Baz Luhrman‘s Elvis biopic is killing it at the box office. Austin Butler delivers a dazzling performance as the rock legend, and the film is full of visually stunning backdrops and incredible cinematography.
The release of the movie has spawned a new interest in Elvis Presley. Both lifelong fans and new generations are flocking to theaters, and Google is getting a lot of questions about the musician’s captivating life — particularly his love life. His former wife, Priscilla, has been quite candid about their marriage, even sharing details about his parenting style.
Elvis Presley started dating Priscilla when she was 14 years old
Elvis Presley and Priscilla’s relationship was controversial right from the start due to the fact that she was still a child when they met. The singer was 10 years older than her — he was 24 when they met, and Priscilla was only 14.
The couple met in Germany in 1959, when Presley was serving in the military. Priscilla’s parents were stationed there because her stepfather was in the U.S. Air Force. According to People, Priscilla said her parents were reluctant to allow her to date Presley at first, but they eventually relented.
“People have said, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe your parents let you go with this stranger’. But it was a very innocent time. I liked him very much. I certainly felt safe. … We cannot compare it to today. We still had morals, high standards. There was a lot of care.”
The two continued a long-distance relationship after Presley returned to the U.S. in 1960. The king of rock would call Priscilla every few weeks over the next two years until he flew her out to LA for a visit in 1962. After spending the summer with him, she returned to Germany for a few months. She then flew back to the states to spend Christmas with Presley.
Priscilla eventually moved to the U.S. She first lived with Presley’s parents so that she could finish high school, then moved into Graceland. The musician proposed with a 3.5-carat diamond ring shortly before Christmas in 1966.
Elvis was ‘frightened’ to hold his daughter after she was born
Although the couple was very much in love at the time, it seems that maybe the decision to marry wasn’t entirely their choice. TIME recalls that Elvis Presley’s manager, Tom Parker, believed that the singer was hurting his image by having a live-in girlfriend. Allegedly, Presley was found crying about the wedding, saying he didn’t have a choice.
Elvis and Priscilla were married on May 1, 1967. The Las Vegas ceremony was small and private and lasted only 8 minutes. After the ceremony, they had a champagne breakfast at the Aladdin Hotel with 100 guests. The happy couple was then whisked away in Frank Sinatra’s jet to Palm Springs for a long honeymoon. Sinatra and Presley had formed a close friendship over the years, and Sinatra lent him the jet for his wedding.
The couple gave birth to a daughter, Lisa Marie, on February 1, 1968. During a fashion video made for Vogue, Priscilla recently recalled how Presley reacted when his daughter was born. “He was so afraid to hold her… He was so frightened that he would drop her.”
In a 1985 Orlando Sentinel article, Priscilla described the incredible peace and joy she and Presley shared after Lisa Marie was born.
“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.”
The couple separated in 1972
Being married to a superstar like Elvis Presley can’t be easy, and the strain of his career and the throngs of women throwing themselves at him eventually impacted their marriage. According to a 1996 People article, Priscilla had started an affair with a karate instructor in the early 70s, after numerous allegations of affairs on Presley’s part.
In 1972, Priscilla told her husband she wanted to separate. She was still seeing Mike Stone, the karate teacher. Their divorce was finalized in 1973, and friends and family reported that Presley was heartbroken. However, the two remained good friends and put their efforts into co-parenting their young daughter.
Both Presley and Priscilla had great respect for one another, continuing to work together to give their daughter a happy life. They regularly spoke on the phone, visited each other, and worked through difficult times together. They had a stable friendship right up until Presley died in 1977.