the right place for the family to hole up for a while and grieve privately as they navigate this awful time in their lives."

She couldn't protect her son from the fame monster

Lisa Marie Presley was a proud mom who had found purpose in her four kids: Riley and Benjamin Keough (from her first husband, musician Danny Keough) and twin daughters Harper and Finley Lockwood (from her fourth husband, musician Michael Lockwood). In 2014, she told Healthy Living that they were extremely close. "Wherever I am, they have their rooms and live with me," she continued, adding, "I just smother them in love and I am also ferociously protective." Presley also said that it was her priority to "make sure they are happy and healthy," but unfortunately, she couldn't help her son overcome his demons.

According to Benjamin's friend, musician Brandon Howard, who spoke with People following Benjamin's death, Presley's son had depression and struggled with living up to the Presley legacy. "It's a tough thing when you have a lot of pressure with your family and living up to a name and an image," he said. "It's almost like you're pressured into having to be a musician, having to be an actor." Meanwhile, writer Tony Ortega reported that, over the years, Benjamin also struggled with substance abuse and had been in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction shortly before his death.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Lisa Marie Presley's divorce from Michael Lockwood was beyond nasty

After a decade of marriage to Michael Lockwood, Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce in 2016, and a years-long legal battle — which just kept getting nastier — ensued. While Presley accused her ex of everything from stealing millions to sexual misconduct, Lockwood fired back with accusations that Presley was paranoid, taking as many as 80 opiate pills a day, and using their kids as bait to discredit him. What's more, in February 2018, Presley was ordered to pay Lockwood's $100,000 legal fees. Jump to December 2019, and he was ordered to pay her $140,000 legal fees.

Money was a major point of contention for the exes, with Lockwood arguing that he didn't fully understand the couple's 2017 postnuptial agreement (in which they agreed their assets would remain separate) when he signed it. But in August 2018, a judge ruled the post-nup was valid, and Lockwood seemed to turn his attention to the custody of their twin girls. In July 2020, right after Benjamin Keough's death, Lockwood filed a motion asking for sole custody, claiming he was worried Lisa Marie would relapse and jeopardize the children's safety.

It wasn't until May 2021, nearly five years after they split, that US Weekly confirmed they were officially divorced. However, they had yet to settle such details as "child support, financial disclosures, alleged misappropriation of properties, and attorneys' fees and costs."

Did her business manager lose all of her money?

You might assume that being Elvis Presley's daughter entitled Lisa Marie Presley to a large sum of cash, but by February 2018, her net worth had dwindled to a mere $14,000. At least, that's what Presley claimed in a lawsuit against her former business manager, Barry Siegel. According to Radar, she accused him of diminishing her $100 million fortune through his "reckless and negligent mismanagement and self serving-ambition" and sued him for "breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, constructive fraud negligent, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and accounting."

According to The Blast, Lisa Marie said in the suit that Siegel "put his own best interests ahead of her" and sold off 85% of her interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises, leaving her with over $500,000 in credit card debt. And that's not even scratching the surface. As People reported, her overall debt was a whopping $16.7 million. Siegel denied such claims and countersued Lisa Marie in June 2019, per The Blast, alleging that she wasted away her own money and that she owed him $800,000 in fees for all of the work he did before being fired in 2016. 

Reports from September 2019 show that their legal battle was still raging on and, following Lisa Marie's death, MailOnline reported that the case remained unsettled.

The star's heartbreaking final days

Lisa Marie Presley's final public appearance was at the 2023 Golden Globes when she walked the red carpet in support of the "Elvis" biopic. Speaking with reporters ahead of the ceremony, Presley appeared to slur her words slightly and was visibly unstable on her feet as, during an interview with Extra, she had to grab onto her talent manager, Jerry Schilling, for support. However, she appeared excited for the show and, once inside, she was seen wiping away tears when Austin Butler won for portraying her late father.

Just two days earlier, Presley helped celebrate what would have been her dad's 88th birthday. While speaking to fans at Graceland, she appeared to offer a glimpse into her saddened mental state as she proclaimed, per MailOnline, "I keep saying you are the only people who can bring me out of the house." Indeed, following her death, a source told The U.S. Sun that losing her son, Benjamin Keough, to suicide in 2020 had turned her into a recluse. "Her world completely fell apart when he died," the insider said. "She found it so difficult to cope and barely left the house for months after his death." They added that Presley had turned to her mother, Priscilla, and her ex, Danny Keough, for support and that her three daughters had kept her going. Sadly, on January 12, 2023, Lisa Marie Presley's tragedy-filled life ended with her tragic death at age 54.

What we know about Lisa Marie Presley's tragic death

Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' only child, died suddenly on January 12, 2023. Presley suffered cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California. According to the outlet, a housekeeper found her unresponsive in her bedroom at which point her ex, Danny Keough, arrived home and performed CPR. When paramedics got there, they found she had suffered "full arrest" but were able to bring back a pulse, after which they rushed her to hospital. Once there, Page Six learned that her heart stopped again on several occasions. Presley's mother, Priscilla Presley, confirmed later that day that her daughter hadn't made it. "It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us," she said. "She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known."

Tributes poured in instantly. "Lisa baby girl, I'm so sorry," wrote John Travolta on Instagram. "I'll miss you but I know I'll see you again." Meanwhile, Pink called her "a rare gem," Octavia Spencer dubbed her a "bright star," and Tom Hanks posted, "We are heartbroken over the loss of Lisa Marie Presley. Absolutely broken ..." Her ex, Nicolas Cage, said in a statement, "She lit up every room, and I am heartbroken. I find some solace believing she is reunited with her son Benjamin." May she rest in peace.