In the aftermath of the new Elvis biopic's release, here's everything you need to know about the relationship between the King of Rock'n'Roll and his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley.
Baz Luhrmann's latest movie, 'Elvis', dropped in UK cinemas on June 24 to rave reviews, with many critics hailing the Australian director for his effortless chronicling of the late musician's legendary life.
Unsurprisingly, one key issue explored in the film is the King of Rock'n'Roll's highly-scrutinized relationship with his ex-wife. Viewers can expect an insight into the evolution of the iconic couple's romance, with Australian actor Olivia DeJonge playing Priscilla from her first meeting with Elvis in Germany in 1959 to the collapse of their marriage in the early 70s. 'Elvis' has already received a stamp of approval from Priscilla Presley herself, who called Austin Butler's portrayal of her husband 'incredible' after an emotional private screening, as well as gushing Oscar hopes from his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.
The buzz around the film has also left many fans in desperate need of a crash course on Elvis and Priscilla's complicated relationship timeline ‒ so without further ado, here's everything you need to know.
Year 1959: Elvis and Priscilla first meet
Elvis Presley first met Priscilla Beaulieu on September 13, 1959, at a party in his home in Bad Nauheim, Germany. At the time, the Rock’n’Roll artist was serving with the US Army overseas, having signed up to the military in Tennessee the previous year.
Priscilla was also based in Germany because her stepfather, Air Force Officer Paul Beaulieu, had, like Elvis, been transferred to the European country for work. She didn’t speak a word of the language when she arrived, and, likely homesick for American culture, spent a lot of her free time listening to US tunes on the jukebox at her family’s military base.
Priscilla was reportedly introduced to Elvis by Currie Grant, a mutual friend of her stepdad and the Hound Dog singer.
At 24, Elvis was 10 years older than 14-year-old Priscilla when he embarked on a six-week-long ‘courtship’ with the teenager before his transfer back to the US. The separation was painful for both parties, prompting them to continue their ‘romance’ via letters. The pair didn’t see each other again until 1962, when, with the permission of her parents, Elvis invited Priscilla to spend Christmas vacation with him at his luxurious Graceland mansion in Memphis for two weeks.
It’s been reported that Priscilla’s parents had serious reservations about her relationship with Elvis, most of which concerned the massive age gap between the two. They apparently even forbid their daughter from seeing him when they first started ‘dating’, after she arrived home from his place past her curfew one night.
According to Elvis biographer, Pepper Ritter, the American musician “thought nothing of their age difference or that Priscilla was so young.”
Year 1963: Elvis and Priscilla move in together in Tennessee
In 1963, Elvis asked 17-year-old Priscilla to move to Memphis so that they could be together properly. He managed to persuade her parents to agree to the idea by promising them that she’d receive a top-notch education and that he would always financially support her. Despite their initial apprehensions, they agreed ‒ and Priscilla permanently returned from Germany to the States.
However, they weren’t about to let their underage daughter go without any conditions. It’s understood that they insisted Priscilla attend an all-girls Catholic high school to complete her studies and that she move in with Elvis’s parents, Vernon and Dee, until she was ready to marry him. The couple reportedly ignored these rules though, with Priscilla spending more and more time at Graceland until she eventually moved in altogether.
Year 1966: Elvis proposes to Priscilla
Elvis proposed to Priscilla one Christmas evening in 1966, when she was 22 and he was 32. The romantic gesture, which took place in the privacy of their bedroom at Graceland, saw the superstar get down on one knee and present ‘Cilla’ with a three-and-a-half carat diamond ring. Priscilla reflected on the memory years later in an interview with Elvis’s private secretary and author of My Life With Elvis, calling the whole interaction, ‘very relaxed.’
Year 1967: Priscilla and Elvis get married
Priscilla and Elvis got married at the Alladin Hotel in Las Vegas in May 1967, eight years after they first met. The 8-minute long ceremony, which was officiated by a Nevada Supreme Court justice, was witnessed by just 14 guests ‒ including Priscilla's parents and her younger sister, Michelle.
“My wedding was very unusual,” Priscilla told Closer in 2017. “It was the people closest to us, and private, and that’s how we wanted it. We didn’t want a fan club. We didn’t want a circus. We wanted it to be ours and not have that moment stolen from us.”
The newlyweds also hosted a champagne reception for 100 guests at the hotel, before holding a second reception in Graceland for those who couldn't make the Vegas shindig.
Year 1968: Elvis and Priscilla welcome their first child
On February 1, 1968, Elvis and Priscilla welcomed their first and only child together. Lisa Marie Presley was born at 5.01 pm at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, exactly nine months after her parents' wedding.
February 1972: Priscilla tells Elvis she's leaving him
Priscilla moved out of the couple's home in 1972, after telling Elvis she was leaving him for good. By this point, she'd already begun an extramarital romance with karate instructor, Mike Stone, and was deeply unhappy in her marriage. Priscilla later revealed that Elvis had cheated multiple times in their relationship, having had ample opportunities to do because of his glitzy career.
"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," she said.
August 1972: Priscilla and Elvis finalize divorce
Priscilla and Elvis finalized their divorce on 15 August 1972, just a few months after they filed for the legal separation. The proceedings were surprisingly amicable, leading to an agreement of a $1.5 million settlement and shared custody of their daughter, Lisa Marie.
Emma is a Lifestyle News Writer for woman&home. Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, she mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.
Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.
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