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Getty Priscilla and Elvis Presley
"I truly cherish the great times. As you grow up, there are always fears and insecurities. But as you get older you understand it all," Priscilla told PEOPLE in 2021.
The entrepreneur first met the famous crooner in 1959 at just 14 years old while he was serving in the army overseas in Germany. "He was fun to be with," she told Good Morning America in June 2022. "We had fun everywhere we went."
She was also admittedly attracted by his boyish good looks. "He wasn't bad to look at," Priscilla joked in a 2017 interview with Today. "Everyone had a crush on him."
It was Priscilla that caught his attention, however. With the reluctant blessing of her parents, the pair began spending more and more time together. "Each night that I was with him he entrusted a little more of himself — his doubts, his secrets and his frustrations," she told PEOPLE in a tell-all interview in 1985. "It was a lot to expect someone my age to understand, but I tried. I listened to his desires to become a great actor like his idols Marlon Brando, James Dean, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger."
By the time Elvis left for home, the couple had cemented their bond, continuing to correspond long-distance, and in 1963, Priscilla moved to America to be with him. "People have said, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe your parents let you go with this stranger'. But it was a very innocent time," she told Good Morning America in 2017. "I liked him very much. I certainly felt safe. … We cannot compare it to today. We still had morals, high standard," she said. "There was a lot of care."
Still, their relationship had its downsides, as Priscilla explained to PEOPLE in 1978. "My life was his life. He had to be happy. My problems were secondary. I want to grow. I want to do things."
Coupled with frequent alleged infidelities on Elvis's part and an affair of Priscilla's own with karate instructor Mike Stone, the twosome were ultimately driven apart. By 1972, they had called it quits. "I did not divorce him because I didn't love him ― he was the love of my life, truly," Priscilla told British talk show Loose Women. "If anything, I left because I needed to find out what the world was like."
While Elvis took the news hard, Priscilla insisted there was no ill will between them in the years after their divorce, all the way up until his untimely death in 1977. "Elvis and I still hugged each other, still had love," she recalled to PEOPLE in 1978.
Here is the complete timeline of Elvis and Priscilla Presley's relationship.
September 1959: Elvis Presley meets Priscilla Beaulieu
Getty Priscilla and Elvis Presley
The pair first crossed paths when Priscilla was in the ninth grade. The then-teenager was escorted to Elvis's home by Currie Grant, a friend of the singer's she had met at the Eagles Club. "I spotted Elvis immediately," she would later tell PEOPLE. "He was handsomer than he appeared in films, younger and more vulnerable looking with his GI haircut."
Despite her young age, she managed to impress the "Suspicious Minds" singer, who performed two songs — "Rags to Riches" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" — for her and his guests. "I saw Elvis trying to get my attention," Priscilla said. "I noticed that the less response I showed, the more he began singing just for me. I couldn't believe that Elvis Presley was trying to impress me."
1959: Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu share their first kiss
Priscila continued to visit Elvis at his home in Germany, and on their third meeting, the pair shared their first kiss. "When it was time for me to go, he kissed me goodbye — my first real kiss," she told PEOPLE in 1985. "He broke away first, saying, 'We have plenty of time, Little One.' He kissed my forehead and sent me home."
1959: Elvis Presley meets Priscilla Beaulieu's parents
Priscilla's parents insisted on meeting Elvis, so on their fourth encounter, he came to her family's home. "He arrived in his BMW wearing his Army uniform to impress dad," she told PEOPLE.
It didn't make him immune from examination, however, with Priscilla's father inquiring as to his intentions for his daughter. "'Well, sir, I happen to be very fond of her,'" Priscilla remembered her future husband saying.
"'She's a lot more mature than her age and I enjoy her company. It hasn't been easy for me, being away from home and all. It gets kinda lonely. I guess you might say I need someone to talk to. You don't have to worry about her, Captain," he promised. "I'll take good care of her.'"
1959: Elvis Presley courts Priscilla Beaulieu
Elvis's speech did the trick, and Priscilla was allowed to continue seeing him despite their 10-year age gap. For the next several months, the pair settled into a comfortable routine. "Elvis would call after 7 to let me know that I'd be picked up at 8. I had to dress quickly, trying to find some way to appear older than my age," the actress told PEOPLE.
According to Priscilla, much of their evenings were spent in the company of others and the two had very little alone time. "We had a nightly ritual. At about 10 or 11, Elvis would glance at me and look toward the stairs. Then, naïvely assuming that nobody knew where I was headed, I'd casually proceed to his bedroom, where I'd lie on his bed, waiting for him to appear. … And then we'd kiss long, deep passionate kisses."
Priscilla revealed in her 1986 autobiography, Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and King of Rock 'N Roll, that the relationship never physically progressed beyond that, however, until they were married in 1967.
March 2, 1960: Elvis Presley leaves Germany
Priscilla and Elvis spent his last night in Germany together before he returned home to America. "We were lying on his bed, our arms around each other," she recalled to PEOPLE. "I was in a state of complete despair."
Things got worse once Elvis left. "I locked myself in my room, unable to eat, unable to sleep," Priscilla said. "Finally I forced myself to go to school and found myself swamped by reporters and photographers."
March 22, 1960: Elvis Presley calls Priscilla Beaulieu
Despite reports of a budding romance between Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra overseas (something the "These Boots Are Made for Walking" singer would later deny) the Love Me Tender star didn't forget about Priscilla.
"21 days after he left, the phone rang at 3 o'clock in the morning," she recounted to PEOPLE in 1985. According to Priscilla, Presley said, "Hi, Baby. How's my little girl?"
He continued to call her sporadically every three weeks to three months, during which he would fill her in about his films and costars.
Summer 1962 - Priscilla Beaulieu visits Elvis Presley in L.A
Two years after leaving Germany, Elvis arranged for his long-distance love to visit him in Los Angeles following what Priscilla told PEOPLE were several convincing phone calls to both her mother and father. In addition to promising to send them a daily itinerary of the couple's activities, Elvis conceded to making sure Priscilla wrote home every day during her two-week stay.
Though he made her sleep at a friend's house on her first night in the states to avoid any potential run-ins with his ex-girlfriend, Anita Wood, who was also in town, he whisked her off to Vegas the very next day. Priscilla got around her parents' rules by sending them pre-written letters that she arranged to have mailed from Los Angeles.
"For the next two weeks, we slept during the day and played at night," Priscilla recalled. "If there was a show, we saw it; if there was a casino, we gambled at it."
The Naked Gun star claimed that Elvis also introduced her to amphetamines and sleeping pills during this time to help her keep up with him. "Despite whatever misgivings I had about pills, I took them," she said.
December 25, 1962: Priscilla Beaulieu visits Elvis Presley for the holidays
After spending a few months back home in Germany, Priscilla traveled to Tennessee once more to see Elvis. "We were apart for a few months, then Elvis and I spent the Christmas of 1962 together at Graceland," she told PEOPLE.
1963: Priscilla Beaulieu moves in with Elvis Presley's parents in Memphis
Elvis convinced Priscilla's father to let her finish out her senior year at Immaculate Conception High School in Memphis, Tennessee, on the condition that she live with his parents, Vernon and Dee Presley.
"Living with them turned out to be difficult," Priscilla told PEOPLE. "I felt out of place in their home, and did not want to be an intrusion in their personal life."
1963: Priscilla Beaulieu moves into Graceland with Elvis Presley
Rather than continue her discomfort, Priscilla moved into Elvis's Graceland home while he was away in L.A. "In the afternoons and evenings I began spending more time at Graceland with Elvis' grandma, often staying all night," she recounted to PEOPLE. "Almost unnoticed, I began to move in my things. … By the time he suggested that I move into Graceland I already had."
December 1966: Elvis Presley proposes to Priscilla Beaulieu
Having discussed the matter for a while, Elvis presented Priscilla with a 3.5-carat diamond ring three weeks before Christmas. "It was a surprise," she told NPR's "World Cafe" program in 2017. "He got on his knee with a gift behind his back and told me to close my eyes. Of which I did and then told me to open them and he presented me with a beautiful engagement ring."
According to the Elvis and Me author, the decision came in part to appease society. "Even though we were perfectly content the way we were, at that time it wasn't nice for people to live together, [without being married]," she later explained to Ladies Home Journal.
May 1, 1967: Elvis and Priscilla Presley get married in Las Vegas
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
When she was 21 years old, Elvis and Priscilla got married on May 1, 1967, in a Las Vegas ceremony that lasted just eight minutes. Their nuptials took place in a private suite of the now-defunct Aladdin Hotel. The pair still celebrated in style, however, with the groom in a brocade silk tux and a Western boots and the bride in a beaded chiffon gown with long lace sleeves that she purchased off-the-rack from a department store called Westwood.
Later, they shared their first dance to "Love Me Tender" and feasted on a six-tier yellow sponge cake that reportedly cost $3,200 (roughly $22,000 with inflation). "Each layer was filled twice with apricot marmalade and a kirsch [liqueur] flavored Bavarian cream … glazed with fondant icing and decorated with royal icing and marzipan roses," the hotel's pastry chef at the time, Denis Martiq, shared with Memphis magazine.
May 1967: Elvis and Priscilla Presley go on a honeymoon
Following their nuptials, the pair spent a full month at a five-bedroom, five-bathroom estate in Palm Springs, California, called the House of Tomorrow.
1967: Elvis and Priscilla Presley adapt to life as newlyweds
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Priscilla told PEOPLE in 2021 that she took to the role of a wife quite readily. "I was always ready to greet him at the door and pamper him," she said. "I loved taking care of Elvis very much. I loved tending to him. I loved feeding him."
She and Elvis even developed their own lingo. "We would baby talk, because you have to have your own language when you have that many people around."
December 1967: Elvis Presley asks Priscilla Presley for a trial separation
Seven months later, Elvis shocked Priscilla, who was seven months pregnant, by asking to spend some time apart. She recounted his words for the Orlando Sentinel, writing, "Cilla, I have to have time to think. Things just aren't going right. It'll be good for the two of us to take a little time off, like a trial separation. Be apart from one another for a while."
When asked why, Elvis reportedly told his wife that she hadn't done anything wrong and that "he was going through some things."
Reflecting on the moment, Priscilla wrote, "I don't think Elvis really intended to leave me. It wasn't his style. I later realized he too had questions about how a baby would affect his life. Would his public accept him as a father? He wasn't even sure whether his fans had adapted to his becoming a husband. How loyal would they be?"
The pair never spoke of the incident again, according to Priscilla.
February 1, 1968: Elvis and Priscilla Presley welcome their first child
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
The King of Rock 'n' Roll gained an heir to his throne on Feb. 1, 1968, with the birth of the couple's first and only child, Lisa Marie Presley. Priscilla remembered the day in an article published by the Orlando Sentinel in November 1985.
"I awoke at about eight o'clock and realized that labor had begun," she wrote. "Frightened, I called my mother in New Jersey and she suggested I ring the doctor immediately. He told me to head straight for the hospital. I gently woke Elvis and told him the big day had arrived."
After "calmly" applying her makeup (and making a trip to the wrong hospital), the couple arrived at the right location just in time to welcome their new baby at 5:01 p.m. "Elvis came into the room and kissed me, thrilled that we had a perfectly normal, healthy baby. He was already in love with her," Priscilla wrote. "He was in awe, saying, 'I can't believe that I made part of this beautiful child.' "
For the new mom, seeing the singer as a dad showed him in a new light. "The man in my hospital room that day was the man I loved and will always love," she said. "He didn't have to try to be strong and decisive or sexy; he wasn't afraid to show his warmth or vulnerability. He didn't have to act the part of Elvis Presley, superstar. He was just a man, my husband."
1968: Priscilla Presley sees Elvis Presley perform for the first time
According to Priscilla, it was nine years into their relationship before she ever saw him perform live for a Christmas special on NBC in 1968."That was my first time," she told the Today show in 2017. "When I came to L.A. for the first time, he was contracted for three movies a year. … He hadn't performed in over 10 years. So his '68 special was now the opportunity for touring again. And I never saw him!"
February 1972: Priscilla Presley has an affair and tells Elvis she's leaving him
PEOPLE reported in 1996 that Priscilla had entered into a romantic relationship with her karate teacher Mike Stone in the early '70s and told Elvis she was leaving him in 1972.
Her decision came on the heels of the actor's own alleged infidelities. "He wasn't faithful, not that he had someone special, but when you're in the entertainment business there is always that and I tried to turn my back to that, but I just didn't want to share him," Priscilla told Sunday News in 2018.
She elaborated to Ladies' Home Journal in "In mid-1972 I finally realized that things were not going to change — and that we had separate lives completely," she said.
Elvis took the news hard, according to his friend Mae Boren Axton. "It killed him," Axton told PEOPLE. "It hurt his ego, and it hurt his heart."
February 23, 1972: Elvis and Priscilla Presley separate
The couple's divorce documents revealed that Elvis and Priscilla Presley first began living apart on Feb. 23, 1972.
August 15, 1972: Elvis and Priscilla Presley finalize their divorce
In auctioned-off documents from the couple's divorce, dated Aug. 15, 1972, the couple's assets were divided, with Priscilla receiving Elvis's 1971 Mercedes-Benz, 1969 Cadillac Eldorado, 1971 Harley motorcycle and half the income from their three homes. In addition, PEOPLE reported in 1996 that Priscilla also got $1.7 million, plus $8,000 a month for 10 years.
1973 to 1977: Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley settle into their new roles as co-parents
Old habits died hard for the former lovers despite their split. "It was like we were never divorced," Priscilla told PEOPLE one year after his death. "We would say 'Mommy said this' and 'Daddy said that.' That helped Lisa to feel stable."
Guitarist Charlie Hodge told PEOPLE, "They were like two high school kids. They still called each other and told each other everything they were going to do."
August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies
Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, at his Graceland home in Memphis. Preliminary autopsy findings pointed to cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular, ineffective heartbeat.
"It was a shock, although I saw his health failing and even went back to Memphis once to see if there was anything I could do," Priscilla later said.
August 18, 1977: Priscilla Presley attends Elvis Presley's funeral
Priscilla was among the roughly 80,000 people who came to witness Elvis's funeral procession. "I was still shocked. It was just too hard to believe," she said during an appearance on TODAY. "And going out the gates in the limo and seeing the streets lined up on both sides all the way to the cemetery. You'd see glimpses, you'd see people crying, hysterical, fainting, and that's how impactful it was and still to this day. People come around the same time and they're all there."
May 2, 2022: Priscilla Presley walks the Met Gala carpet with Austin Butler
Priscilla gave the Elvis biopic her official stamp of approval by walking the Met Gala 2022 red carpet with its star, Austin Butler, who plays the role of her late husband. She also raved about the film on Facebook, writing, "This story is about Elvis and Colonel Parker's relationship. It is a true story told brilliantly and creatively that only Baz, in his unique artistic way, could have delivered. Austin Butler, who played Elvis is outstanding."
She later told Good Morning America that she wished her late husband could have seen it. "It was perfection. … As I was watching it, actually, I was going wow, this is a movie that he would have really loved. Showing who he was, what he was striving for, what his dreams were."
June 12, 2022: Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley attend the Graceland premiere of Elvis
Keough commented on their appearance via Instagram, writing, "We're so thrilled to be in Memphis with @elvismovie and with all of the wonderful performers, @austinbutler @olivia_dejonge @kelvharrjr and Tom Hanks have all done outstanding work. Thank you to @bazluhrmann for bringing the film to Graceland. It's been such a special weekend, I couldn't think of a better place to Premiere ELVIS in America."