Priscilla Presley discusses her relationship with Elvis in 1985
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Elvis Aaron Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu on May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas. It was the showbusiness wedding of the year and images were beamed around the world. The beaming couple posed for photographs and then jetted off to a glamorous honeymoon in Palm Springs. Priscilla was still only 21 and maintains she was a virgin on her wedding night. Exactly nine months later they had a daughter, Lisa Marie. It sounded like a fairy tale. But behind the scenes, nothing was what it seemed. The marriage ended one of Elvis’ closest friendships and then, ultimately, his relationship with Priscilla.
Elvis’s housekeeper and cook Alberta Holman found him in tears at home in the kitchen, the night before the wedding.
She had been with the family for years and had been very close to his mother, Gladys. The King nicknamed her Alberta VO5 after the famous hair product brand, Alberto VO5. After Gladys passed away, Alberta used to make Elvis his favourite meal of bacon, hashbrowns and black-eyed peas.
According to the biography Down at the End of Lonely Street: The Life and Death of Elvis Presley by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske, Alberta said she found him crying about the upcoming wedding in 1967.
She asked the star why he didn’t just cancel it if it was making him so unhappy and he apparently replied, “I don’t have a choice.”
There were rumours that Priscilla’s step-father, Paul Beaulieu, was angry that, after so many years living with his daughter, Elvis still hadn’t made an honest woman of her. Especially since their relationship had scandalously started when she was 14.
Beaulieu could have threatened to prosecute Elvis for taking a minor across state lines. He had been travelling with Priscilla to Los Angeles and Las Vegas when she was 15, which was contrary to the agreement made with her parents when they permitted her to leave Germany aged 16 to move to the US.
Elvis had assured them that their daughter would remain in Memphis, chaperoned by the star’s grandmother Minnie Mae, living in a separate house and attending school.
Instead, Priscilla even wrote fake postcards which were mailed from Memphis by staff while she was travelling out of state with Elvis. Meanwhile, she soon spent every night at Graceland.
However, other claims suggested Priscilla herself had pressured Elvis into marriage, threatening to go to the press with the details about their relationship, especially when she was 14 and 15.
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Priscilla has always denied this.
Asked by Barbara Walters what had really happened, she said; “I think the pressure was on somewhat. We’d been together six years, the relationship was going well. The suggestion I think came from Colonel Parker (Elvis’ manager) ‘Either you should get married or go on. If you’re not getting married, then what are you doing?’”
There was certainly very little romance to the wedding which sounds more like a business transaction and publicity stunt. Shortly before Christmas 1966, Elvis proposed and they married on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The wedding, arranged by Parker, lasted only eight minutes.
It was followed by a quick press conference and a $10,000 breakfast reception, attended by friends, family, and business associates from Elvis’ film and record companies MGM, RCA, and the William Morris Agency.
Some of Elvis’ closest friends were not invited to the actual wedding ceremony, including Red West, who had been with the star from the very beginning and had asked Elvis to be his Best Man. West was so angry he quit working for Elvis.
Following the reception, Elvis and Priscilla boarded a private jet and enjoyed a very short honeymoon in Palm Springs until May 4.
It was the beginning of the end.
Throughout his whole life as a star, Elvis repeatedly gave women hope he would marry them, but only went through with it once when he could see no other option.
He famously idealised youth and innocence in women. He was obsessed with cuddling and baby talk and apparently insisted Priscilla remain a virgin. Once a woman became a wife and a mother, it changed the way Elvis looked at her.
Priscilla, herself, was not pleased when she immediately fell pregnant, fearing it would disrupt the way Elvis saw her – and she was right. She later said that he stopped coming to her bed at all. They even effectively briefly separated.
Priscilla told Barbara Walters: “Elvis had a hard time dealing with me being a mother and the little girl that I was to him. I didn’t know it then, but that’s what I realised in later years – that he was a father to me.”
Elvis had not wanted that to change and when it did, it was the beginning of the end for their relationship. Although The King was a completely devoted and adoring father to Lisa Marie, his feelings for Priscilla had changed.
After living increasingly apart, they separated in February 1972. Priscilla’s worst fears had come true.
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