The Truth About Elvis Presley's Relationship With Priscilla Presley

Long beloved as the "King of Rock 'n Roll," Elvis Presley is an indelible part of American music history. He came from modest means, born in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935, but went on to become the biggest rock star in the world at his peak (via Biography). He first found success through the song "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1955, an instant classic and No. 1 hit, before moving to the silver screen and solidifying himself as one of the premier acting draws of the day. In 1957, he received his draft notice from the U.S. Army, and the following year he found himself stationed in West Germany, serving his country dutifully.

Fortuitously, during his time in the army in West Germany, Elvis Presley met his future bride Priscilla Presley (née Beaulieu), whose family was also stationed there at a nearby Air Force base. They started dating and continued their relationship when he came back stateside, during which time he forwent his music career and focused solely on acting — releasing 21 films in the 1960s alone (via History). They had a daughter in 1968, Lisa Marie Presley, but their marriage was tumultuous, and by the 1970s, Elvis was out of shape and nursing a growing drug addiction to prescription medications. He passed away in 1977, at the frightfully young age of 42, while his former bride still lives on today. Here is the real truth about Elvis Presley's relationship with Priscilla Presley.

They started dating when Priscilla was just 14

Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu's relationship started in the Summer of 1959, in West Germany of all places. According to her autobiography, "Elvis and Me," Priscilla's father, Paul, was in the Air Force at the time and had just been transferred to West Germany. She was just 14, having recently won the title of Queen of Del Valley Junior High, and was nervous about moving to a new place. Luckily, Elvis was also stationed in West Germany, not far from the base that the Beaulieu family would be staying at in Bad Nauheim. He had joined the service in 1958, and during his time in Germany, he was part of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor (per the U.S. Army).

Priscilla was introduced to Elvis by Currie Grant, a member of the Air Force stationed at the same base as her family. She was incredibly nervous about meeting the star for the first time, and thought that because of her young age she would not "make any kind of impression on Elvis." She was dead wrong. Presley immediately took a liking to Priscilla, performing several songs for her on his piano and introducing her to his grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley. She did not return home until 2 in the morning, much to her parents' chagrin, and she was already starting to fall in love. When Elvis called Grant to arrange another meeting a few days later, Priscilla was "ecstatic" about seeing him again.

Their parents met after just their fourth date

The young couple's affinity for each other started to blossom quickly, as they connected deeply during their long conversations with each other on their dates. So quickly, in fact, that Priscilla Beaulieu's father Paul "laid down the law" and practically demanded to meet the young rockstar by the fourth date (via Priscilla's autobiography "Elvis and Me"). Elvis Presley was nervous at first, but agreed to the meeting, so long as he could bring his father Vernon Presley with him.

Priscilla described the younger Presley as "the perfect gentleman" and wrote that her father was "visibly impressed" with the famous suitor. Elvis and Capt. Beaulieu chatted about their time in the service while the singer looked at some of the family photographs on display. Things became a little awkward when Capt. Beaulieu asked "Just what is the intent here ...[with] my daughter?" Elvis replied that he was very fond of the captain's daughter, and he promised to "take good care of her."

One issue that had to be worked out between Elvis and Priscilla was transportation. Currie Grant had been driving Priscilla back and forth from Elvis' house, but Capt. Beaulieu insisted the star himself be the one to take his daughter home each night. He agreed, and from then on they saw each other constantly, with Elvis confiding deeply in his new young friend.

Elvis was sleeping with another woman when they started dating

Their relationship, notoriously turbulent, got off to a rocky start from the very beginning. According to biographer Peter Guralnick in "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley," When Elvis Presley was stationed in Germany, before he met Priscilla Beaulieu, he had started dating a 19-year-old German woman named Elisabeth Stefaniak. They had started around Thanksgiving time in 1958, just months after Elvis had gotten stationed in Germany, and she was living with him in his home on the base by Valentine's Day. She claims they refrained from having "full intercourse," due to Elvis' fear of pregnancy, but they slept together every night and "fooled around."

When Elvis started seeing Priscilla Beaulieu the following Summer in 1959, he was still sleeping with Stefaniak every night. She became "intensely jealous" of the blooming relationship, and especially of Priscilla. However, it was becoming clear to Stefaniak that Elvis was much more interested in his new friend than he was in her. He started devoting more and more of his intimate time with Priscilla, and left Stefaniak "dangling on a string." However, Elvis still harbored at least some feelings for the German woman, as evidenced by him angrily confronting a young man who had tried to dance with her at a party.

Elvis gave Priscilla drugs when she was still a teenager

As one might expect, adapting to the new lifestyle proved to be tough at times for Priscilla Beaulieu. The hustle-and-bustle of everyday life as an Air Force brat was certainly one thing, but dating one of the most famous musicians and movie stars in the world was quite another. During Christmas of 1962, 17-year-old Priscilla went to see Elvis Presley for a quick visit (via "Careless Love"). Since they had limited time together, they tried to cram in as many activities as possible, and all of the excitement started to wear her out. Elvis gave her "two big red pills to relax," and she ended up being knocked out for two days.

This was the second time that she had used drugs with Elvis. Earlier in the summer, Priscilla had taken a trip to Las Vegas with Elvis and his entourage. Between limousine rides and playing blackjack, Priscilla found herself overwhelmed by the excitement, and she began using "amphetamines and sleeping pills ... In order for me to keep up, they became essential" (via her autobiography "Elvis and Me"). Elvis himself had started abusing prescription medication during his time in the army, and by the time he was dating Priscilla, it had only gotten worse (via People).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Their relationship caused Priscilla to do poorly in school

When Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu started dating it was a whirlwind experience for the young woman. She was only 14 at the time and had just started going to high school when the relationship started. Not surprisingly, dating "the King of Rock 'n Roll" sometimes took a toll on her schoolwork. According to her autobiography, "Elvis and Me," when she first went back to school after a date with the star, she could not pay attention because "my thoughts were entirely on Elvis." Instead of paying attention and doing her schoolwork, she was imagining spending time with the young rockstar and trying to relive the memories from the previous night.

In 1963, after the Beaulieu family moved back stateside, she convinced her parents to let her move to Memphis, Tennessee to be closer to Elvis. However, she still had to keep going to school, which she tried to do while seeing Elvis nearly every night. During a 2022 interview, she described the challenges of trying to balance the two together. The couple would frequently stay out until the early hours of the morning, and she would barely have time for a few hours of sleep before going off to school. As a result, "I didn't do well with the grades," she said. Still, it was worth it for her if it meant she could spend her free time with Elvis.

Priscilla read about one of Elvis' affairs in the press

In the summer of 1963, Elvis Presley returned to Hollywood to start shooting the film "Viva Las Vegas," which would star Ann-Margret, a 22-year-old actress who was just starting to skyrocket to popularity (via Peter Guralnick in "Careless Love”). The two started to spend a considerable amount of time together, and when the press got wind they immediately dubbed the two a couple and published an article about their "romance." However, Elvis had started seeing Priscilla Beaulieu again earlier in the year on a trip to Las Vegas, and she was living in his parents' home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Priscilla was becoming worried about the increasing number of headlines about Elvis and Ann-Margret and wanted to visit him on set, but he kept making excuses for why she could not come and see him in person. Finally, she demanded to come and visit the set after months of excuses and suspicions. The visit initially started well, but on the last day of production, the press published a story titled "Elvis Wins Love of Ann-Margret," in which Ann-Margret claimed in an interview to be engaged to Elvis! She later claimed that the press had fabricated the entire interview, but the damage was already done.  Elvis managed to calm down Priscilla, who was understandably upset, by promising to never see the young actress again, but in reality, he continued to engage in secret communications with her for months.

They got engaged just before Christmas 1966

Elvis Presley and his entourage returned to Graceland in late November to settle down for the 1966 Christmas season. They arrived to a fully made-up nativity scene at the house, and all the residents came out to greet them in a very joyous affair (via "Careless Love"). Elvis ended up donating over $100,000 over the course of the year, highlighted by gifts to all of the Memphis charities during the holiday season. His friends noted that he seemed to be in great spirits at the time, and he started spending a lot of time in the barn with the horses on his ranch.

Both Priscilla Beaulieu and her father had been sending Elvis signals for months that they were expecting marriage to happen soon, and Elvis himself had been considering the possibility for a while. A few months earlier he had bought a set of engagement rings, but he had difficulty deciding when to actually pop the question, and he was nervous about the commitment it would involve. Finally, just days before Christmas, Elvis finally asked Priscilla to marry him. He got down on his knee and gave her "the most beautiful diamond ring I'd ever seen." They immediately told his father Vernon and grandmother Minnie Mae, but waited until they saw Capt. Beaulieu in person, because Elvis wanted to deliver the news to him face-to-face.

They married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas

On May 1, 1967, Priscilla Beaulieu finally became Priscilla Presley when she married her longtime boyfriend Elvis Presley. According to close friend Jerry Schilling in his biography "Me and a Guy Named Elvis: My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley," the singer's manager "Colonel" Tom Parker arranged the ceremony and made sure it was a very private affair. Even most of the members of the Memphis Mafia, Elvis' close-knit group of friends and followers, found themselves without invitations. They were married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the premier hotels on the strip at the time.

They entered the hotel through the back entrance to avoid attention, and they were married in the very early hours of the morning (via Vogue). He had two best men, friends Joe Esposito and Marty Lacker, while Priscilla Presley's maid of honor was her sister Michelle. Two MGM photographers were on hand to document the occasion,

Elvis wore a tuxedo made from black paisley silk brocade, and he accentuated the look with cowboy boots and a platinum, diamond, and sapphire watch. Priscilla's dress was bought off the rack at Neiman Marcus, and she had a 3-foot veil and an incredible rhinestone tiara.

They honeymooned in Palm Springs

After their May wedding in Las Vegas, the happy couple immediately embarked on what would be an extravagant honeymoon. In her autobiography, "Elvis and Me," Priscilla Presley recalled how Elvis was able to borrow the personal Learjet of famous musician Frank Sinatra, to fly them from Sin City to Palm Springs, California. They were immediately greeted by a throng of reporters, both at the airport and outside the house they were staying at. They had not slept in nearly two days by this point, but they were both elated with the joy of being newlyweds.

Finally, came the first night of their honeymoon, when they consummated the marriage for the first time. The couple "exploded in a frenzy of passion" on the king-size bed in their bedroom, the first time they had ever been that intimate. The honeymoon was special for both of them, and Priscilla Presley, still just 21 at the time, was finally feeling accepted by both her husband and the mainstream press.

They had a daughter together

Nine months to the day that they had their wedding, Elvis and Priscilla Presley welcomed their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, to the world. She was born on February 1, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, at her parents' home at the Graceland estate (via Biography). She lived there until she was four years old, at which point her parents got divorced and separated. However, Elvis and Priscilla Presley had joint custody of her, so she was still able to split her time between the two of them, at least for a few years.

Tragically, Lisa Marie Presley was only nine when her father died of apparent heart failure, and she grew up never really getting to know him. Yet, her and her father's lives share some similarities. Both of them had issues with addiction dating back to their younger years, with Lisa Marie Presley using drugs by the time she was just 17. On a happier note, she also had a successful music career like her father, though not nearly at the level. Currently, she is prominently involved in running her father's estate along with her mother.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Priscilla had an affair with her karate instructor

While casual fans of Elvis Presley might not know this, he was actually a dedicated practitioner of karate. After he married Priscilla Presley, the two of them started to do karate together (per Priscilla's autobiography "Elvis and Me"). At first, she just did it to spend time with her husband, but as she started to get more involved in the art of karate the more she fell in love with it. She also started taking Tae Kwon Do and became "as obsessive as Elvis in dedicating myself to this art." She even had to learn Korean to go along with her training, which she dutifully did.

However, while karate seemed to bring the couple together at first, by 1972 it was beginning to have the opposite effect. She started to take private lessons with expert trainer Mike Stone, whom both she and her husband had seen compete years prior. Eventually, the private lessons turned intimate, and she wrote "My relationship with Mike had now developed into an affair." She was torn by her intense love for her husband, and her feelings of neglect and loneliness that had started to develop over the past years. A short time later, Priscilla Presley left her husband for the final time, telling him she was "finding myself for the first time."

They divorced just six years after marrying

Though the couple entered into their marriage in May 1967 with the intention of staying together forever, by 1973 the relationship was in tatters. After her affair with Mike Stone and their subsequent breakup a few months later, Priscilla and Elvis Presley rarely saw each other. According to her autobiography, "Elvis and Me," they still chatted over the phone, but they knew the relationship was over. He had started dating a new woman, Linda Thompson, by the time the divorce proceedings began at the end of the year. He was incredibly emotional during the divorce hearing, and Priscilla Presley comforted her husband throughout the ordeal.

As noted by Biography, their marriage had been tumultuous for years, as issues relating to intimacy, infidelity, and loneliness began to overwhelm their marriage. The divorce was made final on October 9, 1973, but it was hardly the end of their relationship. The two agreed to split custody of their daughter Lisa Marie Presley, and Elvis agreed to give his ex-wife a $100,000 lump sum settlement, along with $1,500 in monthly support (via Peter Guralnick in "Careless Love").