Inside Elvis And Priscilla Presley's Relationship

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Popularly dubbed the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley was as mysterious as a star as they come. He charmed his way into the hearts of Americans and the rest of the world by bringing songs to life in a way only he could. Elvis' sexualized on-stage approach kept the masses wanting more. A 2007 article by Forbes estimates that Presley's estate continues to generate revenue of $40 million annually. Posthumously, Presley lives vividly in the minds of his fans, so much that the "Ultimate Elvis Experience" is a selling point for a hotel in Memphis where the singer grew up, per Forbes.

While the public experienced Elvis as an icon, a myth who was held in high regard and worthy of a Presidential Medal of Freedom (via Rolling Stone), those around him saw a more human side. No one's account of life with Elvis is as intense and passionate as that of Priscilla Presley, who shared 14 years with him. In an interview with Good Morning Britain, she said of his struggles, "Even when he was younger, Elvis was a thinker. He was a searcher. He was alone, in that, there was no one really when he was younger that could even compare to him ... It was always a little bit of sadness in them. In the whole family." From the moment they met, Elvis saw something in Priscilla that piqued his interest, leading to a whirlwind of a love story.

Priscilla and Elvis Presley met while he was serving in the military

In spite of the fact that he was a familiar face in the entertainment industry, Elvis Presley joined the United States Army in 1958. The following two years would be a hell of a ride, having the public side with him following a previous outrage about his music. Priscilla, on the other hand, was just getting started in high school when her military family had to move to Germany. Coincidentally, the thought had crossed her mind that she would meet Elvis. "When my father told us he was being sent to Weisbaden Air Base, I mentioned jokingly that Elvis was stationed nearby and maybe we would get a chance to meet him," Priscilla said in an interview with Ladies Home Journal.

Priscilla's first meeting with Elvis was casual. Over lunch, a guy asked if she wanted to meet Elvis Presley. She called his bluff, and was proven wrong. When she returned home, she knew they wouldn't see each other again. Per Biography, Priscilla Presley likened the early days of being courted by Elvis to a confessional. "He put a lot onto me as a 14-year-old kid. That was hard for me to really understand," she said. For six months, Priscilla had to find a balance between school and being Elvis' girlfriend, both of which were demanding for a young woman her age. Soon after, Elvis' time in the army came to an end.

Her parents were skeptical of his interest

The cloud looming over Priscilla and Elvis Presley's romance was the pair's big age gap. At the time of their meeting, Elvis was 24 years old, while she was ten years younger. "Why would somebody like him be interested in seeing a 14-year-old again? What was the reason?" Priscilla's parents queried during an interview with "Biography." When she'd first brought up the idea of meeting Elvis, Priscilla's mother, in particular, couldn't fathom the possibility. "I wouldn't let you walk across the street to see Elvis Presley," she'd insisted, per Ladies Home Journal.

Priscilla's demands on forging a relationship with the "Easy Come, Easy Go" actor weren't welcome, but her parents kept an open mind. They would only let the pair go forward if they were given a chance to vet him in person. Upon meeting, her mother's views on Elvis changed. "He was such a gentleman," she confessed. "That evening he was so respectful. And he was respectful to my husband ... I was impressed," Anna Lillian Iversen said of the Rock and Roll legend (via "Biography"). Elvis was a darling, not only to Priscilla, but to her family at large. "He came to the house and he was charming. He was wonderful and my family had a lot of faith in him," Priscilla disclosed in a sit-down with Barbara Walters.

They talked on phone for hours after Elvis' return to America

After Elvis' departure, the phone went silent for three weeks. According to Priscilla Presley's friend from high school, she'd diverted all of her energy toward her relationship with the "Always on My Mind" singer. "I believe she was totally focused on Elvis. She had a hard time focusing on anything else," said Judy Comstock Bell in an interview with "Biography." In a matter of time, the love birds were back in their nest. As the long-distance phone calls grew, so did the affection. They'd talk about missing one another, Priscilla revealed in her "Biography" interview. She'd be up so late, in fact, that she would be worn out in the mornings from being up all night.

In due course, Priscilla Presley joined the love of her life in Memphis over Christmas, marking the beginning of the many times they would spend the holiday together. "I was dumbfounded when he asked me to spend Christmas in Memphis — and then he asked if I could remain there," she told Ladies Home Journal. Just like the first time, her parents didn't buy the idea of their daughter staying in Memphis. They came around, however, and she completed high school in the city.

She was introduced to the superstar's fast life

Since Elvis was away for the better part of her four-year stay in Memphis, Priscilla stayed with his father, Vernon, Vernon's wife, Dee, and their sons. He'd make up for being absent through gifting. "It was difficult for Elvis to buy for me, and a lot times he would just tell me to get what I wanted, which I liked. He gave me all of the cars that I have had," she divulged, per Ladies Home Journal. Her car collection through the years included a Corvair, a Chevrolet, a Toronado, an Eldorado, and, the cherry on the cake, a Mercedes. To woo his woman further, Elvis would rent an entire theater to catch up with good old action movies.

His life was fast-paced — and it had a darker side to it. Elvis popped pills, and it was a matter of time before Priscilla got caught in the murk. "He was used to taking two and it didn't bother him. He gave [pills] to me, and I was knocked out for about two days," Priscilla told Barbara Walters. According to Joan Kardashian, another friend of Priscilla's, per "Biography," the Elvis Presley lifestyle involved countless parties and late nights, especially when in Las Vegas.

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Elvis proposed to Priscilla before Christmas in 1966

Of many memories Priscilla Presley has of Christmas, one reigns supreme. After being with the Rock and Roll favorite for seven years, he finally popped the question. "He got on his knee with a gift behind his back and told me to close my eyes. Of which I did and then he told me to open them and he presented me with a beautiful engagement ring," Priscilla revealed on NPR's "World Cafe." Asked what was going through her mind at the time, Priscilla's answer was simple. She badly wanted to put the ring on.

On May 1, 1967, the couple got hitched at a Las Vegas hotel. They chose a small audience of 14, per Ladies Home Journal. "As a wedding present, Elvis flew in my mom and dad from his new post at Fort Ord, California. I remember how overwhelmed they were, how happy, too. Of course, they thought it was time. We had been dating for years!" Priscilla told the publication. Their wedding, she maintained, wasn't simply out of the blue. She and Elvis had been going back and forth with the idea for a minute.

Priscilla Presley didn't find a career of her own

While Priscilla Presley was engulfed in Elvis' world, she barely had time to create her own. He brought the bacon home and sometimes could barely make it on time to celebrate an anniversary or two. "For Elvis to come home from a trip and leave again was routine. At first, I wanted to go along and it was difficult for me to understand why I couldn't," she disclosed, per Ladies Home Journal.

She sought other ways to keep herself engaged while Elvis Presley was away. Having studied ballet before, she enrolled in classes with an old acquaintance, Maylee Kaplan. She "danced and worked out every day and did a couple of recitals with them." Elvis had no problem with her pursuits, including a makeup class, as long as she was happy.

Of a rumor that she had thought of becoming an actress, Priscilla told Ladies Home Journal, "It's untrue that we argued about it or about my becoming an actress." She did get offers but wasn't keen on living a life without privacy. "I saw how Elvis had to be. I mean, so publicized. I could live my life and do what I wanted, but it was not possible for Elvis to do this. It was a shame."

Elvis had control over her looks, likes, and interests

In her book "Elvis and Me," Priscilla described herself as "Elvis' doll, his own living doll, to fashion as he pleased." Per Biography, Elvis heavily impacted Priscilla's image. The couple both wore their hair black. Priscilla spotted an upswept hairdo that was meant to complement Elvis' own. Oftentimes, they would be seen in clothes of the same color. Elvis had a say when it came to Priscilla's stance, insisting that she betters it. Her teeth were fitted with porcelain caps, just how he liked them. "She adapted to his plans and atmosphere and surroundings and lifestyle and liked it," said George Klein, Elvis' groomsman (via People).

Elvis' sense of control did not merely stop at Priscilla's image. "You lived his life. You saw the movies he wanted to see. You listened to the music he listened to. You go to places that he would go. So, you really kind of lost yourself," she revealed in a conversation with "Loose Women," adding that his fears became hers, and she found herself reiterating what he'd said in conversations with other people.

An independence bug finally caught up with Priscilla. "I want to grow. I want to do things." She told People in 1978. Find her freedom she did, and when she was in her late twenties, she signed her first cheque. Priscilla's transformation has been tremendous ever since.

Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968

A little over a decade since their first meeting, the couple's only child, Lisa Marie Presley, was born. Speaking to Ladies Home Journal in a tell-all interview post her divorce from the "All Shook Up" singer in 1973, Priscilla Presley said she and Elvis were over the moon when their daughter was born. On finding a name, they had already made a choice. "If the baby had been a boy, we were going to name him John Barron. I liked the name Barron. It has a very strong feeling to it. But when it was a girl, we decided on Lisa Marie–for no special reason, only because it is a very feminine name."

On CBS's "The Talk" Lisa Marie Presley went into detail on what it was like to grow up in Graceland. "I remember lots of conversations. I mean, you know, he and I spent a lot of time together. Upstairs upper part of Graceland is basically his room and my room, so we spent a lot of time together," she said. Elvis would set up a chair in her room and watch TV. He spent most of his time in his daughter's room.

When Christmas came around, there was a change of mood when Lisa stepped into the picture. "To have a child celebrating Christmas with you, you just wanna shower them with gifts and that's exactly what we did," Priscilla told NPR's "World Cafe."

Elvis allegedly had affairs during the span of their relationship

The relationship between Priscilla and Elvis Presley wasn't without its challenges, the biggest of which was infidelity. Word on the street was that Elvis took a strong liking to a number of actresses, amongst them Anita Wood. The timeline of Elvis' relationship with Wood is sketchy, as is his whole dating history, but at some point, he had to make a choice between the two women (via Express). In a leaked 1960 telephone conversation between Elvis and Wood, Wood asks, "Do you have a girlfriend out there? ... I mean, do you have a special one? I know you have several," to which he replies, "I don't have any."

When Priscilla's move to Memphis got off to a rocky start, Elvis met Natalie Wood, whose sister Lana told Closer Weekly was awestruck by the "Flaming Star" actor's way of life. The pair got together with the help of Natalie's "Rebel Without a Cause" co-star, Dennis Hopper. Then 18 years old, the finer details of Natalie's life with Elvis are similar in script to Priscilla's. He'd book an entire movie theatre for the two of them. "That's not what she was used to," said Lana, adding that Elvis gave her the nickname "Mad Nat" for how angry she got.

Ann Margret shared a special relationship with Elvis, one that she's kept tight-lipped about. "It was extremely special. It was very strong ... Our relationship was very strong and very serious and very real. We were together for one year, and he trusted me. And I do not want to betray his trust even in death," she said in a 1994 interview with Charlie Rose.

Priscilla Presley developed a love interest of her own

Affairs in the Elvis-Priscilla Presley household were not one-sided. In her book "Elvis and Me," Priscilla let it be known that, in a bid to get Elvis' approval, she took up karate. Priscilla would build a friendship with her trainer, Mike Stone, as reported by Express. Stone, who was also a bodyguard, was charismatic to a degree, sometimes outshining the icon he was assigned to protect. "Several years earlier, we had watched Stone at a tournament in Hawaii and we'd admired his fighting technique," Priscilla wrote of their first encounter. The relationship eventually became an affair.

According to Stone's interview with "Elvis: The Ultimate Fan Channel," he wasn't a homewrecker. "You cannot steal another person. I cannot steal anybody's wife. Or Priscilla, if you wanna turn it around, did not steal me from my family," he claimed.

 Unlike most people who've been affiliated with celebrities in one way or another, Stone wasn't focused on profiting from his relationship with Priscilla. As such, he declined an offer to write a tell-all book of his own. "Many years just after Elvis had passed away, I was approached by Random House, are you familiar with the publication? Random House contacted me, that they wanted me to do a book on my relationship with Priscilla."

13 years after they first met, they got divorced

Priscilla and Elvis Presley had been separated for a while before he filed for divorce. She'd since evacuated their shared Holmby Hills home. On the day of their divorce, Elvis and Priscilla left the courtroom hand in hand, signaling that they weren't particularly on bad terms.

A year later, Elvis would reveal the reason for their divorce during an on-stage performance (Via "J.R Elvis"). "We're the very best of friends and we always have been. Our divorce came about not because of the other man, or another woman. Because of the circumstances involving my career. I was traveling too much, I was gone too much and it was ... [just an agreement]."

On her part, Priscilla had accepted that Elvis was cut from a different cloth. She needed to explore the world beyond the confines of their relationship." 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," Priscilla said on "Loose Women."

He died of heart disease in 1977

In 1977, the King of Rock and Roll died at the age of 42. The cause of his death was heart disease. Graceland, a place that bore memories for both him, Priscilla Presley, and their daughter, became his final resting place. Speaking to Today back in 2012, Priscilla recounted her thoughts upon learning of Elvis' death: "I'll never forget that day. I walked outside and I just said, 'My God! Something is not right.' And, Lisa was in Memphis at the time and I first thought of her."

Following Elvis' death, his name became a cash cow for opportunists. Records, t-shirts, souvenirs, you name it. All over America, someone somewhere was cashing in cheques using Elvis' name. This did not sit well with Priscilla. " It hurts. I knew it would happen. I could see it coming. The day that he died, you know, was just the beginning," she said in an interview with Rona Barrett.

At the time of Elvis' passing, he had moved on and was engaged to Ginger Alden. Since then, Priscilla Presley has been in charge of Elvis' estate. She had to go head to head with Ginger, who sued the estate for $40,000, with claims that Elvis had promised to pay the amount in mortgage before he died, per Eyewitness News.

Priscilla Presley keeps Elvis' legacy alive

More than four decades after Elvis died, Priscilla Presley works hard at keeping his legacy alive. Graceland, the entertainer's home, is open to the public. "It's hard to believe that 40 years ago today we opened up the gates at Graceland for tours," Priscilla tweeted in June 2022. Architectural Digest reports that 600,000 visitors walk in and out of the gates of Graceland every year. A trip to Graceland equals going back in time. The home has been kept pristine, with its '50s to '70s interior design hardly tampered with.

Graceland is not void of Presley's posthumous achievements. When Today paid the home a visit in 2020, Priscilla revealed that they'd just installed a plaque of "If I Can Dream" which had gone triple platinum. His achievements, she mentioned, were due to the fact that Elvis had a way of connecting with his audience.

The road to turning Elvis' former residence into a multi-million business was not a walk in the park. At some point, Elvis' estate was running out of money, and Priscilla was advised to sell it. She vehemently denied the option and hit the ground running. "Those were fighting words to me, and I told him 'That will never happen.' And that's when I rolled up my sleeves," she said on "The Project."