The Presley Women | Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley | Mother/Daughter Interview
Source: The Oprah Winfrey Show
May 17, 2009
Then on August 16, 1977, the world heard the heartbreaking news: Elvis Presley was dead.
At 9 years old, Lisa Marie's life was changed forever. She struggled through her teens and admits experimenting with drugs. However, she eventually turned her life around, found love and married musician Danny Keough. They had two children - daughter, Riley, and son, Benjamin.
Lisa Marie and Danny later divorced. For the most part, Lisa Marie was able to avoid the headlines until her high profile and short-lived marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.
Lisa Marie has tried to maintain a relatively low profile and says that her reputation for being tough is not entirely warranted'. You have to sort of get a protective skin outside, even if it's not real', she says.
'I think that was a survival mechanism [for me]'.
Lisa Marie says that she is conflicted about having grown up in the public eye. 'I'm not someone who desires or wants attention', she says. 'I've never been one of those people that run around, you know, walking every red carpet and going to every opening of every envelope, doing Presley perfumes and singing Elvis cover songs. I'm just innately not the type of person that wants attention on me. This has been my biggest battle, and it's why it took me so long to do a record. I had to really find how to be okay with all of that before doing it'.
When I put my first record out I realized how much was there prior to me introducing myself and coming out in public and talking. I was like, 'You have no idea who I am'. 'I'm introducing myself to you for the first time and you have all of these pre-conceived [ideas] of me'.
Lisa Marie was married to Michael Jackson for nearly two years, between 1994 and 1996.
Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley's First Mother/Daughter Interview Together
From The Oprah Winfrey Show
Oprah: You said you loved him.
Lisa Marie: Yes.
Lisa Marie Presley
Oprah: Do you think he loved you?
Lisa Marie: It's hard for me to answer that question. I don't know the answer to that, to be honest with you.
Oprah: Do you think that he loved you as much as he could?
Lisa Marie: Yes, as much as he was capable of loving somebody.
Oprah: Do you think he used you?
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie: This seat is hot, let me tell you! Do I think he did? All signs point to yes on that.
I can't answer for him.
Lisa Marie married for the third time in 2002, to actor Nicolas Cage. Their volatile relationship ended quickly, with Nicolas filing for divorce after just 108 days. Lisa Marie says although she was upset by the breakup, things are better between them now. 'I have to give him credit, you know. That was not a fun time for either of us. He did redeem himself in the end and we did become very good friends after that. We're better like that. And he's happily married and has a baby coming now, which is great'.
Lisa Marie says that having children with her first husband, Danny Keough, was one of the best things she has ever done. Lisa Marie and Danny were together for about eight years, and Lisa Marie says she knew at age 19 that Danny was the person she wanted to have children with. 'I've never had that same instinct with a man, you know, knowing that it would be all good, safe', she says. 'I knew that no matter what happened we would always be connected, and I don't know how I knew that at such a young age but I instinctively knew that and had those children with him and we are like best friends; brother and sister'.
Lisa Marie says she and Danny raise their two children together, and that he even lives on her property. 'We have like a compound so he has his house and we spend holidays together', she says.
'It's hard to have that kind of relationship with your ex … but I think it's very important if you have children with somebody to keep your responsibility. You don't need to put what you guys went through or what you had with each other on the children'.
Oprah: Are you proud of your mothering skills?
When you look at yourself as a mother, where would you rate yourself? Scale 1 to 10.
Lisa Marie: An 8.
Oprah: I think 8 is about as good as you can do! What do you think you're best at as a mother?
Lisa Marie: Just overwhelming them with affection and love. They need to push me off of them constantly ... I'm crazy about them and they know it. And then having that, versus being their friend - trying really hard to be their friend as well as be a mother. That's the fence you walk, which is important because you can't go too much on one side or the other.
Oprah: How do you instill in them what's important as a human being? As a citizen of the world, your community, when you've got everything?
Lisa Marie: You have to be an example. I'm not somebody who sits around. I'm not happy unless I'm helping other people. And they watch me and they see that. You have to just be a good example
The public rarely heard from Lisa Marie until she found her own voice and shared it with the world.
Oprah: Do you always feel like you're being compared to your father or have you reached a place where you're comfortable; you can embrace it; you can use it to infuse your own life and not reject it, or not feel like, 'Oh, people are always thinking about him when they're thinking about me?'
Lisa Marie: I think that that was a huge mountain to climb and ultimately, you know, there is going be some of that there, and I do embrace it. I understand that part of it.
Oprah: Are you still trying to say, 'No, I have my own life. I have my own identity'.
Lisa Marie: No, I'm trying to find a good balance between the two. It's not that I want to push that away.
You can't do that.
Oprah: That is very smart on your part. The fact, first of all, you look like him! And that's a good thing.
And that is a part of who you are.
Before Lisa Marie's mother, Priscilla Presley, joins the show, Oprah wants to know about the new man in Lisa Marie's life. Lisa Marie says Michael Lockwood, the musical director in her band, is 'perfect' for her.
Lisa Marie: We'd already worked together for a year and we were on the road together so we already knew very well what we were getting into. By perfect, I don't mean literally. I just mean for me. Like the soul mate thing, the best friends, the whole - we do everything together and, no, I'm not wearing a ring.
Oprah: Are you done with marriage?
Lisa Marie: I would never say I'm done with it. I think I would get married if I want to have more children.
Priscilla Presley is here for her first TV interview with her daughter!
Priscilla Beaulieu was just 14 when she met 25-year-old Army private Elvis Presley in Germany in 1959. Despite their age difference, the two had an instant connection. After completing his tour of duty, Elvis returned to America. Two years later, he asked Priscilla's father if she could move to Graceland. It nearly tore the family apart, but in the end her father agreed and Priscilla attended her senior year of high school in Memphis. It was a life unlike any other American teenager - by day, she was a high school student; at night, she was Elvis' girlfriend. In 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married in Las Vegas.
Since her days with Elvis, Priscilla went on to become her own woman, of course. She's an actress, an author, a producer and mother to Lisa Marie and a son, Navarone, who's 18.
Priscilla says the Elvis she knew - and the life they led together - was very different from the one the public knew. 'I met a very vulnerable Elvis', she says of her first meeting with 'the King'. 'I didn't really see him as a movie star. I got to see a side of Elvis that very few people got to see. He had just lost his mother a year before that and he was in the Army in Germany, a very foreign place to him. And he was just like a little boy, really ... So I was someone that he really confided in and talked to at the time'.
Elvis Presley in the Army - April 10, 1959 Germany - Armed Forces Day
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Oprah Winfrey
Priscilla says their world was like a bubble. 'We had our own friends. We traveled with them constantly. We ate with them. We worked with them. We [took] trips and bus trips and planes and vacations, and it wasn't a real life. It was really our own world entirely with the same people. Elvis very rarely associated with anyone in Hollywood, believe it or not. He was a Memphis, Tennessee, boy and he would go back to Graceland and that was his refuge. That was where he, you know, thrived'.
Priscilla says she tried very hard to raise a daughter who was grounded. But Elvis often would spoil Lisa Marie with lavish gifts. Priscilla says she would take the gifts - including a diamond ring he gave Lisa Marie when she was 6 years old - and put them away in a closet. 'He gave her a fur coat - a mink coat', Priscilla recalls. 'I think he gave it to her for her birthday and I said, You're not wearing this. This is not for you. You're 5 years old. You're not wearing a mink coat. I'm sorry. Excuse me'. So I called him up and I said, 'What are you doing?'
'So it was just too much'.
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley
Priscilla says Elvis, who grew up very poor, just wanted to give his daughter things he didn't have. 'And even though a child doesn't put a lot on it, others put a lot on it', Priscilla says. 'The comments from other people ... that really bothered me because I didn't want her to grow up as we know many privileged children are. Excess is really horrible. If you're not ready for it, it really does disturb your judgment'.
After Elvis' death, Lisa Marie moved to live full time with Priscilla in Los Angeles. Priscilla says she was worried about the effect of that city on Lisa Marie. 'L.A. is not really a place to raise children', Priscilla says.
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley
'There's too much excess there. There's too much of everything there. And my battle was trying to keep her away from all of that, and that's why I sent her to a school about two hours away, thinking that would be a way of keeping her out of the scene'.
There was even a time in which Priscilla tried to instill some sophistication in Lisa Marie. 'I wanted you to go to school in Europe', Priscilla says. 'Study French. Be a model for the French, you know'.
How did Lisa Marie like her introduction to continental culture? 'She sent me to Europe', she says.
'Oh God, what a nightmare'.
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley
As everyone knows, Graceland was Elvis' beloved home. Since his death, it has become the No. 1 tourist attraction in Memphis and the second-most-visited home in the United States - right behind the White House.
However, the Presleys initially resisted opening Graceland to the public. 'It took a long time to decide after he passed away', Priscilla says. But there weren't really enough finances there to keep it going. We had a staff that was with us for years and years and years, and we had to let everyone go. It was a shock. We had estate taxes coming in, we had government taxes. Again, it wasn't an overnight decision'.
Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley
However, rumors have spread recently that the Presley family sold Graceland. Priscilla dismissed them simply, saying, 'No, it is not sold'. The confusion, she says, stems from a recent licensing deal. 'We were looking for years for a strategic partner to help us grow', Priscilla explains. 'We've been open for 25 years now. We're a private company, and we thought, 'Gosh, we'd like to be able to reach those people who can't afford to come to Graceland. We have fans all over the world. So we found this particular partner who was on the same page as we were and basically took the licensing, and that is really what was taken'.
'See, they're two different things', Lisa Marie explains. 'There's the Elvis Presley Estate, which [are] the things in the house and all of his stuff, which will never be touched. [We sold] 85 percent of the licensing and marketing - we still own 15 percent. But everything [in Graceland] is still ours. It will never be touched. A lot of that money went back into the forming of a bigger company, which is going to expand it and make it even bigger and make it go places it hasn't been able to go'.
Although they are close now, Priscilla and Lisa Marie say it's only been in the last few years that they have been really able to bond.
Lisa Marie: I think it was just - we're so the opposite of each other, if you haven't noticed already. My demeanor immediately went into [that of] a 15 year old when she walked out here! I think it was just that she's got a china shop and I'm the bull that comes in. I mean, I'm more abrasive. She's very poised, which is great. And I'm the way I am. And I think that that just couldn't find a way to blend.
Oprah: How do you explain it, Priscilla?
Priscilla: I've probably been the force in her life that put discipline on her, which she needs, excuse me. And I think that's a good thing. I hope that it's a good thing! You know, I'm honest with her. In this business you find very few people who are honest; who will tell you the truth. And I think I'm that sounding board for her even though she does her own thing and always has done her own thing. So I'm the one person that has really been the one with the discipline and she probably [resented that.]
Priscilla says that she found out about Lisa Marie's first marriage, to musician Danny Keough, only on the day of their wedding by phone. But even that was better, she says, than how she found out about Lisa Marie's marriage to Michael Jackson. 'There were helicopters over my home to see if she was coming over, see what I would do', Priscilla says of the press anticipating her reaction to the marriage. 'Drown myself in the pool?'
'I don't know', she adds jokingly. Finishing the story, Lisa Marie explains how she told Priscilla. 'You called me and said, Oh God, there's helicopters above the house', Lisa Marie says. 'They're saying you married Michael Jackson'. And then I was silent'.
Priscilla holds out hope to this day that Michael Jackson actually loved Lisa Marie, and that their marriage involved legitimate reasoning on his part. 'I want to believe he [loved her]', she says. 'I would hate to believe that it was only for one thing, whether it be to maintain his popularity or to be associated somehow to her and her father. I really don't want to go there with that'.
'It's just hard for me to believe that people do that. I mean, and she's really lovable'.
Despite initially trying to shield her from a music career and the 'big shoes' she'd have to fill, Priscilla is supportive of Lisa Marie's singing. And what would Elvis think about Lisa Marie's career? 'I think he'd be so proud', Priscilla says. 'I think he'd probably be giving her all kinds of advice. I think he'd also be there, trying to tell her what songs to sing and what not to sing and how to sing it. He had to have his hand in a lot of areas like that, of course. I think he'd be really pleased'.
In the notes for her CD, Now What, Lisa Marie wrote a special message to her parents, thanking them and calling the three of them an 'eternal unit, never broken'.
Interview with Lisa Marie Presley (And Michael Lockwood).
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