If Elvis and Priscilla reunited today, it would be a scandal: at 24, he was already King, had recorded three albums, starred in his first films and was already filling stadiums where girls were screaming and fainting, and boys copied his steps; but she was only 14 years old. “My parents didn’t want me to date Elvis, they said I was too young, and it was true,” the great love and mother of the 20th century’s greatest cultural icon said in a statement. interview given to Magazine Ladies Home Journal in 1973, when they divorced.
Born at Brooklyn Naval Hospital in May 1944, his biological father had died in the war when he was only six months old; her mother –Ann Wagner– remarried a Canadian officer who gave her his surname –Beaulieu– and raised her as his own. She had settled with the whole family in a base in Wiesbaden, on the banks of the Rhine, in western Germany, when a friend of the star – who was doing his military service in this country – discovered her in a bar in the summer of 1959. and invited her to a party in Bad Nauheim; the crush was instantaneous.
Albert Goldman, one of the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s most obsessive biographers, says that when he first saw her on the night of September 13, 1959, Elvis forgot for the first time in decades. years who he was. He took off his crown and sequined costume and returned to Priscilla as an “awkward and embarrassed” boy. almost “a next door neighbor” who wanted to be looked at and make her fall in love.
So when two years later Elvis released the mega hit I can’t help falling in love, many thought it was for her, despite the fact that she had always been more of a performer than a writer. Like everything on it, it’s part of the legend, though it’s most likely just one of the songs from the Blue Hawaii movie soundtrack, and even the inspiration or his co-star, Joan Blackman, with whom he had a passionate romance and even, it is said, even proposed to marry him.
Her family imposed many conditions for the court, such as the presence of a chaperone and that she arrive a virgin at the wedding.
Meanwhile, a sweet 16-year-old Priscilla – as the Chuck Berry cover she revered so well with Jerry Lee Lewis in ’69 says – was suffering in Germany thinking it was all over. Elvis had returned to Memphis in March 1960 and although they continued to write and talk daily, rumors were growing about his alleged affair with Nancy Sinatra. The Joan Blackman case was the last straw.
Finally, in September 1962, the Beaulieu Wagners allowed their daughter to go to Los Angeles to find her love. But on certain conditions: Priscilla had to travel first class, be accompanied at all times by a chaperone and write home every day. Elvis agreed on everything. Of course, he changed plans as soon as he arrived: he took her to Las Vegas and set up his staff chaperone in Los Angeles; instead of flying with them, he should take care of sending postcards every day to deceive the parents of the bride. Priscilla would later confess that it was also the first time she had taken amphetamines and anxiolytics to be able to keep up with Presley.
Another image from the King’s wedding to Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas; They say when he met her he felt like an awkward boy again (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
She traveled again to spend Christmas with him at Graceland, and they decided that when she returned, in March, it would be forever. This time she arrived with her father, Captain Beaulieu, who arranged to enroll her in the Immaculate Conception Catholic School for Girls, where she would complete her secondary education. A new condition of her family that had to be strictly adhered to: even living in Graceland, Priscila had to be a virgin at marriage.
In reality, she was not allowed to live in the idol mansion, but with her father and stepmother, where, according to her own account in her memoir -Elvis and I- “I spent whole nights with them and Grandma, until I could move my things little by little to Graceland”, circa 1963.
Finally, this sacred temple which was so difficult for her to access, also became a place of confinement which left her outside the adventures of an idol who broke all known popularity records. It was convenient for her to stay in Memphis while he toured Hollywood and had affairs without hiding.
When he was filming Viva las Vegas in 1963, he had a public affair with his girlfriend, Ann-Margret. In her memoir, Priscilla says she confronted him and Elvis simply told her it was a promotional strategy., and that you didn’t have to believe everything you read in the media. But not only was the combination of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll not a press invention, it was unstoppable.
There are those who say even Priscilla didn’t mean it well. That by the time they married on May 1, 1967 at the old Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, even though she was 21, she was no longer naive. According to some versions, Priscilla and her father threatened Elvis to report him for having sexually abused a minor, and even for having moved her from the country for this purpose -something akin to trafficking-, even though they same always insisted on her virginity.
Again, versions of the singer’s own environment are found. Some, like his cook, say that before getting married they saw him sad and that he even assured that “he had no alternative”, others, like his friend Joe Esposito, that they had never seen him so happy in his life.. As an absolute fan, seeing their photo together that day, beaming, smiling, hand in hand, Elvis – still handsome – with the carnation in his lapel and his cheek against his Cilla’s – the way he loved it. call – it seems to me that there is no alternative but to believe. But what to say? I am one of those who also believe that Elvis is not dead, but was abducted by an alien ship.
Elvis’ only child, Lisa Marie, was born on February 2, 1968. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
He had knelt down on Christmas 1966, four years after Priscilla arrived at Graceland, to ask her if she wanted to marry him. “More than ever,” she said, and Elvis gave her one of the most spectacular engagement rings in living memory, designed by himself in a 3½-carat diamond, in turn surrounded with a crown of smaller diamonds.
The ceremony in Las Vegas, hosted by Elvis manager Tom Parker, took place at 9 a.m., and in front of barely a hundred guests, among whom there were hardly any celebrities apart from the press. It all lasted eight minutes. A breakfast of oysters, lobster, champagne and classic southern fried chicken was then served.
Elvis wore a discreet black brocade tuxedo, but he didn’t take off his Texas boots, more classic on him than chicken in Memphis. Priscilla had designed her dress herself: in silk muslin, with a closed collar, long sleeves and transparencies. She had a pompous veil and, of course, a crown: she was now the queen.
After the honeymoon in Palm Springs, they would also celebrate with a grand reception at Graceland, with no press and more excess. But on the May Day bash, the bride and groom opened the floor by dancing Love me Tender, a song that will forever be associated with their love, despite Elvis recording it long before he met Cilla, for his debut at the cinema in 1956.
Perhaps the tenderness of this song worked its magic so that exactly nine months after their wedding night, February 1, 1968, Lisa Marie, the King of Rock’s only daughter, came into the world. In exchange he sang for her and for Lisa when he recorded the most popular – and probably the saddest and most romantic – ballad of his entire career, on March 29, 1972, a month after his separation from Priscilla. You were always on my mind was the B-side hit of Separate Ways (dedicated to Lisa)and marked the end of their life together, but also left a testimony that would transcend it: despite the excesses and madness, Only with her was he happy.