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Inside Priscilla Presley's marriage to Elvis and how new biopic brought her to tears

Bruno Cooke May 24, 2022
elvis presley priscilla beaulieu presley

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Priscilla Anne Presley – formerly Wagner, and changed by adoption to Beaulieu – is the ex-wife of rock ’n’ roll behemoth Elvis Presley, and one of his biopic’s biggest fans. How did they get together, did they have children, and what did Priscilla say about Baz Luhrmann’s film?

Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu met in West Germany, age 24 and 14 respectively

Elvis Presley met Priscilla Beaulieu at his home in Bad Nauheim, West Germany. It was 13 September 1959.

He was serving in the military at the time. Priscilla was 14 years old, and Elvis was 24. According to Albert Goldman’s 1981 biography, her parents weren’t best pleased when she arrived home late one night, and forbade her from seeing Elvis again.

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Elvis | Official Trailer

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Elvis | Official Trailer
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However, they saw each other frequently from then until his departure from West Germany, in March 1960 – about six months. 

After he returned to the US, Priscilla found herself inundated with interview requests, fan mail from Elvis devotees, and even letters from “lonesome GIs”. That’s according to Priscilla Presley herself – she published Elvis And Me, a biography, in 1985.

When rumours circulated that Elvis had entered into a relationship with Nancy Sinatra, Priscilla started to doubt her future with the rockstar.

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Elvis Presley shows off his wife Princilla’s three-carat diamond wedding ring on their wedding day in Las Vegas.

Elvis proposed in 1966 and they married the following year

After Elvis’ return stateside, he and Priscilla didn’t see each other again for over two years. Then, in the summer of 1962, Priscilla’s parents allowed her to visit him for two weeks. Elvis paid for a first-class round trip, plus a chaperone.

The following year, she moved to Memphis.

She suggested in a 1973 interview with Ladies Home Journal that she and Elvis were happy simply to live together – as in, and not marry – but said that “at that time it wasn’t nice for people to live together [without marrying]“.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

They married on 1 May 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The wedding lasted just eight minutes, according to the Express newspaper’s account. They honeymooned in Palm Springs.

“I loved playing house,” she later said, according to Peter Guralnick’s book Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley. “Here was an opportunity to take care of him myself. No maids or housekeepers to pamper us.”

Daughter Lisa Marie, separation and divorce

Priscilla Presley gave birth to her and Elvis’ only child, a daughter, exactly nine months after their wedding. 

Born 1 February 1968, Lisa is currently 54. She’s a singer and songwriter, and the sole heir to her father’s estate. She recently divorced for the fourth time. Her husbands include Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis and Priscilla separated in 1972, five years after they tied the knot. They agreed to share custody of Lisa Marie; their divorce was amicable. 

Priscilla said in a 2016 interview with Entertainment Online: “I did not divorce him because I didn’t love him. He was the love of my life, but I had to find out about the world.”

Earlier this month, Priscilla Presley tweeted about Baz Luhrman’s Elvis biopic. Hearing how much her daughter loved the film “brought tears”, she wrote. “I relived every moment.”

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.