From Riley Keough to Lisa Marie, the Presley family are one of Hollywood’s most famous clans. It all started with Elvis Presley’s marriage to Priscilla in 1967. However, unbeknownst to many, their ceremony was attended by a member of another well-known family. Indeed, her presence may come as something as a shock even to the King’s biggest fans.
Famed for popularizing rock ’n’ roll, Elvis Presley is undoubtedly an icon of modern music. However, his career hit a huge snag in 1957 – just two years after his first number one single. Yes, at the height of his fame, the star was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Upon hearing the news, Presley’s dismayed fans flooded army offices with letters begging for the singer’s release. In fact, the furor over his draft would even inspire the stage musical Bye Bye Birdie. Though many were heartbroken, there was at least one fan who would benefit from the news – even if she didn’t know it yet.
Like her future husband, Priscilla Beaulieu had been dragged away from the United States on a military contract. While her stepfather served on a U.S. Air Force base in Wiesbaden, West Germany, the then-14-year-old Priscilla spent her time in local restaurants. And it was in one such establishment that she caught a certain G.I.’s attention.
To her surprise, the soldier was a friend of Presley – who was stationed at a nearby base – and asked her if she’d like to meet the star. Nevertheless, the young fan was far from overwhelmed by his offer. “I said, ‘Fine,’ thinking it was all a joke,” she admitted to Ladies’ Home Journal in 1973.
Yet despite her reservations, Priscilla agreed to a rendezvous at the singer’s home. What’s more, she just couldn’t believe her eyes when the icon first greeted her. “Elvis was sitting in a chair when I arrived and he got up and shook my hand. Then reality hit me, and I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’” she admitted.
The two quickly formed a connection and began courting soon afterwards. However, Priscilla’s young age was a problem and her parents took weeks to come round to the idea of them dating. “I was really mature for my age and honestly, when we first met, I think Elvis was just comfortable talking to me,” she explained to The Telegraph in 2016.
Following Presley’s final day of service, the star moved back to the United States. However, he missed Priscilla terribly, which led the King to invite her to spend Christmas in Memphis. Within no time, her visit turned into a permanent move and Priscilla soon found herself living in Graceland.
While many couples of the era rushed into matrimony, Elvis and Priscilla took their time planning for the future. “Elvis and I had been talking about [marriage] in stages,” Priscilla later told Ladies’ Home Journal. Indeed, even when it came time to pop the question, the singer did little to mark the occasion. “One day he showed me the ring and simply asked me to marry him,” she explained.
So, it was on May 1, 1967 – just weeks before Priscilla’s 22nd birthday – that the pair were to be betrothed. Two chartered planes – one on loan from Frank Sinatra – helped ferry the couple’s guests from Palm Strings to Las Vegas. Upon landing, they were quickly whisked to the city’s Aladdin Hotel for the ceremony.
All in all, the service was small, discreet and designed to deflect attention from the famous couple. In Elvis’ company were his road manager Joe Esposito and good friend Marty Lacker, who both served as best man. Meanwhile, Priscilla’s sister Michelle acted as maid of honor, and her parents were flown in especially for the occasion.
Besides her family, Priscilla also had a few friends in attendance. In particular, her pal Joan was there to act as her matron of honor and to offer support in any way she could. Speaking to Inside Edition 50 years later, Joan remembered being amazed at how low-key the event was.
“Everyone was so nervous because there was so much secrecy,” she admitted. In addition, Joan revealed just how toned-down the proceedings were. “The dress she chose was a very, very simple beaded dress,” she said. “It was long sleeved and high neck.”
While there’s nothing too unusual with a bride inviting her friend to her wedding, Joan’s appearance has become newsworthy in recent times. In fact, her husband Tom was the late Robert Kardashian’s brother. Moreover, while some may know Robert as OJ Simpson’s lawyer, most will recognize him as the father of Kourtney, Khloe and Kim.
As the aunt of this generation’s most famous socialites, Joan Kardashian has certainly stolen some of Elvis and Priscilla’s thunder in recent times. Moreover, the wedding wasn’t the two families’ only encounter. In fact, their histories have become intertwined for several other intriguing reasons.
After five years of marriage, Priscilla and Elvis separated. What’s more, it fell to Joan to help her friend move on. According to Ian Halperin’s 2016 book Kardashian Dynasty, Robert Kardashian was introduced to Priscilla by his brother, Tom. The two reportedly began dating, although Robert eventually got back together with his ex-girlfriend Kris Jenner.
Elvis himself would also become connected to the Kardashian clan. Indeed, the King subsequently began a four-year relationship with Miss Tennessee, Linda Thompson. After they broke up, the model married Bruce Jenner, who would later go on to have daughters Kendall and Kylie with Kris Jenner.
While Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage ended in divorce, it would at least leave a family legacy to rival that of the Kardashians. During their relationship, the Presleys welcomed a daughter, Lisa Marie, into the world in 1968. A successful singer in her own right, Lisa Marie would also go on to have a famous daughter – the actress Riley Keough, who was born in 1989.
Despite their separation, Priscilla and Elvis remained on cordial terms throughout the latter’s final years. Moreover, following the music icon’s 1977 death, it fell on Priscilla to preserve her ex-husband’s memory. His Graceland estate is now one of America’s top tourist sites and has been visited by more than 20 million fans since its 1982 opening.
While they may not have the social media footprint of the Kardashians, the Presleys are without doubt one of America’s premier entertainment families. However, it’s still surprising to learn that these two prestigious names have enjoyed such intimate ties in the past, and who knows what the future has in store? Perhaps they’ll cross paths at another wedding in the years to come.