She is the ex-wife of singer and actor Elvis Presley, and the mother of singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley. Priscilla is the founder of Elvis Presley Enterprises, where she served as chairman of the board from 1982 to 1998.
As an actress, Priscilla is best known for co-starring with Leslie Nielsen in the three successful Naked Gun films, and for her five-year run playing the character Jenna Wade on the television series Dallas. In 2008, she was a contestant on the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Priscilla's grandfather, Albert Henry Iversen, emigrated from Egersund in Norway to the United States in the beginning of the 1900s. He married Lorraine Davis, who was of Scots-Irish and English descent. They had three children: Albert Jr. (March 1922), James Richard (March 1924) and Anna Lillian Iversen (March 1926). Later she was called, or her name was changed to, Ann. She was called Rooney (short for Annie Rooney) as a child. At the age of nineteen she became mother of Priscilla. Both Priscilla and her mother still have cousins in Norway. In a letter to the City Hall of Egersund, Ann asked for information about their relatives, and wrote that Priscilla was very interested in knowing about them. Priscilla's parents visited family members in Norway in 1992; Ann said their daughter was supposed to join them, but was busy at the time.
Priscilla has her "own place" in Egersund – Priscilla Presleys plass. When she was told about this tribute being planned, by a visiting Norwegian relative (summer 2007), and asked what she thought, she answered: "Oh, it's marvellous!". The area is outside the house, Kirkegaten 23, where her grandfather was born in 1896, and lived. Priscilla and her family were invited by the lord mayor of Egersund to the opening ceremony of Priscilla Presleys plass, which took place August 23, 2008, but were unable to go due to Lisa Marie Presley being pregnant.
Priscilla's biological father was US Navy pilot James Wagner. His parents were Kathryn and Harold Wagner. On 10 August 1944, at the age of 23, he married Priscilla's mother; they had been dating for more than three years. He was killed in a plane crash while returning home on leave when Priscilla was six months old. When Priscilla discovered this "..family secret..." whilst rummaging through an old wooden box of family keepsakes, she was encouraged by her mother to keep it from the other children as she feared it would "...endanger our family closeness...".
In 1948 her mother met a United States Air Force officer named Paul Beaulieu, from Quebec. The couple were married within a year. Beaulieu took over the raising of Priscilla and was the only father Priscilla would ever know. Over the next few years, Priscilla grew up quickly, helping to care for the growing family as her father's Air Force career moved them from Connecticut to New Mexico to Maine. In her own words, she described herself during this period as "...a shy, pretty little girl unhappily accustomed to moving from base to base every two or three years." Priscilla later recalled that she felt uncomfortable moving so often because she never knew if she could make friends for life, or even if she would fit in with the new people she met on each move.
In 1956, the Beaulieus moved to and settled in Austin, Texas, but soon her father was transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany. Priscilla was "..crushed.." by this news, and after finishing Junior High her fears of leaving her friends behind and making new ones were once again at the forefront of her mind.
Life in Germany
Initially the Beaulieus stayed at the Helene Hotel when they arrived in Germany, but after three months the cost of living there became too expensive and they looked for a place to rent. The family settled in a large apartment in a "..vintage building constructed long before World War I". However, soon after moving in the Beaulieus realised that it was a brothel, but due to scarce housing they were forced to remain there.
Feeling like an outsider once again due to her lack of understanding the German language, Priscilla frequented the Eagles Club; a place where American families would gather to eat dinner and be entertained. It was "...within walking distance..." of their apartment, and proved to be an important "discovery" for Priscilla. She would go there "..everyday after school.." and listen to the jukebox whilst writing letters back home to her friends in Austin.
It was here, at the Eagles Club, that Priscilla met Currie Grant, a young American Air Force recruit whose Commanding Officer knew Priscilla's father. Grant offered to introduce Priscilla to Elvis Presley, stating that he was "...good friends..." with the singer, and that he and his wife would visit quite often. Being cautious and skeptical of such a claim, Priscilla said she would have to ask her parents, and over the next two weeks Grant met with them and assured them that she would be well chaperoned.
Life with Elvis
Elvis and Priscilla met on September 13, 1959, at a party in Bad Nauheim, Germany during his stay in the army. Despite her only being 14 years old at the time, she made a huge impression on Elvis with her much older appearance. Elvis allegedly regressed to acting like an "awkward, embarrassed" boy next door figure in front of her. However, by the end of the evening he had managed to compose himself.
Despite Priscilla's parents being angered by her late return home during that first meeting and insisting that she would never meet Elvis again, his eagerness for another meeting, and the promise of her never being late again, led to the couple quickly beginning a romantic relationship. They were frequently together until Elvis left Germany in March 1960.
In her autobiography, Elvis and Me, Priscilla says that when they had sex, Elvis refused to have intercourse with her until they were married. However, biographer Suzanne Finstad writes that Priscilla and Elvis slept together on their second date, and that she was not a virgin when she met him. Priscilla later filed a lawsuit against Currie Grant for his claim in Finstad's book that he had sex with her in exchange for introducing her to Elvis, and won. However, neither Finstad nor her publisher was a party to the lawsuit.
In her book, Priscilla writes about how she was nearly raped by one of Elvis' friends during a ride back to her house. She says that Kurt (not his real name) was asked by Elvis to give her a lift home, but while she was "..dozing off.." he left the main highway onto a dirt road and attempted to kiss her and then threw her down onto the seat. After fighting him off and attempting to get help by hitting the horn and flashing the cars lights, she says that he must have feared being caught and decided to stop assaulting her. For days she didn't tell anyone, and only when Elvis sensed that she was upset during a visit a few days later, did she confide in him. Elvis was furious, but out of fear that Priscilla's parents wouldn't let them see each other again, they didn't tell anyone else.
Priscilla and Elvis stayed in contact over the phone, though they would not see each other again until the summer of 1962, when Priscilla's parents agreed to let her visit for two weeks. It was during this visit, whilst on a trip to Las Vegas, that Priscilla first took amphetamines and sleeping pills to keep up with Elvis. After another visit at Christmas, Priscilla's parents finally let her move to America for good. Part of the agreement was that she would attend an all-girls' Catholic school (Immaculate Conception High School), and live with Elvis' father and his stepmother in a separate house on the Graceland estate until she graduated high school. Priscilla's parents allowed her to live at Graceland only if Elvis promised to eventually marry her.
Shortly before Christmas 1966, Elvis proposed to Priscilla. According to author Albert Goldman this was the result of a phone call from Priscilla's father to remind Elvis in "no uncertain terms" that over four years had passed since his promise to marry, although this "rumour" has been strenuously denied by both Priscilla and her father since. Elvis was reluctant to marry for a number of reasons, primarily the fear that his career could be affected by it. Goldman also claims that Elvis would often state that he "wasn't made to be married".
After originally setting a date "over the holidays" Elvis pushed the wedding back a few months and they married on May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Their only child, Lisa Marie, was born on February 1, 1968.
For the first few years, they were very happily married. However, when Elvis' career took off again, he was constantly touring and playing in Las Vegas. Due to Elvis being away so often and his ever-growing drug dependence, their marriage soured. Some of his health problems troubled his doctors and so they went undiagnosed until long after his death.
Priscilla wrote in her 1985 biography, Elvis and Me, that around the time Elvis was filming Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) she began taking private dance lessons. She found herself deeply attracted to the instructor, known simply as Mark in the book, and she confesses to having a short affair. She implies regret, however, saying "I came out of it realizing I needed much more out of my relationship with Elvis."
Elvis was a keen karate student, and persuaded Priscilla to take it up. Priscilla thought it was a good idea as it would pass the lonesome time if she had a hobby to concentrate on and she was also keen to share in Elvis' interests. Following suggestions from Elvis, Priscilla began taking lessons from Mike Stone, a karate instructor she had met in 1972 backstage at one of Elvis' concerts. She soon began an affair with him, and her "...restlessness..." about it made Elvis suspicious. It was at this time, Priscilla claims in her book, that Elvis forced himself upon her in his hotel room and said: "This is how a real man makes love to a woman". It was following this experience, according to her autobiography, that she decided to leave Elvis. Once the news of her affair with Stone was confirmed to Elvis, he raged obsessively: "There's too much pain in me... Stone [must] die.
Separation and divorce
Elvis and Priscilla separated on February 23, 1972, after nearly thirteen years together, and filed for legal separation on July 26. To avoid Priscilla having to make her home address available on the public records and therefore risking the security of both her and Lisa Marie, Elvis filed for divorce on August 18 and it was finalized on October 9, 1973 after almost six and a half years of marriage. The couple agreed to share custody of their daughter, and Priscilla was awarded an outright cash payment of $725,000 as well as spousal support, child support, 5% of Elvis' new publishing companies, and half the income from the sale of their Beverly Hills home.
Elvis would later remark to Linda Thompson that he thought he could "mold" Priscilla into the woman he wanted her to be, but that he had realized too late that you "can't teach a person to be affectionate." He and Priscilla remained friends until Elvis died on August 16, 1977.
Priscilla purchased a large mansion in Beverly Hills. After splitting with Mike Stone in 1975, she dated lawyer Robert Kardashian in 1976.
In 1978, she began a relationship with male model Michael Edwards. She invited Edwards and his daughter Caroline to move into her mansion. They were together for six years before breaking up in 1984. In 1988 he wrote a book entitled Priscilla, Elvis, and Me, in which he says he was obsessed with Elvis and was sexually attracted to Priscilla's daughter, Lisa Marie. Edwards claims that Priscilla had a one-night-stand with actor Richard Gere in 1983 and that she also dated singer Julio Iglesias.
In late 1984, Priscilla began dating screenwriter Marco Garibaldi. They were together for nearly 22 years. The couple have a son, Navarone (born March 1, 1987). In 2005, Navarone was arrested for possession of magic mushrooms.
Priscilla and Garibaldi broke up in March 2006. At the beginning of their relationship, the couple signed a promissory agreement that if they should break up, he will not write a book about her.
In 2007, she was romantically linked with Nigel Lythgoe. However, in April 2008, Priscilla told Access Hollywood that she was not dating anyone.
Business in Graceland
Main article: Graceland
After the death of Elvis' father, Vernon, in 1979, Priscilla served as co-executor of Elvis' estate. Marty Lacker, a close friend of Elvis, says he was approached by Priscilla after the singer's death "to help talk Vernon into naming her [in his will]".
Graceland itself cost $500,000 a year in upkeep, and expenses had dwindled Lisa Marie's inheritance to $5 million. Priscilla examined other famous house-museums, and hired a CEO to turn Graceland into a moneymaker. She became the chairwoman and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises. It cost $536,000 to open Graceland, a massive gamble at the time and one which was certainly not guaranteed to pay off, but that money was earned back in the first 38 days that it was open to the public. After Graceland opened to the public in 1982, the enterprise's fortunes soared and eventually the trust grew to be worth over $100 million.
In addition, in 2000, Priscilla was elected to the board of directors of MGM, with the prime vote coming from Kirk Kerkorian, who dated Priscilla in the 1970s.
Priscilla had ambition to be an actress since she was a child, but did not pursue an acting career until after Elvis' death. Though she had once been considered as part of the original lineup for Charlie’s Angels, her acting career began modestly with a co-hosting job on the ABC series Those Amazing Animals from 1980 to 1981. Her first appearance was a guest spot on The Fall Guy in 1983. Her first film role was in the 1983 TV movie, Love is Forever, opposite Michael Landon. She later graduated to a recurring role as Jenna Wade, Bobby Ewing’s first love and mother of his son, Lucas, on Dallas from 1983 to 1988. She departed the series after disagreeing with the direction of her character and the series, settling into a regular rotation of guest star roles and appearances on Elvis-related documentaries and specials.
In 1988, Priscilla starred opposite Leslie Nielsen in the action comedy The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, which unexpectedly became a huge box-office hit. She returned to the role in the hit 1991 sequel The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, followed by Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, in 1994.
Priscilla's only other feature film has been the poorly received The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, in 1990. She hasn't acted in nearly a decade. Her most recent appearances have been on the television shows Melrose Place, in 1996, Touched by an Angel, in 1997, and in Spin City, in 1999.
Priscilla maintained a successful boutique from 1973 through 1976. Celebrity clients included Natalie Wood, Barbra Streisand, and Cher. She eventually signed with the William Morris Agency and landed a job as the national spokesperson for Wella Balsam’s line of hair products. Priscilla also launched her own fragrance, Moments, in 1988. Its popularity yielded a second brand, Experiences, in 1994, and Indian Summer followed in 1996.
Dancing with the Stars
Priscilla was a contestant on Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with Louis van Amstel.
She referred, on air, to Dancing with the Stars as "the hardest thing she's ever had to do." She scored 24 out of 30 on the foxtrot on March 18, 2008, the second-highest score of the evening. The following week she scored 21 for her first Latin dance, the mambo. The third week she danced the tango and was highly praised by the judges, coming second on the leaderboard with a score of 26. The fourth week she danced the waltz and scored only 22. The judges lowered her score due to a lift in the routine. In the results show the following night, Priscilla found herself in the bottom two, but just managed to stay in the competition. The fifth week, Priscilla danced the rumba and scored 21, leaving her at the bottom of the leaderboard. Priscilla found herself in the bottom two once again and this time she was voted off with the least amount of votes.