RIVERSIDE, CA. Ann-Margret may have been Elvis Presley’s feminine equal and the chemistry between them is palpable on screen in Viva Las Vegas, but I don’t think he ever truly loved her like a lot of people believe he did. To be sure, they probably had a steamy, sexual soiree, however, other than just a strong, mutual infatuation, Ann-Margret was not his one true love. That affectionate title would be privileged to only one woman: Priscilla Beaulieu. Ms. Beaulieu would be the only one to have his heart, forever.
But now after loving you, what else is there to do
For honey, all the rest is just gonna have to be second best
I know I’ll go through life comparing her to you
That’s ’cause I’m no good, I’m no good to anyone after loving you
Recorded: 1969/02/18, first released on “From Elvis in Memphis” (Words & Music: E. Miller/J. Lantz)
The tale of their love affair is as old as time. She, the beautiful, young girl of 14 smitten by a devilish handsome man who was the most controversial and famous entertainer in the world. It was an unlikely relationship that perhaps should never have come to be, but seemed meant to be. Their story is very much a modern day American fairy tale about a boy who would become king and the commoner he would fall in love with and marry, only they didn’t live happily every after. Nevertheless, their love for each other never diminished and is still real to this day.
That is very fortunate for all Elvis fans.
Among the Elvis fan base Mrs. Presley is loved and sadly, she is also hated. She is vilified as an exploitative, greedy, ex-wife feeding off the name of her dead husband. Those who love her, or rather admire her like me, appreciate her accomplishments which have ensured the legacy, music, and memory of Elvis continues today and into the future.
The vilification is unjustified, childish, ignorant, and probably rooted in a twisted jealousy only a qualified psychologist can understand. It baffles me because all the evidence is contradictory to the accusations. Mrs. Presley has done everything to ensure Elvis’ fans would remain a part of his legacy because we are the most important people in the world who are going to keep his memory alive, but we don’t have the resources to do it the right way. Someone needed to take control. Mrs. Presley had to be the one to take control of the rights to his name, her name and Lisa Marie’s name, and protect his name from those who would exploit it for financial gain without any thought about Elvis’ legacy or his fans, both old and new, and those yet to be born. As a fan, this is what I want Mrs. Presley and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) to do for me. Otherwise, his legacy could have very well been the bloated, drug addicted caricature who died on a toilet and not the sexy, historical, music entertainer and innovator he is known as today.
Frankly, she deserves the success extended to her by Elvis. It wasn’t easy being the wife of the greatest entertainer in the world which Mrs. Presley detailed in her book, Elvis and Me. He had personal issues which affected their marriage and pushed her away. Elvis was temperamental; at times he acted spoiled and was used to getting his way; he was an absent father because fans demanded his attention and an entourage who depended on him for their income, and he was an adulterer. According to Mrs. Presley’s autobiography, Elvis and Me, she wrote “I had trouble believing Elvis was always faithful, and the more he kept us apart, the more my suspicions grew (p.280).” A woman knows when her man is a lying, cheating bastard. Of course, we know this is true.
However, marriage is an intimate affair and the reasons it fails are truly known only by the husband and wife. The rest is just speculation and tabloid fodder fueled by inaccurate preconceived reasons their marriage failed. Regardless, their love for each other never diminished and Mrs. Presley is not embittered by the failure of their marriage. Perhaps, she is still wounded by it, but we’ll never know and, like us, has forgiven him all his flaws and perhaps simply appreciates his humanity. The pictures on the day they walked out of divorce court, arm-in-arm, speaks for itself.
…the love Elvis and I shared was a deep and abiding one. He was, and remains, the greatest influence in my life (p 318).
If anything, we the fans should look in the mirror before pointing a finger at Mrs. Presley and accusing her of greedily making money off of him. While I believe Priscilla was Elvis’ one true love she tells us differently and writes in her book the “audience was his true love (p. 318).” We all still want Elvis. We have created an Elvis Tribute Artist industry whereby producers, managers, musicians, and ETAs/Elvis impersonators are all making money from his legacy by entertaining us with huge productions. EPE is the hub that keeps it all going and the means which has supported Elvis’ family long after his death and rightfully so. Mrs. Presley’s quote about the naysayers, though it’s regarding the planes, sums up the unjust vilification of her, EPE, and Lisa Marie.
Keeping the life, music, legacy, and memory of Elvis alive takes a lot of capital. Time has been a testament to EPE’s success and here we are 38 years later because the business of Elvis is reinvested to ensure his legacy doesn’t die out when the last person, who personally knew Elvis, draws his/her last breath. Elvis, as the loving dad, left it all to Lisa Marie so she would want for nothing and do with it as she saw fit. What has she done with it? With the guidance of a loving mom Lisa Marie has shared the wealth of Elvis’ legacy with us.
Mrs. Presley and EPE know what they’re doing and are in tune with the fans. Moreover, she has passed this wisdom to Lisa Marie. Mrs. Presley is a classy, intuitive woman, and I praise her for standing strong against the criticism and keeping the life, music, legacy, and memory of Elvis alive for us all. Thank you, Mrs. Presley and Lisa Marie, for letting us be a part of Elvis.