Priscilla Presley discusses her relationship with Elvis in 1985
If they had already been together for seven years anyway, why would The King have to be forced to marry the woman he was living with? He had even “molded” her into the perfect image of his ideal partner. Unfortunately, that was at the root of all their problems, as well as one of the main reasons he did not want to tie the knot, and ultimately the end of their short-lived marriage. One of Elvis’ favourite servants at Graceland later revealed she had found him in tears the night before the wedding.
The King’s housekeeper and cook Alberta Holman had been with the family for years and was very close to his mother, Gladys. Elvis had 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 to comfort him.
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.
When she asked why he didn’t just cancel it he apparently replied, “I don’t have a choice.”
Elvis married Priscilla on May 1, 1967
Elvis married Priscilla in an eight-minute ceremony
Biographer Alma Nash said: “Elvis was always looking for that young girl he could mold into the image of Gladys who had died when he was in the army. In a way, he dressed young women to resemble her. He picked out their clothes. Priscilla was perfect.”
They met in 1959 when Priscilla Beaulieu was just 14 and The King was doing his military service in Germany. This was a pattern for the star. Another girlfriend, Sandy Martindale was the same age when they started seeing each other a few years after Elvis returned to the US.
Nash said: “In the American South at that time it wasn’t that unusual for a man of his age to date a girl of her age.” However, that didn’t mean it would play well to a wider market.
Nash added: “When Priscilla moved into Graceland, the Colonel lost his mind. It hadn’t been that long since Jerry Lee Lewis married his under-age cousin – and people went crazy.”
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Elvis met Priscilla when she was 14
Elvis and his mother Gladys
The Colonel insisted Priscilla was kept a secret, both for the morality issue and to maintain Elvis’ appeal as a free and single teen idol.
However, this encouraged Elvis to be constantly seen dating starlets and actresses throughout his Hollywood film career in the Sixties. He became notorious for pursuing most of his co-stars, particularly Viva Las Vegas’ Ann-Margret. Many of them have since testified that he would romance them with talk of devotion and often marriage.
Meanwhile, Priscilla was left back in Graceland. Elvis was torn between his battling desires to play the field and to settle down with a woman to make his mama proud.
Priscilla has testified that she was a virgin until they married. The star liked to keep her on a pedestal, while he played the field elsewhere.
However, this was beginning to cause problems for his career.
Elvis life and death
Nash said: “Elvis was getting older, it was time for him to settle down and get married. Another reason that the Colonel was eager to get Elvis settled and married was that there was a morals clause in his contract with the studios and of course Elvis was being Elvis and violating that clause all the time.”
Surprisingly it wasn’t all the running around with endless new girlfriends that was the problem, it was that he had been living in ‘unmarried sin’ with Priscilla for so many years.
Priscilla’s father was also growing increasingly angry at the lack of wedding and the worry his daughter might be used, disgraced and then cast aside. There were reports he even 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 with her parents when they allowed her to visit from Germany at 15 and then move permanently at 16. It had been promised that Priscilla would stay in Memphis, living in a separate house from Elvis and attending school.
Elvis and Ann-Margret
On top of all this, Colonel Parker was not happy with the star’s explosive relationship with Ann-Margret. She was strong-willed and ambitious and a besotted Elvis had already begun asking his manager to take her on as a client. Parker saw her as a dangerous distraction and possibly a threat to his influence.
Nash said: “Elvis was hot and heavy with Ann-Margret and it looked like he might dump Priscilla to end up with her. The Colonel was very worried about that. So the idea that Elvis would be a married man and settled appealed to everyone… Just not to Elvis.”
Sandy Martindale, who Elvis was dating at the same time as Ann-Margret said: “I know he loved Priscilla but I don’t think he was ready to get married.
Elvis and Priscilla leave on their honeymoon
Years later, Priscila told Barbara Walters what had really happened: “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 to Priscilla 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.
Their daughter, Lisa Marie, was born exactly eight months later on February 1. Priscilla sensed it was the beginning of the end.
Elvis and Priscilla with baby Lisa Marie
Elvis’ obsession with virginity is well-documented. He insisted Priscilla remain ‘pure’ for those seven years and their sexual relations never progressed beyond foreplay. He was also fixated on cuddling with teenage girls and ‘fathering’ them.
Priscilla not pleased when she immediately fell pregnant, fearing it would disrupt the way Elvis saw her – and she was right. He stopped coming to her bed at all. He even briefly left her a few months later.
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, had very likely not wanted to marry at all so he could keep Priscilla in some artificial virginal limbo while he played around on the side. But it was too late now. After living increasingly apart, they separated in February 1972 and divorced on October 9, 1973.