Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley's only daughter, has died at 54

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Lisa Marie Presley, the beloved only child of Elvis Presley and Graceland heir who had been embraced by millions of fans of the singer as a living link to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, has died. She was 54.

Presley’s death was confirmed by her mother, Priscilla, who called her daughter "the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”

"It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us," Priscilla Presley said in a statement Thursday night.

Presley was hospitalized Thursday after being treated for what TMZ and other news outlets reported as cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California, west of Los Angeles.

Lisa Marie Presley before a rehearsal with her band at Third Encore Studios on May 5, 2012.
Lisa Marie Presley before a rehearsal with her band at Third Encore Studios on May 5, 2012.

Presley — who would have celebrated her 55th birthday Feb. 1 — recorded albums and toured as a singer, and she made headlines with high-profile marriages to singer Michael Jackson and actor Nicolas Cage.

But as her uncanny resemblance to her father affirmed, she remained best known for her status as what might be called rock 'n' roll royalty: Elvis' daughter and the heir to Graceland.

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As a result, Lisa Marie's death was a blow not just to the Presley family but to the extended "family" of fans worldwide, many of whom watched her grow up and who continue to mourn Elvis, who died at 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, also of cardiac arrest (possibly exacerbated by drug use).

Also a heart attack victim was Lisa Marie's grandmother and Elvis' mother, Gladys Presley, who died Aug. 14, 1958, at the age of 46.

Lisa Marie Presley and Graceland

Lisa Marie Presley's most recent public appearance in Memphis was last week on the Graceland lawn, for the ceremonial cutting of an Elvis birthday cake. The Jan. 8 birthday celebration and the August "Elvis Week" candlelight vigil procession to the Presley gravesite on the mansion grounds are two times each year when hundreds or thousands of Elvis fans gather in Memphis.

Graceland is “probably the most famous house in the world, and there is only one person whose house it is,” said Elvis Presley Enterprises managing partner Joel Weinshanker, introducing Lisa Marie last week. EPE manages licensing and branding rights to Elvis Presley's image and other products and ventures; Graceland, meanwhile, was owned by Lisa Marie, who inherited the estate on her 25th birthday, as stipulated in Elvis' will. The estate will now go to Lisa Marie's children. Opened to the public in 1982, the mansion generally attracts about 500,000 visitors a year.

Riley Keough, from left, Lisa Marie Presley and Priscilla Presley greet the press during a red carpet event before the screening for the new biopic movie 'Elvis' at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. on Saturday, June 11, 2022.
Riley Keough, from left, Lisa Marie Presley and Priscilla Presley greet the press during a red carpet event before the screening for the new biopic movie 'Elvis' at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

Apparently encouraged in part by her pride in director Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," a biographical motion picture about her father that was a commercial and critical success, Lisa Marie had elevated her public profile during the past year, appearing at film festivals and other events, and actively promoting the movie and sharing memories of her father. Her emotional response to the film seemed to renew her interest in being a steward of Elvis' legacy.

In addition to being at this year's Elvis birthday celebration, Lisa Marie attended a June premiere screening of "Elvis" at Graceland, along with her young twins, Harper and Finley Lockwood, and her actress daughter, Riley Keough. Tuesday, she and Priscilla were at the Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood, where Austin Butler won a Best Actor award for his portrayal of "Elvis."

According to reporters, Presley suffered cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California, and was rushed to the West Hills Hospital and Medical Center after paramedics performed CPR.

In a statement released Thursday night, Priscilla Presley said of her daughter: "She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known."

She added: "We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers. At this time there will be no further comment."

Elvis and Priscilla's 'Rockabye Baby'

The daughter of perhaps the most famous man in the world, Lisa Marie Presley — generally referred to as "Lisa Marie" by the public but known simply as "Lisa" to family and friends — was in a sometimes unwanted spotlight for her entire life.

Weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces, Lisa Marie was born at 5:01 p.m. at the old Baptist Hospital on Union Avenue, nine months after the May 1, 1967, marriage of Elvis and Priscilla in Las Vegas.

"'Rockabye Baby' Joins Presley Top Ten" was the headline on the front page of The Commercial Appeal, which reported: "There'll be a new, if not melodious, sound at Graceland soon — that of Lisa Marie Presley, the first child of Mr. and Mrs. Elvis Presley." Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, made the announcement to the waiting press corps: "It's a baby girl."

When asked how he liked his daughter, Elvis told a reporter with the Memphis Press-Scimitar: "Oh, man, she's too much!"

That opinion apparently never wavered: In 1975, Elvis bought a Convair 880 jet that had been taken out of service by Delta Airlines. After he had the airplane refurbished, he christened it "The Lisa Marie." (In 1984, the jet was moved to a lot across the street from Graceland mansion, and is now a tourist attraction.)

After Elvis and Priscilla divorced in 1973, Lisa Marie spent most of her time in Marina de Rey, California, with her mother, while also frequently staying with her father in California or at Graceland.

"It was my favorite place to be when I was growing up," she told The Commercial Appeal, in 1988, referring to Graceland.

She was only 9 when her father died. Nevertheless, "I remember him very well," she told the newspaper. "He was just a powerful person, spiritually."

Lisa Marie generally remained outside the limelight until adulthood. She did not give her first interviews until 1988, after being sheltered from public — and tabloid — attention in the wake of her father's death.

Eventually, she opened up about various struggles, telling NBC's "Today" show in 2018 that she had overcome a drug addiction that started when she was 45.

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Marriages and children

In 1988, Presley married musician Danny Keough. The couple's daughter, Riley Keough, 33, is a highly successful actress whose credits include "Mad Max: Fury Road." Their 27-year-old son, Benjamin Keough, died July 12, 2020, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Calabasas home that the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner ruled a suicide.

In 2022, Presley reflected on her son's death in an essay for People magazine. "Death is part of life whether we like it or not — and so is grieving," she wrote. "There is so much to learn and understand on the subject, but here's what I know so far: One is that grief does not stop or go away in any sense, a year, or years after the loss."

She also revealed that she and her son had matching tattoos on their feet: a "Celtic eternity knot," to represent "our eternal love and our eternal bond."

After divorcing Keough in 1994, Presley married superstar "King of Pop" Michael Jackson, whose popularity rivaled that of her father. In October of that year, Presley and Jackson were in Memphis to attend "Elvis Aaron Presley: The Tribute," a concert at the Pyramid that featured performances by Tony Bennett, Iggy Pop, Jerry Lee Lewis and others.

The marriage inspired a frenzy of cynical tabloid press coverage and often scornful public debate. However, "I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone," Presley wrote in an online MySpace blog, after Jackson's 2009 death. "And I loved him very much.

"I became very emotionally/spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him."

October 9, 1994 - Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley leave skybox seats in The Pyramid just before the conclusion of "Elvis Aaron Presley: The Tribute."
October 9, 1994 - Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley leave skybox seats in The Pyramid just before the conclusion of "Elvis Aaron Presley: The Tribute."

The Presley-Jackson marriage ended in 1996. Presley's subsequent marriage to Nicolas Cage lasted from 2002 to 2004. "Lisa had the greatest laugh of anyone I ever met," Cage said Thursday, in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "She lit up every room, and I am heartbroken. I find some solace believing she is reunited with her son Benjamin.”

In 2006, Presley married musician and music producer Michael Lockwood, and that marriage lasted until 2021. The couple's twins, Harper Vivienne Anne Lockwood and Finley Aaron Love Lockwood, are now 14.

Lisa Marie Presley's music career

In her 30s, Lisa Marie followed in her father's footsteps and began a music career. In 2003, she released her debut album, "To Whom It May Concern," which — like most of her father's LPs — became a gold record, selling more than 500,000 copies. The album, on the Capitol label, consisted of original songs, with lyrics by Presley. Two more albums followed: "Now What," in 2005, which also consisted mostly of Presley originals, and "Storm & Grace," in 2012, produced by roots-rock stalwart T Bone Burnett.

Lisa Marie also toured in concert. She made her first Memphis appearance as the opening act of a 2003 Chris Isaak show at the Memphis Botanic Garden. "Presley came out sexy yet tough," reported The Commercial Appeal, "with a borrowed sneer.. and a voice that was stronger live than on record."

Reflecting during a 2005 interview with The Commercial Appeal on the pressures of being a widely recognized entertainer, Presley said of her father: "I don't know how he did it. He had quite a cross to bear, people hating him and people loving him. I can relate to that and to him more than I ever have."

Presley also made news due to her association with Scientology, which she reportedly ended in 2014. In 1997, she and musician Isaac Hayes opened a Scientology center on Central Avenue; actresses Juliette Lewis and Jenna Elfman also attended the ribbon-cutting.

In 2001, Presley, Cage, and punk rock icon Johnny Ramone, a close friend of Lisa Marie's, were in Memphis together for the opening of a MIFA center for the homeless.

Like her father, Lisa Marie was known for an irreverent sense of humor, which she characterized as self-deprecating and "dark." In a 2003 interview, she told Playboy magazine she figured she would "end up" buried near her dad. "Or I'll shrink my head and put it in a glass box in the living room," she said. "I'll get more tourists to Graceland that way."

She addressed the topic with similar candor and humor in the lyrics to the song "Lights Out," on her debut album. "Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis," Presley sang. "That's where my family's buried and gone/ Last time I was there I noticed a space left/ Next to them there in Memphis/ In the damn back lawn..."

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Lisa Marie Presley dies: Elvis' only child was 54