Priscilla Presley was so more than just the beauty queen who married the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Having grown up as an army kid, she lived a very interesting and colorful life. As Priscilla continued to capture the interest of the world, she became of the most fascinating female icons of the 20th century.
Priscilla was always impressing us with her glamorous hair, makeup and clothing choices. This young girl grew up in the spotlight of her extremely famous husband. As a result, she became an icon on her own terms. Throughout the decades we’ll watch her transition into one of the most-watched style icons of the century.
Whos That Girl?
Priscilla Ann Wagner was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945. Her birth father was a pilot for the US Navy was killed in a plane crash just six months after she was born. Her mother Anne married Paul Beaulieu in 1948.
Her stepfather raised her as his own since she never knew her real father. She was known as Priscilla Beaulieu. Priscilla moved around several times throughout her childhood having lived in Connecticut, Maine, Texas, New Mexico, and eventually, moved to Germany in 1959.
As a young girl, her sense of style was simple. The night she met Elvis in 1959, he was already a star. Priscilla was wearing a navy-and-white sailor dress when traveled to Elvis’ temporary home in Bad Nauheim.
Upon meeting, she immediately captured the star’s attention, even when she admitted she was a ninth-grader. He played several songs to impress her and after she left that night she had the impression she would never see the superstar him again.
The ninth-grader Priscilla Presley met Elvis in 1959, at the age of 14. At that time Elvis was 24 years old and serving in the US armed forces in West Germany. At the time, Priscilla was stationed at an airforce base with her mom and her stepfather.
In 1963 she moved from her family to be with him in Graceland. She finished up her high school education while in Memphis at an all-girls Catholic school. The public did not approve of this relationship. However, they did not care.
So why did a 24-year-old man desire a 14-year-old girl? Flattered by the opportunity, the parents allowed the young girl to continue contact with Elvis. Although Pricilla was very mature for her age, Elvis did have his intentions.
Priscilla was young enough to be molded into the wife he always desired and he knew she would be willing do whatever it takes to be with him. After arriving to Graceland the singer had Priscilla’s hair and makeup adjusted to suit his preferences, telling her, “I like a lot of makeup.” She later described herself as “Elvis’ living doll, to fashion as he pleased.”
The One for Him
Before Christmas in 1966, Elvis, on bended knee in the bedroom, proposed with a three-and-a-half-carat diamond ring, with 20 surrounding diamonds, from Memphis jeweler Harry Levitch.
Their age difference wasn’t a problem for Elvis who thought he could mold Pricilla into his ideal woman. Elvis and Priscilla married after a 7-years together the star felt the pressure to marry Priscilla and do so on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.
Iconic Wedding Style
Despite reports that Priscilla designed her own dress, she found what she was looking for at a store. “I went to places like Neiman Marcus in disguise,” Priscilla later said. “I went with a [blonde] wig and everything just to keep it private!” Using the name Mrs. Hodge, Priscilla finally found her dream dress in Westwood, California.
Priscilla made her fashionable impressing wearing a timely silk chiffon gown with long lace sleeves and pearl embellishments and a beaded neckline. Her hair was dyed jet black and worn high and her eyeliner on-point. Presley’s dress is one of the most famous wedding dresses in history. “It wasn’t extravagant, it wasn’t extreme—it was simple and to me beautiful,” she said.
The Perfect Looking Couple
Elvis transitioned Pricilla into the woman he wanted to show off to the world. He had porcelain caps placed on her teeth and demanded she improve her posture. She said, “He did want me to dye my hair black when I was young so we could lookalike a little bit.”
Priscilla revealed Elvis persuaded her to dye her locks to a raven black to match his died black hair. He requested she wears an updo that matched his pompadour and her clothes needed to be in similar colors to his when they made a public appearance.
A Signature Style
Priscilla made her mark on the ’60s fashion scene, thanks in part to her glamorous, teased hair and bold wardrobe choices. She reigned over the rock ‘n roll scene, often spotted at Graceland with her signature beehive hairstyle, dramatic ensembles, and striking eye makeup.
This signature look the world began to know as Priscilla’s was loved and recreated by many. Even today it is recreated in Halloween costumes all over the world or worn by celebrities such as Lilly Collin and Lana Del Rey to make a fashion statement.
The Best Gift Ever
Elvis once gave her a brand new 1964 Chevrolet Corvair when she was just 17 years old.“Elvis gifted it to me as a [high school] graduation present in 1963. I loved it! Can you imagine? It was my very first car and the fact that he gave it to me made it very special,” Priscilla shared in an interview.
“It was such a beautiful car… Cars were larger in those days so this was the perfect car for me,” she continued. “It was sporty in look and feel. There weren’t many around.” “I remember taking Elvis for a drive in it but only around the circular driveway at Graceland. He didn’t want to be seen with a girl driving him around!” she says.
Always Dressed to Impress
With her black beehive, thick lashes and winged eyeliner, Priscilla was an instant style icon. Priscilla went on to define this new look for the decade. Priscilla shared in an interview, “I was someone he created when we met. ‘I was just a kid, and I was consumed by him. I could never speak my mind; all I desired was not to disappoint him.”
In another recent interview, Priscilla admitted Elvis never saw her without makeup when they were married.”I always had a little bit of makeup [on while around him]. He never wanted to see me getting dressed, he wanted to see the end result,” she said.
“We literally lived in a bubble,” Priscilla once said of her six-year marriage to Elvis.”I just kind of followed what he did. I mean, you lived his life. You honestly didn’t have your own life… So you really kind of lost yourself,” she said.
Although she says Elvis was the love of her life, for her, it became hard at times living “his life.” She would have to see the movies he wanted to see, listen to the songs he wanted to hear, and go to places he wanted to visit.
Priscilla was Growing Up
The couple separated on February 23, 1972, filing for legal separation on July 26th. She explained how while living life with the singer was fun and exciting, it was a life she couldn’t get used to.
The famous couple called it quits in 1973, but never shut the door on their friendship. “They were growing apart. She had immense love for Elvis, but things were changing. He knew Priscilla had to spread her wings. They remained friends for the rest of his life,” a source revealed.
Wanting a Change
At the age of 27, after six years of marriage, Priscilla decided to separate from Elvis. He was unfaithful to her and she couldn’t stand it. Elvis was all she knew, she needed to find out what the world was like on her own.
This photo is significant of her transitioning into her own style. She started ditching the heavy eye make-up Elvis wanted her to wear. Instead, she wore a more natural hair color than his preferred jet-black.
Going along with how Elvis wanted to shape her was at first acceptable to Priscilla. But as she grew older she began to seek more control over her own life, which was something their relationship couldn’t survive.
Priscilla has said Elvis was the love of her life and the pair remained close. She said in an interview she had to move on because “My problems were secondary.” Unfulfilled in her relationship, she had an affair with her karate instructor, Mike Stone. In 1972, she told Elvis she was leaving him. She divorced Elvis in 1973.
Priscilla would later say, “I did not divorce him because I didn’t love him. He was the love of my life, but I had to find out about the world.” They shared custody of Lisa Marie and regularly saw each other.
Priscilla dated Hawaiian Karate instructor Mike Stone after their split.
she says in an interview, “I kept busy. I began studying karate. I won my green belt and was ready to test for my brown belt when I decided to drop out. I felt karate wasn’t very feminine. So I decided to go back to ballet.”
“He’s (Mike Stone) very much of a man to me and treats me like a woman. I would never go with a guy who wasn’t a boss. I mean the man would definitely have to be the more dominant person, she told Ladies Home Journal in 1973. She admitted that her life with Mike was much freer.
“His schedule is flexible, so we can do things together. We both enjoy riding, and have horses, which we keep at the stables in Huntington Beach.”She also admitted, “I think that there can be a very good relationship between two people that marriage can ruin.”
When they were married, Elvis did not encourage Priscilla to work. One of the most positive things about the breakup is Priscilla’s new career. The fashion icon opened a high-end clothing boutique called Bis & Beau Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles.
She named the boutique for her personal designer when she was with Elvis in additional to her maiden name. The two ladies worked together doing the designing for the shop. All clothing was original and handmade.
This Beverly Hills store was launched in 1973 by Priscilla Presley and her business partner Olivia Bis. This high-end boutique catered to stars and sold beautiful flowy feminine dresses & clothing. Celebrity clients included Barbara Streisand, Natalie Wood, and Cher.
Priscilla loved having the creative freedom to design and model the clothing from her store. This was her first introduction to modeling. which would later become a big part of her life for the next couple of decades. Unfortunately, her clothing store closed in 1976.
Although Priscilla was raising her daughter on her own. Elvis was far from an absent parent. She says of her Ex, “He adored having a child. He adored Lisa. He just loved watching her grow up” Presley said.”He (Elvis) was a very caring father.”
Regarding Lisa’s interpretation of the split, “She thinks daddy is on a business trip so it works out. And Elvis is no absentee father,” Priscilla stresses. “When he’s on tour, he often calls her, and when he’s in town, he sees her a lot.” But he was a father who spent long weeks away on the road, and eventually, the family grew apart. She said even after they split, however, they remained “exceptionally close.”
Priscilla was finally comfortable with herself in her own skin. She was able to be who she wanted to be. Gone was the trademark beehive as she experimented with new looks, first dying her hair red, then eventually blonde.
She was a glamour goddess and loved dressing up. She really embraced the 1970s and loved the fashion trends of the time. She had more self-confidence than ever at this time.
Dating a Kardashian
After splitting with Mike Stone in 1975, she dated lawyer Robert Kardashian in 1976. When Robert and Priscilla met, he had split from Kris and she had been newly divorced from Elvis, with a 7-year-old daughter. Robert and Priscilla really liked each other. They dated for about a year and then split.
Priscilla was drawn to Robert’s “magnetic personality.” He was funny, nice, and charming, but they weren’t meant to be together: Elvis got in the way. Elvis was tried to prevent Priscilla from seeing anyone after they divorced, arguing it was for the good of their daughter. Priscilla later ended their relationship, explaining, “I’m not going to marry anyone until Elvis dies.”
Looking To the Future
Recalling her days with Elvis, “He had definite likes and dislikes, there’s no doubt about that,” says Priscilla, and he was very much a man. As much as he was hip and stylish and gorgeous and charismatic, he was also a little old-fashioned and put his likes and dislikes onto his women. I couldn’t wear trousers for ages,” she said.
I had to wear solids. I still do actually. ‘If I’d been a bigger woman, it would have been different, but I was small, so that was OK. He loved me to dye my hair black and wear make-up but not so much jewelry, and it’s amazing how much he knew about style.” But now she had her own.
Despite the dissolution of their marriage, Elvis and Priscilla remained close friends until his death in 1977. Priscilla said in an interview, that day “was the eeriest I had ever experienced… It’s like the world stood still,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe my ears. Not him.”
Priscilla was devastated. She wrote in her memoir, Elvis and Me “I wanted to die.” Elvis was the love of her life despite them two going separate ways. After all, she had known him all her life since she was in the ninth grade.
Learning To Be Independent
“He (Elvis) was an avid reader but he taught me the difference between common sense and intellect and a lot about social graces. But we lived in a bubble. His friends were my friends.
“It wasn’t until after we divorced that I could find out who I was. I’d take a dislike to something and not know why then I’d realize it wasn’t my dislike, it was his. It was difficult to become my own person – I had to separate myself from Elvis’ concerns and considerations.”
A New Love
In 1978, she began a relationship with model and actor Michael Edwards.
They met each other for the first time at a party in her Beverly Hills home. She invited Edwards and his daughter Caroline to move into her mansion.
Since that moment, they were literally inseparable and tried to spend as much time together as possible. They were together for six years before breaking up in 1984. After they broke up, he wrote a book entitled Priscilla, Elvis and Me.
Priscilla was signed on as a million dollar a year national spokesperson for the professional haircare company Wella from 1979-1980. She starred in commercials and ads for the Wella-Balsam shampoo line.
Her face was everywhere for all to see. And she had transitioned to a more natural look. Presley said in an interview, “I can honestly say that I think blondes have more fun. It’s fun to change your hair color; your personality changes right along with it.”
Coping with Her Loss
Following the death of Elvis, a depressed and solemn Priscilla joined the church of Scientology. She thought it would be a good group to help guide her and the young Lisa Marie. After growing up Catholic, she had decided this wasn’t for her.
Later on, Priscilla sent Lisa Marie to the organization’s Celebrity Center rehab facility as well as the Apple School, a Scientology-based educational environment that allowed students to proceed at their own rate. However, Lisa Marie refused to cooperate.
After the death of Elvis’ father, Vernon, in 1979 who was managing his finances; Priscilla served as co-executor of Elvis’ estate. Priscilla examined other famous house-museums and hired a CEO to turn Graceland into a moneymaker.
The property opened to public tours in June of 1982 under the business entity, Elvis Presley Enterprises. The enterprise’s fortunes soared and eventually, the trust grew to be worth over $100 million. The property was converted into a museum in 1987.
A Budding Actress
Priscilla had the ambition to be an actress since she was a child but did not pursue an acting career until after Elvis’ death. Now she was ready to live out her dream.
She had once been considered as part of the original lineup for Charlie’s Angels. Still, 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, also known as Comeback starring Michael Landon. Michael Landon is the movie’s star, but Presley stole some scenes when she went underwater with real sharks, while Landon used a double.
In an interview from 1982, the 37-year-old shared her new experience with People Magazine. “I’m willing to challenge the world now, this movie has given me such experience,” she says, and she’s convinced, after years of hesitation, that acting is the road for her to take. In the movie plays a scuba diver—although the role is not major, professionals on the set applauded her skill.
Landing a Serious Gig
After the television film Love is Forever aired, Priscilla landed the role of Jenna Wade on the popular television soap Dallas in 1983. This was a role that was previously played by Morgan Fairchild and Francine Tacker.
When the character was brought back to the show, Priscilla was delighted to take on such a long term role. This was finally her chance to shine and become the actress that she had always dreamed of becoming.
Life on Dallas
On the show, her character Jenna Wade was the childhood love of Bobby Ewing. They fell in love and almost married. However, she then ran off with Renaldo Marchetta in Italy and returned with daughter Charlie, years later.
She arrived in Dallas just as Bobby and Pam’s marriage was falling apart. Soon Jenna and Bobby were dating and the drama goes on, we won’t spoil it for you. Here Priscilla is pictured with her character’s daughter on the series.
Loving What She Does
Priscilla’s days on the soap opera Dallas were great years for her. She loved working with Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and all of the cast really. She learned a lot too. Those were magical years for television and Dallas was a very special time for her.
The series ran form 1978-1991. Priscilla starred on the series form 1983-1988. However, she departed the series after disagreeing with the direction of her characters. She then regularly appeared in guest star roles and featured on Elvis-related documentaries and specials.
Another Long Term Love
In late 1984, Priscilla began dating Brazilian writer-director, Marco Garibaldi. They met through mutual friends in 1983. She lived with Marco for 22 years and had a son together named Navarone Garibaldi in 1987.
She had been living with Marco for two years before she had become pregnant in 1986. Her pregnancy was written into the show for her Dallas character. Ironically, just like her character Jenna, Priscilla was pregnant and unwedded. Their son Navarone Garibaldi was born in 1987.
Priscilla also launched her own fragrance called Moments, in 1988. Its popularity yielded a second brand, Experiences, in 1994, and Indian Summer followed in 1996.
She had also transformed the Presley estate into an incredibly successful organization. This included the famous Graceland Mansion, a worldwide licensing program, merchandising, music publishing and television and video projects.
This beauty also heads three charities. These include Emergency Wild Horse Rescue; helping save 41 wild Nevada mustang horses from slaughter. Dark Horse Rescue is another charity another animal rescue site.
Her third charity is called Hayden’s Law. The Hayden law is one of the most significant laws protecting shelter animals in California, but the Governor is planning to repeal it. If this happens it will be devastating. Priscilla is standing up for what she believes in and we respect that!
While married to Elvis, a career for Priscilla was out of the question. However, after their divorce she embarked on a successful move into acting, starring in the wickedly funny Naked Gun movies with Leslie Nielsen.
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.
Leaving an Impression
As for The Naked Gun — the trilogy released installments in 1988, 1991 and 1994. Priscilla won over audiences as Jane Spencer, the love interest and eventual wife of our hilarious hero detective Frank Drebin.
The Naked Gun series surprised everyone; not just Hollywood executives, but her and Leslie, who she adored. A Priscilla source said, “That was an amazing ride, and to this day people still stop her in the streets to ask about the films.”
Although she lived a very sheltered life with Elvis. She was frequently involved with his circle of friends. Elvis didn’t like to go out much and kept his circle small. She did, however, connect with a few famous friends after his death.
Here she is with musician Kenny Rogers in at the CMA Awards in 1979. She became close with Barabara Streisand Cher through her clothing shop, and Tom Jones is also a very close friend as was his late wife. A source reveals playfully, “Tom does gets naughty sometimes and jokes about romancing Priscilla, but she couldn’t.”
Elvis’s Family Legacy
Just as Priscilla was still in touch with Elvis’ circle of friends, she also had a few more constant reminders of the icon that she could never let go. She had come a long way since splitting with Elvis, but his legacy lived on through their daughter, Lisa Marie.
Lisa Marie had clearly inherited her father’s musical genes and has carved a successful musical career of her own. She also lived a colorful life and now had a family of her own too. Elvis’s memory continues to live on through the next generation.
The Legacy of Graceland
Priscilla also had many fond memories of her time spent with Elvis in Graceland. After she became the chairwoman and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises, she was constantly reminded of the icon. She had also helped transform it into the second most visited house after the White House.
Priscilla continued to be very much involved with the management of the franchise. The Graceland grounds now include exhibits, museums and is another big reminder of Elvis’s legacy. Incidentally, it has now reached a quasi-religious status and attracts over 650,00 visitors per year.
It’s well documented that Elvis had a big love for horses. His former teacher even said that this was sparked “after he saw Priscilla ride” horses. He then bought a golden Palomino and his love for horses developed from there. They even built a stable within the grounds of the Graceland estate.
Just like Elvis, Priscilla was very fond of the horses. She named the stables in Elvis’s honor and continued to ride the horses after he passed. She then opened the stables to the world in 2009, so visitors can share their equestrian love.
Priscilla’s Entrepreneurial Spirit
Priscilla has shown time and time again that she has a daring, entrepreneurial spirit, and is a woman of many talents. Since she had already become an influential and iconic style icon, the next natural step was to capture her essence and bottle it into a line of charming fragrances.
Priscilla has taken a few bold career decisions and risky style choices in her time. So she marketed one of her fragrances with the tagline, “Dare to be ambitious, Dare to believe in yourself”. And her ambitious nature is showing no signs of slowing down even to this day.
Learning From Experience
When marketing the fragrance Priscilla also said: “If I wrong, I get to experience.” This seems to be her motto, as she has learned something from every venture. This includes when she ventured into the world of fashion in the 1970s with the “Bis & Beau” Boutique Shop in Beverly Hills.
While the boutique was short-lived, it was still a great opportunity for her to learn from her experience. She also posed for many iconic fashion shoots, wearing the signature clothes from the boutique. This also worked wonders for her modeling career.
Ahead of The Curve
In the 1980s, Priscilla proved once again she was a style icon and ahead of the times. She departed from her 1970s style ensembles, long feathered hair and boho look. She unveiled a new ’80s style, which was both ahead of the trends, and helped influence the world of fashion.
In the 1980s, Priscilla was making her mark in the world of acting in the long-standing show Dallas, as Jenna Wade. So, she unveiled her cowboy-style denim jeans, a silk blouse, and short-feathered hairdo. She was just as popular for her acting as her fashion choices.
A Style Chameleon
In the late 1980s, the style chameleon updated her style once again. At that time Priscilla was still focusing on her burgeoning acting career and had landed her role in The Naked Gun franchise. So she said farewell to her signature cowgirl look.
She played the role of Jane Spencer, the love interest of Detective Frank Drebin, and the role required a more sophisticated persona. So Priscilla revamped her look and debuted a sleeker, shorter hairdo. She complimented her new chic persona with a sleek power-suit.
Throughout the years, Priscilla has had her finger on the pulse of the latest fashion trends. She has also continued to change her hairstyles as much as her ever-evolving fashion looks. So, with time she had become an influential icon in other areas, like hairstyles.
In 1979, Priscilla had been selected as the spokesperson for Wella Shampoo commercials. While this helped plunge her luxurious locks into the spotlight, the world continues to follow her ever-changing hairstyle trends to this day.
A Power Couple
During the 1980s, Priscilla captured the heart of Mike Edwards. He was a major model at the time and their relationship lasted seven years. Together, they made a stylish power couple, and could often be spotted venturing out on the scene, and hanging out on the celebrity circuit.
Priscilla looks relaxed with Mike here as they attended a movie premiere in Los Angeles. Her happy and relaxed demeanor is complimented by her style too. She looks radiant in her casual-chic and pretty colorful yellow outfit.
Over time, Priscilla had begun to shake off her reputation as just the young girl that stole Elvis’s heart. She had developed her own signature style, and become an icon on her own terms. She still continues to constantly keep the world on its toes with her ever-changing looks.
Priscilla has also successfully ventured into many areas, from modeling and fashion to the world of business. She’s still constantly reminded of her time with Elvis, but has a zest for life and is still full of ambition. So, this was just the start for this ambitious icon.