Dark secrets of the Presley family

Elvis Presley is an American icon whose music provided the soundtrack to a generation. As such, his life was always going to be remembered through not only the lens of nostalgia, but also the scandalous world of tabloid investigation. Naturally, his family was also along for the ride, enjoying both the highs and lows of life with The King.

Presley's one-and-only wife, Priscilla Presley, gave birth to their only child, Lisa Marie Presley, "exactly nine months after their wedding day, on Feb. 1, 1968," according to People. That's about where the idyllic portrait of this family ends.

Elvis and Priscilla's entire relationship was founded on their questionable start — they began seeing each other when she was 14 and he was 24, according to Biography — and that dynamic seemed to temper their entire marriage. Following their 1973 split, and Elvis' untimely death in 1977, things only slid further downhill for Priscilla and Lisa Marie. Drugs, money problems, and plastic surgery snafus are just some of the dark secrets of the Presley family. So, slip on your blue suede shoes and come along with us as we explore how life inside Graceland seemed, at times, more like a stay at the Heartbreak Hotel.

Maybe the fifth time will be a charm?

Few women have a marriage track record like Lisa Marie Presley. In 2016, news broke that Presley was ending her union with Michael Lockwood, whom she had been married to since 2006. Unfortunately, it was her fourth failed marriage. According to Us Weekly, she was married to Danny Keough from 1988 to 1994. Her second marriage was to Michael Jackson — Yes, that one — and that lasted from 1994 to 1996. Presley endured another short-lived marriage to Nicolas Cage from 2002 to 2004.

In 2007, with Lockwood then at her side, Presley explained her marital woes to Marie Claire. She said her first union failed, in part, because she was "very, very young," and Keough had "resentment about who [she] was." She added that the marriage "became a power struggle," because "it is hard for a man to be with a woman who is stronger, wealthier." So she ditched Keough for Jackson in what she calls, "the biggest mistake of [her] life." As for her rocky marriage to Cage? "Marrying him was a wild flurry, a crazy idea and being young, and 'Ahhh!'" she quipped.

As complicated as all of that sounds, Presley's eventual disunion from Lockwood was arguably the roughest. Following their split after ten years together, the exes locked horns in one of the most bitter custody and spousal support fights ever seen in Hollywood.

Lisa Marie and Michael Lockwood couldn't go on together

In early 2017, shortly after filing for divorce from her fourth husband, Michael Lockwood (above left), Lisa Marie Presley made the shocking claim she found inappropriate pictures and other materials on Michael's computer. As a result, the couple's then-8-year-old twin daughters were sent to live with Lisa Marie's mother, Priscilla Presley, in Los Angeles, according to ABC News. It all started in June 2016, when Lisa Marie contacted authorities claiming child abuse. In the aftermath of that situation, authorities seized items from the couple's Tennessee home.

While no criminal charges were filed, The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services launched and investigation that looked at both Lockwood and Presley, who eventually admitted she was struggling with drug addiction at the time (more on that in a moment.) According to Radar Online, "the investigation was dismissed in 2017 due to lack of evidence," however the custody battle raged on.

The same outlet reported in December 2018 that a family court judge sealed "all records, documents and pleadings" related to the custody case. However, Lockwood's lawyer claimed in court at the time that Presley was still attempting "to block his visitation and custody rights" by making the same claims she made that launched the DCFS investigation.

When you point one finger, three fingers are pointed back at you

When she pointed the finger at her estranged husband, Michael Lockwood, accusing him of abuse, Lisa Marie Presley opened the door for investigators to look into her own possible parental faults. This backfired in a big way. According to Radar Online, court records showed that Presley struggled for years with addiction to cocaine and prescription pills. This meant that her twin daughters were often left in the care of Lockwood and the couples' nannies, while Presley was "staying in bed a lot" and suffering from drug-fueled hallucinations.

Presley eventually got help, entering rehab several times, the last of which was in 2016 while the twins went to live with Priscilla Presley, their grandmother. In August 2018, Lisa Marie opened up to the Today show (via People) about her addiction struggles, telling the morning show that her therapist finds it remarkable that she is "still alive."

"I was not happy," Presley told Today, "And by the way, the struggle and addiction for me, started when I was 45 years old. It wasn't like it was happening all my life." Thankfully, by December 2018, sources told The Blast that Presley "has been sober for over two years," and that she's even "maintained custody of her kids for months."

A hunk, a hunk of burning debt

Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Lockwood's divorce battle also revealed that Presley was allegedly dealing with some serious financial issues as well. According to a February 2017 ABC News report, the scion of rock-and-roll royalty rejected Lockwood's request for $40,000 per month in spousal support, because her "$300 million fortune" was gone thanks to debt owed to the IRS and creditors.

Billboard dug deeper into Presley's finances, discovering that her lawyer claimed that she was "deeply in debt on a property in England," and owed the government $1 million in back taxes at the time. Lockwood's lawyers countered, claiming Presley earns about $5.6 million annually from her father's estate. An additional report by the Associated Press (via Fox News) revealed that Presley "gets a $100,000 monthly inheritance check" from her late father's estate, which also pays her $4,300 a month. That's on top of the "15 percent stake" she holds in Elvis Presley Enterprises, which the outlet claimed "earns millions of dollars a year." The estate also covers her health insurance.

Despite that seemingly steady stream of reported income in 2017, Presley claimed one year later that she was $16.7 million in debt due to financial mismanagement by her business manager, according to People. In other words, a bunch of rich people are fighting over a dead guy's money, and we, quite frankly, don't have the accounting background to sort it all out.

Was Lisa Marie cruel to her nanny?

Shortly after giving birth to twin girls, Lisa Marie Presley acquired the help of a nanny by the name of Christine White, according to TMZ. As the site detailed, White sued Presley because she felt she was overworked without proper compensation. The suit claimed White was tasked with caring for the babies around the clock, and that she worked seven-day weeks and was not granted breaks.

By the following year, White dropped her case against the star mom but not before Presley countersued, according to a follow-up report by TMZ. In her suit, Presley claimed White was fired after breaking her contract. She allegedly "took over 165 unauthorized photos and videos of the babies" — thus breaking the confidentiality agreement. That case was ultimately dismissed, and although it's unclear if it was settled, Presley seemed to have the last word on the matter, claiming White's original suit was born "out of utter greed and revenge because we terminated her." Yikes. 

Priscilla Presley's plastic surgeon was a devil in disguise

Priscilla Presley competed on Dancing With The Stars In 2008, but it wasn't her jitterbug that had viewers buzzing. Presley's face had changed so much, even columnists for reputable outlets like The Chicago Tribune were writing things like, "at once puffy and yanked, [Presley's] face, and its odd relationship to her neck, often takes on the dimensions of a Picasso painting." Yeesh.

It turns out, Presley fell victim to a terrible "doctor" who only wanted her cash. According to TMZ, she allowed an unlicensed physician, Daniel Serrano, to inject silicone into her face at a cost of "between $300 and $500" each. Even worse, the drugs and chemicals he used weren't even meant for cosmetic procedures — rather they were similar to silicone used "for auto parts in Argentina." According to Fox News, Presley later admitted that she fell for the scam. Serrano was eventually slapped with an 18 month prison sentence for importing the dubious injectables.

While TMZ also reported that Presley had "corrective work" to reverse the damage, more cosmetic surgery speculation returned in 2016, following Presley's appearance on the British talk show, Lorraine. Speaking with MSN about Presley's jarring new look, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Robert Stephen Mulholland (who hasn't treated Presley), said, "Her cheeks are a little over-augmented, her mouth is a little pulled. She has had a good start but a bad finish." Ouch.

Elvis had very particular taste in women

In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla Presley wrote that she "had just turned fourteen" when she met Elvis Presley, who was 24 years old and already an international superstar at the time. Despite the age difference, and the fact that Priscilla was barely into her teens, they started an intimate courtship that lasted seven years before they eventually married in 1967. Priscilla also detailed how she begged Elvis to take her virginity at 15 years old, but he refused, telling her she was "too young." However, she also wrote of their "urgent" and "passionate lovemaking," which stopped short of full consummation until they were married — at Elvis' insistence.

That information is odd enough standing on its own, but it becomes even stranger when paired with an anecdote from Elvis' ex-girlfriend Linda Thompson's own memoir, A Little Thing Called Life: From Elvis' Graceland to Bruce Jenner's Caitlyn & Songs in Between, published in 2016. Thompson, who dated Elvis after his marriage to Priscilla ended, was also a virgin. This didn't bother The King. In fact, he allegedly told Thompson, "I want to preserve you as long as you need." They eventually consummated their love after two months of dating.

And if two instances makes a coincidence, how many make a pattern? According to Broadly's admittedly biased breakdown of several Elvis biographers, who traced the "Hound Dog" singer's alleged preference for very young girls, the answer seems to be that there are more than enough.

Why Priscilla Presley decided she needed to walk alone

As Priscilla Presley was 14 years old when her courtship with Elvis Presley began, it's no surprise that her own life was quickly overshadowed. Speaking with Jonathan Ross in 2015 (via HuffPost), Priscilla said, "I was kind of lost really in who I was earlier in my life, I really didn't have teenage years."

In her first-ever interview in 1973, Priscilla told Ladies Home Journal (via Elvis Australia) that she decorated their Holmby Hills mansion just how Elvis wanted it, even though it wasn't her particular taste. "You've got to do what a man likes … and he's not going to be happy with anything feminine, that's for sure," Priscilla said. But despite Priscilla's efforts at homemaking, she and Elvis inevitably lived separate lives. Priscilla pursued hobbies (like karate and ballet), while Elvis preferred to just stay home when he wasn't on tour.

As a result, they "lived in a bubble," Priscilla told Loose Women. That didn't work for Priscilla, a young woman who never really got a chance to discover herself. "I saw how Elvis had to be. I mean, so publicized," Priscilla told Ladies Home Journal, adding, "I could live my life and do what I wanted, but it was not possible for Elvis to do this. It was a shame." Sadly, the pair, though seemingly still in love, just couldn't make it work. According to the Memphis Press-Scimitar (via Collectibles.com), their divorce was finalized on October 9, 1973. 

Elivs didn't want anyone rubbernecking his … neck

Fame is a terrible drug that often pushes stars into the oddest methods of trying to stay thin and beautiful. As Linda Thompson wrote in her memoir (via Us Weekly), her ex-lover Elvis Presley was no different. He famously battled both drugs and weight problems in the public eye. The latter would drive him to bizarre measures to keep the weight off — including an alleged two-week period of sedation.

During the weight-loss sleeping period, Elvis mainly slept "except for free brief periods each day when he woke up long enough to go to the bathroom and eat a small portion of food," Linda wrote. "Then he was sedated again and went back to sleep." He was also known to crash diet on just 500 calories a day, she claimed.

Another alleged secret from Thompson's relationship to the iconic singer? He wore high collars to conceal his neck, which he apparently hated. She writes he wore the trademark style to keep his "skinny little chicken neck" hidden from the public. At age 40, after years of wear and tear, Elvis allegedly opted for a facelift. "There has been speculation through the years that Elvis had his eyes done or some other mystery procedure," Thompson wrote. "But that mini facelift was the extent of his plastic surgery."

Elvis' suspicious mind about other people's silverware

Speaking to Jonathan Ross (via the Daily Mail) in 2015, Priscilla Presley revealed that her late ex-husband was a serious germaphobe. In fact, he refused to use anyone else's silverware — even at restaurants.

"He never liked to go to people's homes to eat because [he] didn't like eating with other people's silverware, so he would take his own silverware," she revealed of his dark secret. "And he didn't like drinking out of cups that other people had drunk out of, even restaurants or other people's homes. … So when he drank, he would drink where the handle was, knowing that no one would ever drink at that side."

Although that tidbit of knowledge had not yet been publicly known, Priscilla says Elvis was that way even as a young boy. "I think he just didn't like to put his mouth where other people put their mouth, with silverware, things that you put in your mouth," she added.

There's a fake Lisa running around

Everyone wants a piece of the massive Presley fortune, which makes the family a target for lawsuits. According to a 2011 report by The Hollywood Reporter, a woman named Lisa Johansen believes she is Elvis' real daughter and that Lisa Marie has stolen her identity. As such, she filed a $130 million suit against the family claiming both defamation and emotional distress.

Johansen first became known after publishing I, Lisa Marie: The True Story of Elvis Presley's Real Daughter. In the bizarre 1998 memoir, Johansen claimed that after Elvis' death in 1977, Priscilla, forced her to assume another identity for fear of her life. Johansen also commissioned the United Kingdom to investigate her claim of identity theft, then later retracted her lawsuit against Presley's estate after her controversial trip to Graceland, and her refusal to submit to a DNA test.

It's unclear whether she re-filed the lawsuit, but in 2015, Radar Online reported that Johansen returned to Graceland that year, and that she said was "considering an appeal" to suit that had previously been "dismissed."

The sad story of Scatter

Elvis Presley biographer Alanna Nash detailed the dark tale of Presley's pet chimpanzee, Scatter, in her 2005 book, Elvis and the Memphis Mafia. Essentially used as a party favor that they trained to harass women, Scatter lived a hard life and died terribly.

Lamar Fike and Billy Smith a.k.a. members of Elvis' entourage known as the Memphis Mafia, told Nash of their experiences with the unusual pet. Scatter was "a sudshead," according to Smith, who noted "he could down a fifth of liquor before you knew it." Fike recalled his own attempt at killing Scatter by throwing him in a bathtub full of water and shocking him with "a kind of cattle prod," because he "hated that damn chimp." Smith remembered another time when Scatter was beaten by a woman at a party for misbehaving. "He had a head like a bowling ball, but she put a dent in it," Smith said.

Scatter died after he was banished to a cage "behind Graceland," in what Fike described as "a sad end." Smith speculated that Scatter was poisoned by one of the maids who was tasked with feeding him after he was abandoned by Elvis and the crew who were out on the road. Although it's unclear exactly how he died, Fike suggested, "He couldn't stand being left alone after all the attention he'd gotten. He died out there by himself, hanging on to the side of the cage."