Inside Elvis Presley's Relationship History

The following article includes mentions of substance use and allegations of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse.

Elvis Presley remains an iconic emblem of a bygone era, one in which he was pursued relentlessly by devotees. Yes, Elvis had stans in the pre-social media age. Of course, he still has hordes of admirers now, flocking to Graceland while donning the famous white suit in tribute to the hitmaker. In his heyday, he was the "it boy," the ultimate symbol of male desirability. After all, this was the man who was censored for gyrating in a manner that would make even the most seasoned twerkers of the TikTok generation blush (he wasn't called Elvis the Pelvis for nothing). With the "Elvis" biopic imminent, as of this writing in 2022, dashing actor Austin Butler certainly has the looks to embody that body.

Although Elvis is famed for his much-publicized marriage to Priscilla Presley, The King had many Queens during his brief lifetime, and, if unsavory tales are to be believed, he allegedly engaged in some problematic dalliances, too. It seems these gals just couldn't help falling in love with Elvis, even if far too many of them ended up at the Heartbreak Hotel. What's more, a re-examination of many of his relationships has led to claims that Elvis was been predatory and borderline abusive.

He may have been the most handsome heartthrob of the '50s, but all was not as it seemed for this famed hound dog. As a number of his former paramours have dished, Elvis wasn't necessarily rocking their worlds in a manner expected from The King of Rock 'n Roll. Prepare to be shook (up) with the lowdown on Elvis Presley's relationship history.

Elvis Presley's first girlfriend was Dixie Locke

In 1954, Elvis Presley started dating Dixie Locke, who is believed to be his first ever girlfriend. Per 2017's "Blue Suede Shoes: The Culture of Elvis," an extract of which was published by Country Living, Locke was 15 when she met Presley, who was 19. After school, Locke enjoyed going to the skating rink, and it was there where she first met Presley. As two Southerners from devoutly religious households, the pair ended up getting on swimmingly, but Locke had to keep her relationship with the older boy a secret from her conservative parents. 

"He was just a nice, handsome guy," she wrote. "There was a magic kiss that night when we got home. ... I had to sneak into the house because my parents were sleeping." The relationship continued on and off for a few years, but Presley's looming fame ended up tearing the young lovers apart, though Locke claimed that they did consider marriage prior to his music career breakthrough. 

Locke has also said Presley was nothing but a Southern gent to her. In the 2021 documentary "Elvis: The Man Who Shook Up the World" (via Express), she described the young Presley as being a far cry from his brazen stage persona, a shy boy who struggled to make friends. It was the frequent attention of women, however, that brought him out of his shell. "All the girls were just goo goo over him, so the girls went up to him and spoke to him," she said. "He kinda loosened up a little after that."

It was June Juanico who first stole The King's heart

Although Dixie Locke was Elvis Presley's first girlfriend, his first true love is believed to be June Juanico. In 1955, a year after the singer's on-and-off relationship with Locke began fizzling out, he ended up meeting another charming young lady. Per Elvis Australia, Juanico first met Presley when he performed a show in Mississippi. Juanico was contacted by a pal, who urged her to see him play. "She said, 'You've got to see this man. ... He's the most beautiful creature you've ever seen in your lifetime,'" she recalled. Initially cynical of her friend's claims and dating her own "handsome boyfriend at the time," Juanico ultimately relented and went to the show out of curiosity. But the minute she saw Presley in the flesh, Juanico fell hard and fast. The two met after the concert and began dating.

But their romance was tumultuous at times. Speaking to a newspaper in 1956 (via Express), Juanico lamented Presley's alleged propensity towards callousness in their relationship, as he subjected her to some old-school ghosting. "I knew then that this was the real thing. Well, you know how love is," she divulged. "Eight months went by and I never heard from him. No letters or anything. Then I went to Memphis and it started all over — again."

According to the 2020 book "Last Train to Memphis," Presley couldn't commit to being with Juanico, but reportedly promised that she could be his "steady" in three years. (Charming.) Unwilling to wait around for the budding superstar, Juanico parted ways with him.

Natalie Wood felt let down by Elvis Presley

Natalie Wood first met Elvis Presley in 1956, when she was hot off the success of "Rebel Without a Cause." Per Closer Weekly, Natalie had the hots for Elvis, arguably a rebel without a cause in his own right, and asked co-star Dennis Hopper to hook them up. At the time, Natalie was 18, while Elvis was 21. 

He invited her over to his parents' house, but his mom, Gladys Presley, reportedly despised the Hollywood starlet. According to insiders, Gladys apparently didn't like the fact that Natalie wore a skimpy negligee when she stayed over. And it seems the animosity was mutual, as Natalie found Elvis' relationship with his mom borderline creepy, with Gladys reportedly telling her grown son to come and sit on her lap. (Big yikes.) Natalie quickly made an excuse to leave the house and called off the romance. In retaliation, The King allegedly gave her the rather cruel nickname of "Mad Nat."

In the 2011 book "Natalie: A Memoir About Natalie Wood by Her Sister," Lana Wood corroborated claims that Elvis' mom ruined the youthful romance through her jealousy and allegedly bizarre obsession with her son. "Gladys has wrecked everything," Lana recalled her sister saying. "I don't have a chance. Get me out of this, and fast." But perhaps that was for the best, considering Natalie was feeling thoroughly dissatisfied with their love life, an alleged theme that would plague Presley throughout his relationship history. "God, it was awful. He can sing, but he can't do much else," Natalie later told her sis. Ouch.

Barbara Gray is the woman behind that mystery kiss

In 1956, Elvis Presley was snapped locking lips with a beautiful blonde — and there was a lotta tongue involved. It now transpires that Barabara Gray was the mystery woman behind Al Wertheimer's famous photograph known as "The Kiss," per Today. For many years, however, Gray's identity remained a mystery: She was merely known as the blonde to the superstar singer.

As Vanity Fair reports, the photograph remains one of Presley's most iconic and has been likened to the famous "V-J Day in Times Square" snap. Gray met the singer in 1956 after her pals goaded her into getting in touch with him. "Bobbi, you ought to call him," her friend told her. "You could get a date with him. If anybody could, you could." They went on a casual outing, and Gray was smitten.

Speaking with WTVR in 2016, she described the first time she set eyes on her beau. "Elvis turned around and I almost fainted. He was absolutely gorgeous," Gray recalled. "I just melted." Presley swooped in to make out, but she told him to stop. He was allegedly unrelenting and, in the space of a few seconds, "The Kiss" was born. Incidentally, the iconic photograph that it's been compared to, "V-J Day in Times Square," is arguably another example of a non-consensual kiss that's been historically misinterpreted. Presley wanted to continue seeing Gray, but she had a boyfriend at the time and called things off. "I never saw him again," she revealed.

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The King was reportedly anything but to Priscilla Presley

Elvis Presley's first and only marriage was to Priscilla Presley (née Beaulieu). When the two met at a party in 1959, Priscilla was a mere 14 years old (Elvis was a decade older), per The Guardian. Despite the eye-watering age gap, Elvis supposedly didn't consummate his relationship with his underage girlfriend until their 1967 wedding day. Priscilla later told ABC News that this was because "he wanted a virgin."

Their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, was born in 1968, and it was at this point that the couple's relationship began to disintegrate. Priscilla told Terry Wogan that Elvis stopped being sexually attracted to her once she gave birth, as he was turned off by the notion of motherhood. In a 2021 interview with People, she divulged that Elvis' magnetism and appeal to other women left her feeling incredibly insecure thereafter. "Women gravitated to him, so I would be nervous when he had to go places alone. ... I always had an eye on him because everyone in the world was after him," she explained.

Contrary to Elvis' affable public persona, his ex-wife has also accused him of being emotionally abusive, which led to her embarking on an affair with a hunky karate instructor. Per the Daily Mail, Elvis allegedly once considered hiring a hitman to take out his wife's lover. As Priscilla claimed to ABC News, Elvis had total control over her life and dictated every aspect of her identity. "I was definitely under a spell of what I thought was love," she admitted. The pair called it quits in 1973.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Three's company for Anita Wood

Actor Anita Wood dated Elvis Presley casually from 1957 to 1962. In 2005, she discussed her relationship with the superstar singer with Larry King, explaining that their odd first date entailed a drive to a hamburger joint, where the young lovers were accompanied by Elvis' entourage. On that first night, he attempted to seduce Wood, which seems to be a common tactic of The King throughout his relationship history. However, she said Elvis was a "gentleman" when she declined. "He was my first love. I met him when I was 19 years old, and I came from a very conservative family and I'd never gone steady or anything," she said. "So of course when I met Elvis, I did fall in love with him."

Per Express, Elvis eventually left Wood for future wife Priscilla Presley. But, wanting to continue seeing both women, he reportedly lied to them. "He met Priscilla, who was a beautiful, beautiful," Wood told King. "And was a pretty young girl at 14. But when he came back, we still continued to date. ... Elvis could make you believe anything in the world, so he had me believing that she was just a friend." 

As detailed in the 2014 book "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life" (via the Daily Mail), when Wood discovered that she was being replaced by Priscilla, she ended the relationship. "That was probably the most difficult decision that I've ever made in my life," Wood later reflected in an interview, per Express. "... And when I left, I knew there would be no going back."

He allegedly cheated on his wife with numerous young women

To paraphrase Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," Elvis Presley was a hero to most, but his alleged treatment of women (and underage girls) was disturbing. With the rise of the #MeToo Movement, there has been a re-examination of Presley's relationships, particularly those of the barely legal kind. Subsequently, Vice argued that Presley's behavior was predatory, "exploiting the admiration of underage girls."

Supposedly unable to make love to his wife following their daughter's birth, Presley allegedly chased numerous teen girls and virginal women. According to "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life" (via the Daily Mail), he reportedly had a bevy of 14-year-old girls with whom he was cavorting, and 19-year-old Elisabeth Stefaniak, who worked as the musician's personal secretary, hopped into the conjugal bed when he ceased intimacy with his wife. Per an interview with Elvis Information Net, she eventually left Presley for the man who would become her husband of almost 60 years.

Presley, who was supposedly "obsessed with virginity," pursued two 25-year-old virgins, one of whom was Joyce Bova, circa 1970. Bova later penned a book about the affair, "Don't Ask Forever: My Love Affair with Elvis." Speaking with Elvis Information Net, she acknowledged Presley's alleged fiery temper, which led to her walking out on him. "It was a spontaneous reaction that said I wanted to be treated like a lady and with respect. ... In retrospect I don't know how well I coped, and now I understand more," she reflected. "I'm older and you know what they say about 20-20 hindsight."

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Elvis Presley had a fling with co-star Anne Helm

Actor Anne Helm starred alongside Elvis Presley in the 1962 film "Follow That Dream." The chemistry between the pair sizzled and they began a tryst. Per Express, he was engaged to teen Priscilla Beaulieu at the time (Helm was just 19 herself, whereas Presley was 26). The outlet notes that Presley waxed lyrical about his co-star during press junkets, describing how the pair would head back to his motel room to play cards or boardgames and eat dinner.

Helm has suggested that Presley took a liking to her because she was one of the guys, boozing and staying out late after filming. As she recalled to Elvis Australia in 2010, Helm continued seeing him after filming wrapped, but the singer then had an abundance of female paramours. What's more, there was the matter of his fiancée. "Everyone knew about Priscilla, although he didn't talk a lot about Priscilla to me. ... I really fell for Elvis — I mean, who wouldn't?" she said. "But the celebrity he was, it was difficult — he was loved by so many people."

According to the 2015 book "Drive-in Dream Girls," Presley first wooed Helm by bringing her a bouquet of flowers. Unbeknownst to Helm, this was apparently something The King did for all his female co-stars. Indeed, she wasn't the only one on set lusting after Presley — Joanne Moore also reportedly set her sights on him. Things ended somewhat acrimoniously for the lovers; after Presley made an offensive remark about Helm, she retaliated by trapping his fingers in a piano top.

Ann-Margret was reportedly The King's greatest love

One of Elvis Presley's most high-profile relationships was with flame-haired actor Ann-Margret. When filming "Viva Las Vegas" in 1963, the pair embarked on an affair. Per The New York Times, the on-and-off liaison lasted for 14 years, only ending with Elvis' 1977 death. As with his other female co-stars, Elvis brought Ann-Margret a bouquet of flowers. "We both felt a current, an electricity that went straight through us," she divulged. Reportedly, Priscilla Presley was incensed by the affair and lashed out at her man. Meanwhile, his lover married Roger Smith in 1967, all the while continuing with the steamy fling.

In her 2021 autobiography "My Story" (via Express), Ann-Margret revealed that Elvis confessed his love for her after marrying Priscilla. Their longtime entanglement generated much tabloid gossip. As detailed in the book "Elvis Presley: The Man. The Life. The Legend," Ann-Margret confessed to the affair during the London premiere of "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1963, creating quite the media storm. Subsequently, Elvis was forced to publicly call the relationship off to avoid further scrutiny. But this was something he reportedly bitterly regretted, believing that he and Margret were soulmates. His friend, Patti Parry, even suggested that Ann-Margret was his one true love.

Although Ann-Margret would remain married to Smith for 50 years until his 2017 death, she could never quite shake off the shadow of her lover. In an interview with CNN, she admitted that discussing Elvis' death was too painful for her: "He's not really gone. ... He's also in our hearts, and you always hear in your mind."

Did he feud with Steve McQueen over Barbara Leigh?

After going to an Elvis Presley show in 1970, model Barbara Leigh felt herself swooning over the enigmatic musician, per Elvis Information Net. She attended the concert with her then-boyfriend, MGM exec Jim Aubrey, but ended up getting invited back to the singer's dressing room. From the moment she locked eyes with Elvis, Leigh knew they were going to be lovers. "When Elvis wanted something he usually got it. As we spent time together our relationship grew," Leigh stated, adding that while the twosome tried to spend as much time together as possible, he was, of course, married to Priscilla Presley and had hordes of other lady loves in his life. "Elvis was the King, and a King has to have his harem, right?" she suggested.

There was another issue with the pair's dalliance: Leigh was having a second affair with her "Junior Bonner" co-star, Steve McQueen. "I'm sure every girl that he met practically wanted to go to bed with him. Same thing with Elvis," she told McQueen Online. Thus began a reported feud between The King and McQueen. Per Express, as things heated up between Leigh and McQueen, the Hollywood bad boy was allegedly getting heated in an entirely different way with Elvis. When Elvis would call Leigh, McQueen supposedly retorted, "Was that the guitar hick?" Meanwhile, The King would apparently refer to McQueen as "that motorcycle hick."

As Leigh recounted to Elvis Information Net, her affair with Elvis was over by 1972, largely because he had set his sights on another young woman: Linda Thompson.

Linda Thompson and Elvis Presley's fraught romance

Songwriter Linda Thompson has candidly discussed her dalliance with Elvis the Pelvis in her 2016 memoir "A Little Thing Called Life." Her first encounter with Presley was one she'd never forget. "He burst through the side door dressed as Dracula — flared pants, black cape with red lining and sunglasses on," she wrote, per Commercial Appeal. "It was July 6, 1972, and it was sweltering hot in Memphis. ... I was kind of taken aback by how he was dressed." 

According to "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life" (via the Daily Mail), Thompson was a virgin when she met Presley, and he reportedly hoped to "train" her in the bedroom. She ended up living in Graceland, but the excesses of a celeb lifestyle soon became all too apparent. Unfortunately, theirs appeared to be a toxic relationship, whereby she often tried to prevent Presley from overdosing. In addition to these drug issues, Thompson reportedly struggled with having to share her beau with the myriad other women in his life.

Thompson went on to marry Caitlin Jenner, with whom she welcomed reality TV star sons Brody and Brandon Jenner. In her memoir (via Commercial Appeal), Thompson recalled herself and Presley watching TV as Caitlyn competed at the Olympics in 1976. After Presley complimented the Olympian's good looks, Thompson remarked that she would marry her someday. "Over my dead body!" Presley replied. Just a year later, he would be dead. Reflecting on his death with Reel Talker in 2020, Thompson only had kind words for her ex: "He was an incredible human being, very generous — generous to a fault."

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).

Elvis Presley didn't rock Cybill Shepherd's world

1972 was apparently a busy year for Elvis Presley. He started a fling with up-and-coming star Cybill Shepherd, who had recently given a breakout performance in "The Last Picture Show," directed by her boyfriend, the late Peter Bogdanovich. Per the Daily Record, Presley was struck by the beauty of Shepherd, then aged 22, after watching the aforementioned flick. Subsequently, he invited her to Graceland, and they soon found themselves in the bedroom, which the actor later described as "all reds and black with a fake leopard cover on a king-size bed."

Shepherd took a liking to Presley because he was unlike any of the men she had met before. "It was 1972, and all the guys wore cheap cologne, apart from him. He smelled soapy, and sweet, like sugar and sweat," she told The Guardian in 2008. "I felt a lot for him. I knew about his drug addiction. I knew his tragic side." Despite finding The King incredibly alluring, Shepherd has been pretty blunt when discussing Presley's sexual prowess, or alleged lack thereof. Speaking with Sway in 2012, she divulged that Presley, in the words of "Seinfeld's" Elaine, didn't do everything.

After just a couple of months, they called it quits. As reported by the Daily Record, this was because Presley insisted his young lover break up with Bogdanovich, something she refused to do. Shepherd also grew tired of his so-called "brat-boy humor" and reliance on drugs. "I don't know whether he was heartbroken or not when I left, and that bothers me," she reflected.

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).

The King replaced Sheila Ryan with Mindi Miller

According to the book "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life," Elvis Presley began a torrid tryst with Sheila Ryan following his divorce from Priscilla Presley in 1973. As Ryan recounts in the documentary "The Final Chapter," Elvis reportedly wanted to marry her, but she had a sinking feeling that he was going to die soon due to his reliance on drugs and alcohol. Accordingly, she left him for actor James Caan, and Elvis moved onto Mindi Miller, who was one of his last lady loves.

He met Miller, a model, dancer, and actor, in 1975. "I was in absolute shock because you don't see Elvis Presley every day driving down your street let alone knowing that he's coming to pick you up for your date," she told Elvis Information Net of their first date. When she met The King, Miller was concerned by his self-styled Memphis Mafia being present, interrogating her at length before their date. "After about an hour ... a few of the guys walked out of the room ... to get Elvis and probably said to him, 'She's OK you can meet her,'" she revealed.

As with Ryan, Elvis reportedly wanted a serious relationship with Miller, but she felt that their romance was stifling and prevented her from living her own life and pursuing her dreams. The last time she spoke to the singer was a few months before his death, with Miller recalling, "I told him that I learned a lot from him and that I would always hold him dear in my heart. We never spoke after that."

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).

Elvis Presley's final love was fiancée Ginger Alden

A year before his death, Elvis Presley began dating Ginger Alden, who was two decades his junior. Per "Elvis Presley: A Southern Life," Alden was a 20-year-old beauty queen when she met The King in 1976. After setting eyes on Alden, he found himself falling in love. Subsequently, Presley used his Southern charm to get into her good books, wooing both Alden and her parents, whom he flew to Las Vegas. "Don't let this one get away!" her father enthused after being treated to glitzy hospitality at the Hilton.

Soon enough, Presley would propose. "On the day he proposed, he said: 'Ginger, I've been searching for love so long, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would find it in my own backyard. I've been 60% happy and 40% happy, but never 100%,'" she recalled, per Express. Alden added that Presley declared he had loved many women, but she was the first person he was actually in love with.

Appearing on Inside Edition in 2014, she refuted many of the tabloid rumors surrounding their relationship, including claims that their romance was tumultuous and blighted by frequent arguments. Soon into the engagement, Presley died aged just 42: The pair sadly never got their fairytale wedding. Alden visited him nearly every day in the lead-up to his demise, disputing gossip that he was miserable in his dying days. "We laughed, we watched television, played the organ in his room," she said of his last moments, declaring that she still misses him to this day.