Tragic Details About Priscilla Presley

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Priscilla Presley's life changed completely when she met one of the most iconic musicians in U.S. history, Elvis Presley. Priscilla met the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" when she was only 14 years old. At the time, her stepfather had been stationed in Germany, where Elvis was also serving in the U.S. Army after being drafted. Priscilla revealed at an event for her book, "Elvis and Me," that her parents weren't thrilled about their daughter dating the then-24-year-old musician. "My father said, 'Absolutely not!' My mother said, 'I won't let you walk across the street to see Elvis Presley!' I knew this was going to be a battle," Priscilla said of her family's initial reactions when she wanted to party with Elvis (via Closer Weekly).

Still, the pair hit it off and returned home to the U.S. as a couple. Priscilla dated the star for eight years before finally getting married in 1967. She worked hard to become an actor while her husband continued to solidify his spot as a rock 'n' roll legend. Priscilla went on to earn a role as Jenna Wade in the successful TV series Dallas (1978). It seemed as though she and Elvis had it all — money, fame fortune, and a whirlwind romance. In actuality, Priscilla and Elvis' relationship had its problems.

Unfortunately for Priscilla, her connection to Elvis was only one of the many sources of tragedy in her life. The actor-turned-businesswoman's resilience might surprise you.

Priscilla Presley's grandson's death was 'devastating'

Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis and Priscilla Presley's daughter, lost her son when he died by suicide in July 2020. Benjamin Keough was only 27 years old when he passed away. Keough's tragic death seemingly hit Priscilla hard. She shared an emotional message to Facebook following his passing: "These are some of the darkest days of my family's life," the grandmother wrote in part. "The shock of losing Ben has been devastating." 

She went on to share her condolences for Keough's grieving parents. "Each day I wake up I pray it will get better," Priscilla said. "Then, I think of my daughter and the pain she is going through as she was a doting mother. Ben's father, Danny, who is completely lost, as Ben was his only son." Lisa Marie took a long break away from social media following her son's passing, so it seems that Priscilla stepped up to issue this statement in her absence.

Lisa Marie returned to Instagram in 2022 to address concerned fans and to show her support for director Baz Luhrmann's "ELVIS." "...I haven't posted in quite some time because there really isn't much to say, as I am and will forever be mourning the loss of my son," she wrote in the caption of the post. "Navigating through this hideous grief that absolutely destroyed and shattered my heart and my soul into almost nothing has swallowed me whole." She went on to explain that she's been prioritizing her family during this difficult time.

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

Tabloids were ruthless regarding Priscilla and Elvis Presley's relationship

Priscilla Presley experienced the downside of being a celebrity's wife early on in her relationship with Elvis Presley. The world had its eyes on the then-newlyweds, and it seemed that Priscilla was overwhelmed by all of the outside opinions. At an event for her book, "Elvis and Me," (via Closer Weekly), she explained that Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker, "didn't really want Elvis [to have] a steady girlfriend." As a result, the couple tried to keep their relationship out of the public eye. Unfortunately for Parker, Priscilla and Elvis were not able to keep their love a secret for long.

Tabloids couldn't get enough of this famous couple, which made things stressful for Priscilla in the early days of her marriage. "The beginning [of the marriage] was very difficult, but I knew what I was in for because I saw it at a very young age," she said at the Graceland exhibit at Bendigo Art Gallery (via The Guardian). The media was so ruthless that Priscilla avoided newspapers and magazines when she went grocery shopping. "I found out how vicious people could be ... there were rumors I was pregnant, and that's why he got married, and I'm going, 'Oh my God, this is not gonna be good for me," she revealed.

Elvis Presley was drawn to Priscilla Presley for the wrong reasons

Elvis and Priscilla Presley's uncomfortable age gap made for a questionable relationship dynamic. At the start of their relationship, Elvis was 24 years old while Priscilla was only 14. To make matters worse, Elvis was reportedly fond of the then-teen's youth. As told in "Sergeant Presley: Our Untold Story of Elvis' Missing Years," Elvis supposedly told his friend, author Rex Mansfield, "She's young enough that I can train her any way I want." 

Priscilla opened up about the relationship in a piece she wrote for People in 1985. "Something in his Southern upbringing had taught him that the 'right' girl was to be saved for marriage," she shared. "I was that girl. At the same time, he molded me into his woman. I wore the clothes, hairstyle and makeup of his careful choosing."

On ITV's "Loose Women," Priscilla explained that Elvis' world took over every aspect of hers. "I didn't have my teenage years as a normal girl, obviously, so I had to adapt. ... I just kind of followed what he did. I mean, you lived his life." It seemed as though Priscilla had very little independence. She continued: "You saw the movies he wanted to see. You listened to the music he listened to, you'd go to places that he would go." Although Priscilla often speaks fondly of Elvis, it appears that the couple's relationship wasn't the healthiest from the beginning.

Her father died in a plane crash

Priscilla Presley had a close relationship with her stepfather, Paul Beaulieu. For years, Presley believed that Beaulieu was her biological father because he raised her as his own, alongside her mother. The actor revealed in her memoir, "Elvis and Me," that she uncovered the identity of her biological father while looking through a box of her family's belongings. "...inside the box was a picture of my mother with her arm around a strange man and, sitting on her lap, an infant. On the back of the photo was inscribed, 'Mommy, Daddy, Priscilla.'" Her mother admitted that Priscilla's birth father, Lieutenant James Wagner, had actually died in a plane crash when she was only six months old.

Priscilla opened up about her mother's reaction to the discovery in a piece she wrote for People. "Mother suggested — so as not to endanger our family closeness — that I keep my discovery from the younger children, Michelle and Don (Jeff, Tim and Tom hadn't yet been born)," the actor penned. "I respected her wishes. Years later, in a delicate discussion, it was brought up at a family gathering. It brought us all closer together." Priscilla wore a gold locket that her father gave her mother, envisioning her dad as her "guardian angel" (via "Elvis and Me").

Priscilla's relationship with Elvis Presley was riddled with infidelity

Elvis and Priscilla Presley's relationship was far from perfect. It turns out that the musician did not remain loyal to his wife after she gave birth. Priscilla opened up about how her marriage took a turn for the worse after pregnancy in her memoir, "Elvis and Me." "[Elvis] had mentioned to me before we were married that he had never been able to make love to a woman who'd had a child," she explained. He held to this rule for some time after Lisa Marie Presley was born. Priscilla wrote in a diary entry during this difficult period: "I am beginning to doubt my own sexuality as a woman. My physical and emotional needs were unfulfilled."

It appears Elvis did lose attraction to his wife after she endured childbirth; he went on to cheat throughout the relationship. On Australia's 7News, Priscilla recalled, "You know, he wasn't faithful. ... I tried to turn my back to that, but I just didn't want to share him. Simple as that. As much as he wanted to be married and have a family, I don't know if he was ever cut to be married. Because I don't think he could ever, ever be faithful to one woman." Elvis reportedly began his relationship with actor Ann-Margret after the two met on the set of "Viva Las Vegas" in 1963. This was before he married Priscilla but presumably while he was already dating her. 

Priscilla Presley filed for divorce

It seems that Elvis' controlling nature was too much for Priscilla, and she eventually reached a breaking point. In an interview with "Loose Women" on ITV, the businesswoman admitted, "You really kind of lost yourself." She revealed the reason behind her divorce, and you might be surprised to hear that she had no hard feelings toward Elvis Presley. "I did not divorce him because I didn't love him. He was the love of my life, truly. If anything, I left because — and I still loved him — I needed to find out what the world was like, really," she said during the interview. Though Elvis would always be a part of her world, Priscilla was ready to experience life through her own lens.

At the end of her marriage to Elvis, in 1972, Priscilla and karate instructor Mike Stone had an affair (as detailed in "Elvis and Me"). This relationship may also have been a factor in Elvis and Priscilla's divorce. It seemed that Priscilla didn't have the same struggles in her new romance; she revealed to Ladies' Home Journal that Stone's schedule wasn't as demanding as her ex-husband's (via Express).

Elvis Presley's death left Priscilla Presley heartbroken

Although Elvis and Priscilla Presley had their ups and downs, their love for each other was apparent. Priscilla spoke about her feelings for her late ex-husband in an interview for The Sydney Morning Herald. "I love him. I still love him. I've never not loved him. Ever," she admitted. "People will say, 'Well if you didn't stop loving him why did you divorce him?' It wasn't really him, it was the lifestyle. The lifestyle was very difficult. And I think people just don't get it ... All right? Thank you."

Elvis' death impacted Priscilla greatly. She recalled the heartbreaking moment when she learned of the "Jailhouse Rock" singer's passing during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. The actor traveled to Elvis' location, where he was found unresponsive in his home. "They sent a jet to come, and going into that house and hearing all the people — especially his father, who I will, to this day, still remember him crying in such grief, howling — that it still resonates the loss and the impact," Priscilla said of the tragedy. 

It appears that the former "Dallas" star is still grieving Elvis' passing decades later. She opened up about the tragedy during the 40th anniversary of the star's death. "A devastating time for myself and of course, the world, to hear the news, and it's still unbelievable because he's so much a part of our lives — my life and my daughter's life and everyone around him," Priscilla told ET.

Priscilla Presley owed money following Elvis Presley's death

Elvis Presley's death left Priscilla Presley in a stress-inducing financial situation. You may think Priscilla inherited the musician's wealth, but it turns out she took on Elvis' multi-million dollar debt following his passing. Per the Los Angeles Times, the federal government added an inheritance tax of $10 million onto Elvis' estate. Elvis departed with $5 million in his account, but this money had to be split between the "Hound Dog" singer's original executor, father Vernon Presley, and his wife Priscilla (according to unconfirmed reports via Express). Unfortunately, music royalties didn't help Priscilla out much either, because they primarily went to the RCA record label.

As a result, Priscilla had to figure out how to get herself out of debt. This influenced the business-savvy mom to turn Elvis Presley's estate, Graceland, into a money-making tourist attraction, all while preserving the star's legacy. She went on to co-found Elvis Presley Enterprises. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Priscilla is worth $50 million as of this writing, so it seems that she managed to overcome financial distress even in the midst of grief.

Priscilla Presley raised Lisa Marie Presley as a grieving single parent

Priscilla Presley was left to raise daughter Lisa Marie Presley alone after Elvis' unexpected death. Of course, Elvis' death made things more difficult for the grieving parent, but things weren't exactly perfect when he was still around. In an interview with The Guardian, Priscilla revealed that the superstar wasn't the most involved father. "I could not domesticate Elvis, and I accepted that," she admitted. It seems that as a result, the mom stepped up to compensate for Elvis' occasional absence. "I thought, 'My God, this is a product of Elvis and me and I'm going to be there for her,'" Priscilla continued.

After Elvis' death, Priscilla and Lisa Marie had moments of conflict. When Lisa Marie decided to marry Michael Jackson, Priscilla made it clear that she didn't approve of the relationship. The concerned mom did not want her daughter to repeat her mistakes, and she didn't take a gentle approach in letting Lisa Marie know how she felt. "As her mom, though, I was concerned as I could see it could be a disaster," Priscilla told The Guardian. "At that point, the right thing to do would have been to bite my tongue, but I didn't bite my tongue."

Priscilla's involvement with the Church of Scientology may have also caused tension in her relationship with Lisa Marie. Page Six reported that she may have bequeathed a portion of Elvis' estate to the controversial church. Lisa Marie parted ways with Scientology in 2014, despite her mother's supposed devotion to the religion.