- Elvis and Priscilla Presley were married for six years, from 1967 to 1973.
- They met in 1959 when Priscilla was 14 and Elvis was 24.
- After his 1977 death, Priscilla became the executor of his estate and opened Graceland.
September 13, 1959: They meet at a party held by Elvis in his rented house in Germany, while he is serving in the Army. Priscilla is 14 years old, while Elvis is 24.
Elvis was already a pop-culture sensation by the time he joined the US Army. He had released three studio albums and filmed four movies, including “Jailhouse Rock.”
Priscilla — who lived in West Germany with her mother, siblings, and stepfather, who was stationed in the Air Force there — first encountered Elvis’ music three years prior, when she was 11.
“When we met, I was an impressionable 14-year-old. He was 24,” Priscilla wrote in a 1985 essay for People. She also called him “handsomer than he appeared in films, younger and more vulnerable looking with his GI haircut.”
Priscilla said they met at a party held by one of Elvis’ friends, Currie Grant, who was in the Air Force. That’s why she was allowed to attend the party in the first place.
March 1960: Elvis leaves Germany to return to the US after spending months with Priscilla.
Of the night before Elvis went back to the US, Priscilla wrote in 1985, “It was March 1, 1960, the night before Elvis was to leave Germany to return to the States. We were lying on his bed, our arms around each other. I was in a state of complete despair.”
“Would I ever see him again, be in his arms the way I had been nearly every night for the past six months? I could not bear the thought of the night ending and us saying goodbye for what I thought would be the last time. I wept and wept,” she continued.
“For the two days after Elvis left, I locked myself in my room, unable to eat, unable to sleep.”
In a June 2022 video for Vogue, Priscilla reminisced on the outfit (pictured above) she wore to say goodbye to Elvis.
“One request that he asked, that I not be teary-eyed. So, you see me smiling here. There are other pictures where I am down and looking away,” she said.
1960-1962: They communicate via phone, but rumors swirl about Elvis’ relationships with other women, such as Nancy Sinatra.
Reporters told Priscilla just a few days after Elvis left that he was now seeing Sinatra, she wrote in 1985. “They also told me Nancy had met Elvis at the airport. Days passed into weeks and I became more and more resigned that Elvis was now dating Nancy Sinatra.”
After three weeks, Elvis called Priscilla, and the two sporadically kept in touch.
“From then on, I lived in a state of suspended animation, waiting for Elvis’ infrequent calls. He would phone out of the blue after three weeks — or three months. He always did most of the talking, chatting about his current film or co-star. Elvis also mentioned that he wanted me to see Graceland, especially at Christmas,” she wrote.
Summer 1962: Priscilla’s parents allow her to make a two-week visit to Elvis. She is 17 years old. They travel to Las Vegas, instead of the pre-approved location of Los Angeles.
“My parents became confused and bewildered by our relationship. We tried to make them believe that it was proper and platonic, and they wanted to believe me. Whenever they tried to stop us from seeing each other, I pleaded and cried and made them and myself miserable. In retrospect, I don’t think anything could have stopped me from seeing Elvis,” Priscilla wrote in 1985.
When the idea of a trip was brought up, Priscilla’s father demanded “we wait until I was on summer vacation, that Elvis send me a first-class round-trip ticket, that he send my parents an itinerary of my daily activities for the two weeks I’d be in Los Angeles, that I be constantly chaperoned, and that I write my parents every day.” Elvis agreed to all these demands, and Priscilla made the trip.
However, Elvis and Priscilla ended up traveling to Las Vegas the next day, and she actually pre-wrote letters from Los Angeles to be sent every day while she was in Vegas.
December 1962: Priscilla’s parents allow her to move to Graceland, Elvis’ palatial estate, in the new year.
After the summer visit, Priscilla returned to the US to visit Graceland at Christmastime.
“When I returned to Germany and my life as a senior in high school, I began to reveal to mother that Elvis and I loved each other and longed to be together. Finally one day I summoned the courage to tell her that Elvis wanted me to finish school in Memphis,” Priscilla wrote in 1985.
At first, her parents didn’t approve, as she was still only 17. But after Elvis called Priscilla’s dad and told him that Priscilla wouldn’t be living with Elvis, but with his parents, that he’d make sure Priscilla graduated high school, and that he’d one day marry Priscilla, her parents acquiesced.
March 1963: Priscilla moves to Memphis, but not officially to Graceland. Instead, she’s supposed to live with Elvis’ parents a few blocks away.
She moved in with Elvis’ father and stepmother, but “living with them turned out to be difficult,” she said.
“I felt out of place in their home, and did not want to be an intrusion in their personal life,” Priscilla wrote in 1985.
May 1963: She officially moves to Graceland, with permission from her parents, as long as Elvis and Priscilla get married.
She attended high school in the morning and then spent the afternoons and evenings at Graceland, she said.
“Almost unnoticed, I began to move in my things. Elvis was still in Los Angeles filming ‘Fun in Acapulco’ and by the time he suggested that I move into Graceland I already had,” she wrote in 1985.
Christmas 1962: Elvis gifts Priscilla a dog for the holidays. She names him Honey.
“Elvis had gifted me with this darling little poodle at Christmastime in 1962. I named him Honey, and I traveled with him everywhere,” she said in a June 2022 Vogue video.
Summer 1963: Elvis begins shooting “Viva Las Vegas” in Hollywood and embarks on an affair with co-star Ann-Margret, which Priscilla confronts him about. It wasn’t his first, or last, affair.
“Women gravitated to him, so I would be nervous when he had to go places alone. I would even go with him to get his teeth cleaned! I always had an eye on him because everyone in the world was after him,” Priscilla told People in 2021.
She had the right idea — when Elvis began shooting “Viva Las Vegas” with Ann-Margret, the two began having an affair.
“We were indeed soul mates, shy on the outside, but unbridled within,” Ann-Margret wrote in her 1994 memoir, “My Story.” “It would become a force we couldn’t control.”
According to the Express, Priscilla wrote in her 1985 memoir, “Elvis and Me,” that she got so upset about rumors of Elvis and Ann-Margret getting engaged that she threw a vase at the wall. His reaction was to say this was to be expected.
“He said, ‘I want a woman who’s going to understand that things like this might just happen. Are you going to be her or not?'” Priscilla wrote.
Christmas 1966: Elvis proposes to Priscilla.
“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.”
During a 1973 interview, Priscilla explained that she hadn’t really been too keen on getting married, but society expected it.
“Even though we were perfectly content the way we were, at that time it wasn’t nice for people to live together,” she said.
May 1, 1967: They tie the knot in a small ceremony in Las Vegas. Priscilla was 21, Elvis was 32.
“Although many people thought our wedding was sudden, Elvis and I had been talking about it in stages,” Priscilla said in 1973. According to Priscilla, the two waited until they were married to sleep together.
Their wedding was in Las Vegas, and it was just eight minutes long — the only celebrity there was comedian Redd Foxx, according to People. The cake cost an estimated $3,200, which is around $28,000 in 2022 dollars.
There were just 14 guests at the actual ceremony, which was followed by a press conference, and then a champagne breakfast for 100 more guests organized by Elvis’ controversial manager Colonel Tom Parker, according to Vogue.
“My wedding was very unusual,” Priscilla said in 2015, Vogue reported. “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.”
May 1-4, 1967: They honeymoon in Palm Springs, California, before taking a longer break in Mississippi.
The house they stayed in, known as the House of Tomorrow, became an Elvis museum. Most recently, it was purchased in December 2020 for $2.6 million and renovated, according to Palm Springs Life.
May 29, 1967: They held another wedding reception for friends and family who couldn’t attend the Vegas wedding at Graceland.
Since their wedding was relatively small, the newlyweds had another reception at Graceland a few weeks later, Vogue reported.
December 1967: Elvis asks for a trial separation from Priscilla while she’s seven months pregnant.
Getting pregnant so early on in their marriage wasn’t part of their plan. “For the first year, I wanted to be alone with Elvis, without any responsibilities or obligations,” Priscilla told the Orlando Sentinel in 1985.
While, at first, the pregnancy seemed to be good for their relationship, Priscilla recalled Elvis asking for a separation, seemingly out of the blue. “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,” she recalled.
“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,” said Priscilla.
Two days later, the thought had passed and the separation was never brought up again.
February 1, 1968: Exactly nine months to the day after their wedding, their only daughter, Lisa Marie, is born. She died in 2023 at the age of 54.
“On February 1, 1968, I awoke at about eight o’clock and realized that labor had begun,” Priscilla told the Orlando Sentinel in 1985. “Our daughter, Lisa Marie, was born at 5:01 that afternoon.”
“Elvis came into the room and kissed me, thrilled that we had a perfectly normal, healthy baby. He was already in love with her. He watched me holding her and his eyes misted with happiness. Then he took us both in his arms and held us,” she said.
“The man in my hospital room that day was the man I loved and will always love. 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,” Priscilla continued.
1969: Elvis returns to the stage with a new motto: TCB, which stands for taking care of business. According to Priscilla, she was the one who designed the iconic lightning-bolt logo.
After a slow period, Elvis returned to the stage with his 1968 comeback TV special, which was depicted in the 2022 biopic “Elvis.” That special was actually the first time Priscilla saw him perform live.
“When I came to LA for the first time, he was contracted for three movies a year. And that’s all he had. He hadn’t performed in over 10 years. So his ’68 special was now the opportunity for touring again. And I never saw him [before],” she told “Today” in 2017.
After that success, Elvis began touring the country, with a brand-new logo: the letters TCB surrounding a lightning bolt.
According to Priscilla, she was the one who designed the logo. “I actually designed the TCB necklace,” she said in a 2022 Vogue video. “We were on a plane going to Memphis one day, and he said to me that he wanted to have something for the guys that made it just ‘for the guys,’ a piece of jewelry for TCB, specifically.”
She continued, “As we’re flying, it started to rain. And as it rained, a lightning bolt came across the sky. I looked at it, and I drew a lightning bolt, and then I put the TCB right on it. And then I said to him, ‘Is this what you mean?’ And he looked at it, and he said, ‘Oh my God, this is it. This is what I want.’ And the rest is history.”
Early 1972: Amidst Elvis’ multiple affairs, Priscilla begins an affair with her karate instructor Mike Stone.
According to Stone, their relationship was a secret for around a year before they told Elvis.
“It was Priscilla’s decision to tell Elvis, when she felt confident and secure in our relationship to tell Elvis,” Stone told the Elvis Information Network in 2021.
The two dated for a total of four years.
February 23, 1972: Priscilla and Elvis separate.
That date comes from the official divorce papers, which were auctioned off in 2017.
“I had to take responsibility for myself,” Priscilla told Barbara Walters in 1985. She said, by leaving Elvis, she “found Priscilla.”
October 9, 1973: Their divorce is amicably finalized, and they leave the courthouse hand in hand.
By all accounts, their post-marriage relationship was positive. “It was like we were never divorced,” Priscilla told People in 1978. “Elvis and I still hugged each other, still had love. We would say ‘Mommy said this’ and ‘Daddy said that.’ That helped Lisa to feel stable. There was never any arguing or bitterness.”
Elvis’ close friend and guitarist Charlie Hodge told People in 1978,”Even though there was a divorce, 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 dies at the age of 42. While Elvis’ father, Vernon, was the executor of his estate, Vernon named Priscilla his successor upon his death.
Priscilla told People in 1978 that Elvis’ death was “a shock,” but she had seen “his health failing and even went back to Memphis once to see if there was anything I could do.”
“It was a devastating time for myself and of course, the world, to hear the news, and it’s still unbelievable because he’s so much a part of our lives — my life and my daughter’s life and everyone around him,” Priscilla told Entertainment Tonight in 2017.
“When we get together, we talk about it, and the impact it made … for myself, and for my cohorts, who of course knew Elvis so well, we never thought he’d pass. We just never, ever had that in our minds,” she continued.
June 26, 1979: Priscilla takes control of Elvis’ estate upon Vernon’s death.
She was put in charge of Elvis’ estate until their daughter turned 25, in 1993. According to a Los Angeles Times report in 1989, Priscilla was told almost immediately after her ex-father-in-law’s death that the Presley estate was close to bankruptcy.
“I worried about my daughter’s future and about Graceland and the people who had worked for us for 20 years. I couldn’t comprehend them not having jobs or a place to stay. The question I kept asking myself over and over was, ‘What are we ever going to do?'” she told the Los Angeles Times.
June 7, 1982: Priscilla opens Graceland as a tourist attraction in order to help salvage Elvis’ estate.
Turning Graceland into a tourist attraction turned out to be a genius move on behalf of the Presley estate. Elvis’ estate made $23 million in 2020, making him the fifth-highest paid dead celebrity, according to Forbes. Graceland alone normally makes $10 million annually.
When Priscilla took over, Elvis’ estate was worth $4.9 million. In 2020, a Presley executive estimated to Rolling Stone that the estate is worth somewhere between $400 and $500 million, and that was pre-“Elvis” biopic bump.
Much of that comes down to Priscilla’s stewardship of her ex-husband’s estate and her dedication to her family.
1985: Priscilla publishes her autobiography, “Elvis and Me.”
Many of the quotes in this timeline are from Priscilla’s book, which is a frank look into what it was like to be the Queen to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll for a time.
1988-1998: Priscilla produces various TV series and TV movies about her ex-husband, including “Finding Graceland” and “Elvis: The Tribute.”
According to IMDb, Priscilla produced the TV movie “Elvis and Me” in 1988, the 1990 TV series “Elvis,” the 1994 TV movie “Elvis: The Tribute,” the 1998 movie “Finding Graceland,” and the 2018 documentary “Elvis Presley: The Searcher.”
June 24, 2022: Priscilla is played by Olivia DeJonge in the biopic “Elvis” starring Austin Butler. Priscilla and the rest of her family approve of the film and Butler’s performance.
“For those curious about the new film ‘ELVIS,’ Baz Luhrmann, the director, provided a private screening for me and Jerry Schilling at Warner studios recently. This story is about Elvis and Colonel Parker’s relationship,” Priscilla wrote on Facebook in April 2022.
“Austin Butler, who played Elvis is outstanding. Halfway through the film Jerry and I looked at each other and said WOW!!! Bravo to him…he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was extremely nervous playing this part. I can only imagine,” she continued.
“The story, as we all know, does not have a happy ending. But I think you will understand a little bit more of Elvis’ journey, penned by a [director] who put his heart and soul and many hours into this film.”
September 12, 2022: Sofia Coppola announces she’ll be directing an adaptation of “Elvis and Me,” Priscilla’s autobiography, called “Priscilla.” Cailee Spaeny will play Priscilla and Jacob Elordi will play Elvis.
“I was just so interested in Priscilla’s story and her perspective on what it all felt like to grow up as a teenager in Graceland. She was going through all the stages of young womanhood in such an amplified world — kinda similar to Marie Antoinette,” Coppola told Vogue in 2022.
Coppola also shared that Priscilla is an executive producer on the film. “I’ve met with her a few times, and she’s been incredibly open. She’s also been really supportive of Cailee as we head into filming,” Coppola said.
January 12, 2023: Priscilla announces the death of their daughter, Lisa Marie.
Just days after Lisa Marie was in the audience to watch Austin Butler win a Golden Globe for playing her father, the 54-year-old was rushed to the hospital and soon died after experiencing cardiac arrest, according to TMZ.
“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, Insider previously reported. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”
Lisa Marie was set to inherit Graceland. Her three surviving children will now inherit the home and control of Elvis’ estate upon Priscilla’s death.
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