Priscilla Presley. Elvis meets Priscilla Beaulieu and the Birth of Lisa Marie Presley
Priscilla Presley met Elvis Presley in 1959, when she was 14. At that time, Elvis was serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. They began a romance, and Priscilla eventually followed Elvis to the United States.
Eight years after they met, Priscilla and Elvis were on married on May 1, 1967 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born the following year, in 1968. Although their marriage didn't last (they divorced in 1973), Elvis and Priscilla remained friends, and raised Lisa Marie together, until his death in 1977.
Priscilla Presley resley became the executor of Elvis' estate, Graceland, in 1979, and proved herself to be a successful businesswoman, turning Elvis Presley Enterprises, of which she is chairwoman and president, into a profitable business. Priscilla starred in three Naked Gun movies with Leslie Nielsen, and played the character Jenna Wade on the television series Dallas. Presley founded Elvis Presley Enterprises, and helped to turn Graceland into a multimillion-dollar tourist attraction.
Priscilla Presley was born Priscilla Ann Wagner on May 24, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, James Wagner, was a US Navy pilot who was killed in an plane crash when Pricilla was only a few months old. Her mother, Ann, remarried Paul Beaulieu, an Air Force officer, in 1948. Her family moved several times and was stationed in Germany when she was a teenager. It was there, she met Elvis Presley.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley
In Germany, 14-year old Priscilla would hang out at the Eagles Club, a place for eating and entertainment. According to Priscilla, she'd often just listen to the juke box and write letters to her friends. One day, a handsome man looking somewhere in his mid twenties approached Priscilla. His name was Currie Grant. He asked Priscilla, 'How'd you like to meet Elvis Presley? My wife and I are good friends of his'. Of course Priscilla agreed, and the night she was to meet Elvis, she wore a white and navy sailor dress. Elvis lived off base in Bad Nauheim. On the evening of Sunday, September 13, 1959, Currie, his wife, and Priscilla drove for forty minutes to get to Elvis' house. Out of nervousness, Priscilla didn't speak much. When she finally arrived, entered the house, and met Elvis, he'd taken a liking to her right away. He even seemed to be trying to impress Priscilla with his songs he'd play her.
After the first night of meeting Elvis, Priscilla couldn't concentrate on school, but she told nobody that she'd met Elvis, because as she thought, 'Who'd believe that just last night I was at Elvis' house?'
Much has been made of the fact that Priscilla was only 14 when the pair was introduced, but the young girl was mature for her age, and Elvis was mindful of the implications of the situation.
Elvis wanted to see Priscilla again, and so, she began visiting him regularly.
For six months this went on, almost as if they were a couple. Priscilla thought of nothing but Elvis, she cared for him, listened to him, and accompanied him. They were almost inseparable.
That is, until that sorrowful day when Elvis had to return to the United States.
Priscilla was photographed by the press at the airport when Elvis left for America, and some of those photos ended up in Life magazine. Beyond this, there was surprisingly little publicity about their relationship.
After Elvis was discharged from the Army, his only contact with Priscilla Beaulieu was over the phone and by mail. Two months shy of her 15th birthday, the blue-eyed brunette with the turned-up nose remained in Germany when Elvis departed for the United States. Within days there were reports that he was dating Nancy Sinatra. It was three weeks before Priscilla next heard his voice, reassuring her that she was the only girl for him, and over the next two years she grew accustomed to the rumors and his denials, as well as the pain and frustration that came with loving the world's biggest heartthrob from a distance of several thousand miles.
In a press conference on the day he arrived back at Graceland, Elvis played down his relationship with 'the girl he left behind'. But in truth, though he was dating Anita Wood and several actresses, he seemed to have reserved a special place in his heart for 'Cilla'. For the time being, Elvis went along with Colonel Parker's belief that an all-consuming relationship would hurt his image and be bad for his career. Priscilla patiently waited for their reunion.
During their conversations, Elvis would discuss his career, even his relationship with Anita Wood, causing Priscilla to wonder where she fit in. However, he also insisted that he wanted her to visit Graceland. Cilla just had to hang on. And she did for nearly two years, even amid newspaper and magazine articles linking Elvis to beauties such as Juliet Prowse and Tuesday Weld.
Anita Wood: ... early 1962, I was coming down the backstairs into the kitchen, I heard Elvis say, 'I'm having the hardest time making up my mind between the two' ... I knew exactly what he was talking about. And I had a lot of pride ... so I just marched my little self right down the stairs ... And Elvis took me into the dining room and his dad was sitting at the table. And we sat down at the table and I said, 'I'm gonna make that decision for you, I heard what you said and I'm leaving'. And I remember that I started crying, it was a very difficult decision to make. I must say that was probably the most difficult decision that I've ever made in my life. I have to say that. After having dated someone like Elvis for five years, and as close as we were for this to end. And when I left, I knew there would be no going back ... I said, 'I'm leaving', and I called Andy, my brother, to come pick me up and we sat there and talked a little bit longer, but nobody could eat.
Then, one day in March 1962, after several months without contact, Elvis called Priscilla out of the blue and invited her to join him in Los Angeles. Simultaneously stunned and overjoyed, she pointed out that, although her mother might be receptive to this idea, it would be nearly impossible to persuade her father, Captain Paul Beaulieu. It was a challenge Elvis seemed happy to accept.
While Priscilla prevailed upon her mother, Elvis spoke with the Captain several times and finally won him over by agreeing to a list of rules: the two-week-long vacation wouldn't take place until Priscilla was out of school for the summer; Elvis would send her a first-class round-trip ticket; the Beaulieus would be provided with a comprehensive itinerary of her daily activities in Los Angeles; she would be chaperoned everywhere; she'd write to her parents every day; and at night she'd stay with his friends, George and Shirley Barris.
Priscilla arrived in Los Angeles in June, and following a visit to Elvis' house on Bellagio Road, she did stay at the Barris home -- for one night. The next afternoon, Elvis informed her that he had planned a trip to Las Vegas, and shortly after midnight she was sitting next to him in his luxury motor home on the way to Nevada.
She slyly circumvented the problem of her parents receiving letters each day by quickly pre-writing a week's worth and asking Elvis' butler to mail them from Los Angeles. Their next stop was the Sahara Hotel and Casino, where the King and his princess shared a suite.
During twelve blissful, fun-filled days and nights in Las Vegas, Elvis took Priscilla shopping, chose the clothes she should wear, and instructed her on how to style her hair and apply heavier makeup. Elvis liked his women to wear plenty of eyeliner and mascara, and Priscilla readily accepted his choices. Courtesy of a hairdresser at the hotel, her tresses were teased and twisted into a beehive style, her eyes were heavily made up, and the result was the apparent transformation of an innocent teen into a sophisticated siren.
After her return to Germany, Priscilla had something to look forward to during the next six months: Christmas at Graceland. Elvis had invited her, and once again she had to persuade her parents. However, that request was nothing compared to what the Beaulieus were confronted with once the Christmas trip was over and their darling daughter returned home: Elvis wanted her to finish school in Memphis.
Elvis called Captain Beaulieu and used all his powers of persuasion.
If Cilla moved to Memphis, he promised, she wouldn't live with him at Graceland but with Vernon and his wife in their house nearby. She would be enrolled in the very best Catholic school, where he'd ensure that she would graduate. And she would be cared for and chaperoned wherever she went.
Not only did Elvis swear that he loved, needed, and respected Priscilla, but he also insisted that he couldn't live without her. The Beaulieus were left with two painful alternatives: let Priscilla go and risk her being devastated if things didn't work out, or veto the proposed plan and be responsible for destroying her happiness.
In the end, Elvis got his way, and Priscilla moved to Memphis.
Priscilla Moves to America 1962
In October 1962, while he was in Hollywood filming Fun in Acapulco, Elvis played host to Priscilla and her dad, and won over the senior Beaulieu with his charm and hospitality. After a few days, father and daughter flew to Memphis, where Captain Beaulieu and Vernon Presley enrolled Priscilla in the all-girl Immaculate Conception Cathedral High School and moved her into the home that Vernon shared with his second wife, Dee.
Once her father had returned to Germany, however, Priscilla seemed uncomfortable living with her future in-laws, and soon she was spending more and more time with Elvis' grandmother at Graceland. Before long, for all intents and purposes she'd basically relocated there. Vernon chauffeured Priscilla to and from school until she got her license and he agreed to let her drive Elvis' Lincoln Mark V. He also provided her with pocket money to spend on clothes, gas, and going to the movies, bowling alley, and Leonard's Drive-In with cousin Patsy (whose mother was Gladys's sister Clettes, and father was Vernon's brother Vester).
Still, despite the company of Grandma Dodger, the maids, and the secretaries, Priscilla often seemed extremely lonely waiting for Elvis to return from filming. One such movie was 'Viva Las Vegas'.
Priscilla: Some stars want to meet other stars. Some stars have to hang out with other stars. Not Elvis. I can't remember him once telling the Colonel to arrange a meeting with anyone famous. He saw Hollywood as the home of phonies. He certainly felt out of place, which is why the minute the movie wrapped he was gone.
One memorable evening, the Colonel arranged for Elvis to meet four famous people. But I believe it was the Beatles who were eager to meet Elvis, not the other way around. In fact, when John, Paul, Ringo and George walked in, Elvis was relaxing on the couch, looking at TV without the sound. He barely bothered to get up. Naturally he was curious about the Beatles. He respected them. Mostly he respected the way they had achieved their artistic freedom. He saw how they did whatever they liked to do. He appreciated their songs and especially their film 'A Hard Day's Night' where their creativity and sense of fun came through so powerfully. 'Help!' was out or just about to be released. He also admired Bob Dylan and appreciated Dylan's serious songwriting. Read more.
Elvis' love interest in the movie was non other than the 'Female Elvis', Ann-Margret... They were instantly attacted to esach other, and a relationship developed. This crushed Priscilla. She'd try and call Elvis to visit, but each time he'd delay it. Even after the film, reports were still everywhere. Cilla couldn't take it anymore, but Elvis would threaten to have her go back to live with her parents if she protested, which is what happened one day when she threw a vase at the wall. Elvis began packing her bags and telling Vernon (Elvis' father) to set up the next plane flight back to her folks. Then, Elvis would apologize saying, 'See..you needed this'.
Eventually, Elvis and Cilla just laughed it off. Elvis had decided Priscilla was the girl he wanted.
One evening shortly before Christmas 1966, Elvis went down on one knee in the bedroom at Graceland and proposed to Cilla. Then he slipped a ring on her finger. Purchased from jeweler Harry Levitch, the ring featured a 31/2-carat diamond encircled by a row of smaller, detachable diamonds.
Just over seven years after thier first meeting Elvis and Priscilla were married.
The wedding itself took place on Monday, May 1, 1967
Elvis filmed 'Clambake' in Los Angeles while Colonel Parker made the wedding arrangements. The ceremony took place at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, in the small second-floor suite of the Colonel's friend, owner Milton Prell. The nuptials were presided over by Nevada Supreme Court Justice David Zenoff and took less than ten minutes. In true Colonel Parker style, a press conference was held immediately afterward, followed by a breakfast reception for 100 guests, including many members of the press.
The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Palm Springs, and after a couple of days they returned to Memphis where, on May 29, they climbed back into their wedding attire and threw a reception at Graceland for all of their relatives, friends, and employees, as well as a few lucky fans. The only absentee was bodyguard Red West, who refused to attend because he hadn't been invited to the actual wedding ceremony.
Elvis was a doting father to Lisa Marie. Until the end of his life Elvis adored Lisa Marie, spoiling her and showering her with jewels and gifts when she visited him, and rarely, if ever, disciplining her.
As in many other aspects of his life, Elvis' love for his daughter ran to excess.
Once, he flew her aboard his private jet so she could play in the snow. For her birthday, he rented the amusement park Libertyland for Lisa Marie and her friends. He bought her a golf cart and a pony, which he let her ride through the front door of Graceland. In her autobiography, Priscilla asserted that she and Elvis retained their mutual affinity and relished their joint role as parents. During one of their last phone conversations, Priscilla mused over the possibility that one day it might be their time once again'.Yeah,' Elvis joked, 'when I'm seventy and you're sixty. We'll both be so old, we'll look really silly, racing around in golf carts'.
In early 1972, Priscilla and Elvis separated.
Their divorce was finalized on October 9, 1973. They remained friends, and even held hands during their divorce proceedings.
After her divorce from Elvis, Priscilla began a boutique and ran it for five years before getting into modeling and acting. After signing with the William Morris Agency, Priscilla made her television debut in 1980 as a co-host of the ABC series Those Amazing Animals with the legendary Burgess Meredith.
Priscilla went on to portray the lead role of Jenna Wade on the television soap opera Dallas from 1983 to 1988 and starred as Jane Spencer (Jane Drebin in the third film), with Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun movie trilogy.
Protecting his legacy
Priscilla, sees that part of her mission in life is to protect Elvis' legacy. That led her to write her 1987 book Elvis and Me, which she viewed as a response to Albert Goldman's vicious tome 'Elvis'. She didn't want Lisa to read Goldman's crap 'and think that's what her father was'. Priscilla doesn't read all the Elvis books released, but she has a favorite: Peter Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis'. He really captured the whole mood, the whole time and the whole event of Elvis', she said'. I think he said it beautifully'.
After Elvis' death Priscilla took control of Elvis Presley Enterprises and built it to the organization it is today. Learning to deal with the business was a challenge. There was no school for her; she observed others, including Elvis' longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker, and learned by trial and error.
'I learned a lot from the Colonel of what not to do'.'The challenge with the estate is to keep the quality in and keep his legacy so it's always respected'.
For more information on Elvis and Priscilla buy the Elvis By The Presleys DVD -- at over 4 hours this double DVD set will tell you everything you want to know and more plus includes lots of home movies of Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa Marie. A must for every fan! -- Also there is Priscilla's book -- Elvis & Me.
More about Priscilla Presley
My Life With and Without Elvis Presley | For the First Time ... Priscilla Tells All (August, 1973)
Elvis looked even better in person, Priscilla says
President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Visit Graceland
Married at 21, Priscilla Presley Recalls life with Elvis
Priscilla talks about life with Elvis
Priscilla and Lisa Marie talk with Oprah
Late nights in the pub with daughter Lisa Marie, her crazy life with Elvis : Priscilla Presley reveals all
Priscilla Presley talks about Elvis meeting The Beatles
Photos: Elvis Presley, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley & Lisa Marie Presley
Navarone Garibaldi (Priscilla's son)
Video Interviews with Priscilla Presley
Interview with Priscilla Presley (1978)
Priscilla Presley on Good Morning America (1979)
Interview with Priscilla Presley (1980)
Priscilla talks to Barbara Walters (1985)
Priscilla Presley on 'First Person' (1991)
Priscilla Presley gives Larry King a tour of Graceland
Priscilla Presley talks about Elvis meeting The Beatles
Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu Getting Married
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Presley Home Page
Lisa Marie's singing, writing pretty goo
Lisa Presley | The Rolling Stone Interview
Complete Lisa Marie Presley Playboy Interview
Interview with Lisa Presley | Enough Rope
Interview with Lisa Marie Presley
Father and Daughter Together Again
In The Ghetto | Lisa Marie & Elvis Presley
The Presley Women | Priscilla & Lisa Marie Presley's First Mother/Daughter Interview
Elvis Presleys Grandchildren
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.