Elvis Presley finally married long-term girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu 55 years ago on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Nine months to the day afterwards, The King’s only child Lisa Marie was born. Yet it wasn’t an easy ride early on in the marriage for the 21-year-old bride wed to the world’s biggest star, especially when it came to her husband’s night owl lifestyle.
Elvis would sleep all day and then live all night, with his Memphis Mafia inner circle basically at his beck and call. One of the King’s favourite things to do for dates was to take Priscilla out to the Memphis movie theatres, that he’d booked out in the middle of the night, to see the latest releases.
His ex-wife remembered during their courting phase: “We would leave [Graceland] right after the Johnny Carson monologue and we would head out for the theatre, sometimes coming home at three, four or five o’clock in the morning. At that time I was going to school by the way, so I would go to bed and then get up at 7.30 … I didn’t do well with the grades.”
Yet after being out all night, they’d get home and Elvis would devour books on all kinds of topics, especially religion and spirituality. The King would write notes in the margins and underline passages through until dawn. He’d also be reading to his wife whether she liked it or not upstairs at Graceland in their bedroom.
Speaking previously with The Guardian, Priscilla continued: “He would read [out loud to me] and I would be so tired … and he would say, ‘you aren’t listening to me’ and I would say [to myself], ‘OK, keep your eyes open’.”
As a result, there were so many books piled up high that she had to have their huge palatial bed, with dimensions of about 7 by 9, modified. The King’s wife commissioned a cabinet maker to build pull out bookcases underneath so the star wouldn’t injure himself in the dark. Even though this no doubt helped, to this day Lisa Marie says there are piles of books stacked up in the perfectly preserved bedroom.
Priscilla said of the early days after their wedding: “The beginning [of the marriage] was very difficult, but I knew what I was in for because I saw it at a very young age.”
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Priscilla added: “That’s when I started not reading papers anymore or [magazines] in the grocery stores. I found out how vicious people could be … there were rumours I was pregnant, and that’s why he got married and I’m going, ‘Oh my God, this is not gonna be good for me. So it was hard to get accepted. But he always told me, ‘Don’t pay attention … don’t even listen and don’t look at the tabloids. You know what the truth is so just be cautious, but be aware’.”
After six years, the marriage broke down and the couple divorced. However, they remained close with regular late-night phone calls even up to a few days before Elvis’ death of a heart attack at just 42 in 1977.