The Stunning Transformation Of Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the only child of the late global superstar Elvis Presley and his then wife, Priscilla Presley. Since Lisa Marie's arrival, she has lived under a microscope. Her entire existence has been documented, examined, judged and dissected. As the daughter of Elvis, also known as "The King," she didn't stand a chance at living what most of society would consider a "normal" life. Her parents split up when she was four years old and from that point until his death in 1977, Lisa Marie would travel back and forth between Priscilla's home in Beverly Hills, California and Elvis' Memphis home, "Graceland" (per

At the age of 9, when her father died at just 42, Lisa Marie became sole heir to his fortune following the deaths of her grandfather in 1979 and great-grandmother in 1980 (per Her inheritance was locked in a trust until she was 25 and upon gaining access to it, she rolled it into another trust intended to manage her father's estate. Lisa Marie has now outlived her dad by more than a decade and she's weathered some crushing blows as an adult. Not only has she been married and divorced four times, but recently her only son died tragically. She has admitted to feeling the intense pressure of being Elvis Presley's daughter — while also having to live up to his legacy — even as she has struggled to find her own way both personally and professionally.

Lisa Marie was born to famous parents

When Priscilla Presley got pregnant at 21, she was worried about becoming a mom at such a young age and how having a child would ultimately affect her marriage. Elvis Presley, who had been at the height of his fame during the 1950s, saw his career declining a decade later and was concerned about how his fans would react to him becoming a father. The couple's marriage, which had hardly begun, was already under stress (per The Things). Priscilla wrote about the challenging period in her book "Elvis and Me," and revealed that she had even considered terminating the pregnancy (via Showbiz CheatSheet).

Having decided to go through with the pregnancy, Priscilla gave birth to Lisa Marie exactly nine months after she and Elvis were married. Priscilla was immediately transformed upon seeing her newborn. In an interview with The Guardian, she described her feelings at the time by saying, "My God, this is a product of Elvis and me and I'm going to be there for her." In a Facebook post from 2014, Priscilla dispelled any notion that Lisa Marie was named after anyone and said that she and Elvis had chosen their daughter's moniker from a book of baby names. She said that they browsed through the book night after night together until they decided on the combination of the two names. She also shared that if she had given birth to a boy, he would have been named John Baron.

As a young girl she had the run of Graceland

With her parents divorced by the time she was 4, Lisa Marie Presley would spend the next several years shuttling back and forth between her mom's home in Beverly Hills and Graceland, in Memphis, where her father remained. During an interview on "The Talk," Lisa Marie shared several intimate details about life with her father. She describes her mom's parenting style as very strict and one that she rebelled against, and her father as being exactly the opposite and showing little interest in disciplining her. Presley recalls her childhood at Graceland very fondly and shared with television host Ross King on Great Britain's "Lorraine" show that it is the place where she feels most safe and calm. 

Because her dad worked at night and had a habit of sleeping a lot during the day, she often did the same, but would sometimes wake before he did. Unsupervised, Lisa Marie had the run of Graceland and took full advantage of her position. "I knew that nobody was going to tell me what to do because they would get fired. I was, truly a terror to be honest." She also told King that, after touring an exhibit about her own life, she noticed a quote from her father that she'd never heard before and it really touched her. According to Lisa Marie, it read, "Becoming a father is the best thing that ever happened to me."

She remembers her last interaction with Elvis

Elvis Presley would die tragically during one of Lisa Marie Presley's visits to Graceland and she vividly remembers the last interaction she had with her father. According to Lisa Marie, it was very early in the morning and she was out of her bed wandering around when they encountered each other. He gave her a kiss before sending her back to her bed (per Radaronline). Later that morning, he was discovered deceased and face down in his bathroom by then fiancée Ginger Alden. Lisa Marie says that she saw him there as well and that, "His body was in the house for three days and there was something very oddly comforting about that, which made it not necessarily real to me." She also remembers that the house was tumultuous the morning his body was found.

In her book "Elvis and Me," Priscilla Presley recalls arriving at Graceland and telling a confused Lisa Marie that her father had indeed passed away. The way Lisa Marie reacted confirmed for Priscilla that the reality of the situation hadn't yet sunk in for her daughter and that it made her feel somewhat grateful in that moment (per Showbiz CheatSheet). Riley Keough, who is Lisa Marie's eldest child, was interviewed by Variety, in which she admitted that she never plays her late grandfather's music because she witnessed how hearing Elvis sing would evoke grief in both her mom and grandmother. 

Lisa Marie became a Scientologist as a child

During an interview for the British television show "Lorraine," Lisa Marie Presley spoke about Elvis Presley's devotion to religion, saying, "If you go up to his bedroom [at Graceland] there's a little office connected and there's just nothing but books of every religion and every kind of — it's millions of Bibles and, you know, he was constantly searching." Following her father's death in 1977, Priscilla and Lisa Marie ended up joining a religion themselves — The Church of Scientology (per OK). The two were fairly devout members, and it is where Priscilla would take Lisa Marie as a teenager when she discovered that she was using drugs. Lisa Marie would remain active in the Church for more than three decades. During a rehab stint there, she met her first husband Danny Keough (via People).

Presley would go on to have two children with Keough before divorcing six years later. By the time she wed pop star Michael Jackson, however, she started feeling differently about Scientology and becoming less involved (per OK!). By 2012 she left the religion saying, "They were taking my soul, my money, my everything." It has been suggested that some of the lyrics from her 2012 album are her sounding off against the religion. "I'm a bit transgressive and suppressive as well, well you ain't seen nothin' yet. Am I a disruption to your corruption? You ain't seen nothin' yet," (via The Village Voice).

Her teenage years were rough

Lisa Marie Presley's teenage years were especially trying for both her and her mom, Priscilla, who raised her alone following Elvis Presley's death. Elvis was known to spoil his daughter and Priscilla had a hard time overcoming the effects of that behavior once she was solely in charge of raising Lisa Marie. Priscilla explains that her daughter had a difficult time learning to behave after her father's indulgent parenting style, but Lisa Marie has a different interpretation, "I don't feel like I was spoiled. Anything my father did for me or gave me was done out of love, and I took it as that. I'm sure I had moments when I was a snot. But my mom was there to smack me back to the other side. Whatever he did, she cleaned up," (per Express).

After dropping out of high school, Lisa Marie started dabbling in drugs, which resulted in Priscilla taking her to rehab at The Scientology Celebrity Center (via Biography). Despite Priscilla's efforts at keeping Lisa Marie grounded and out of the spotlight, her daughter still rebelled frequently. At one point they had a physical altercation that led to the police being called (per People). However, the mother-daughter duo was able to poke fun at their tumultuous relationship in an Oldsmobile commercial they made just as Lisa Marie was entering her twenties. The spot was playfully argumentative, and hinted at the often adversarial relationship they shared.  

Lisa Marie inherited her father's $100 million estate

Given Elvis Presley's mega-stardom, it seemed reasonable to assume upon his death that daughter Lisa Marie Presley would be taken care of financially, but that turned out to be far from certain. For a man that readily indulged all of his young daughter's whims, including a private jet ride to play in the snow for a few minutes and renting out amusement parks and movie theaters for their private use (per Forbes), Elvis' estate at the time of his death was worth under $5 million and he was heavily in debt. 

The star's lifetime earnings have been estimated to range from $100 million to $1 billion, but a lifetime of living extravagantly and poor planning had left Lisa Marie's financial future in jeopardy. When Elvis was alive and the coffers were depleted, he simply went on tour, cut an album, or made another movie — but that earning potential died along with Elvis in 1977. Fortunately, Priscilla Presley stepped in to manage what was left and, in large part, was able to rebuild the inheritance by turning Graceland into a tourist attraction. By the time Lisa Marie turned 25 and was eligible to receive the inheritance, it had grown to a value of $100 million. 

She had two quick marriages to famous people

After six years of marriage and two children, Lisa Marie Presley and husband Danny Keough were divorced. Presley followed the split with two marriages to unlikely spouses. Just 20 days after her divorce was finalized, Presley shocked everyone by marrying pop star Michael Jackson. They first met when she was a child, but had no further contact until she was in her twenties and reintroduced by a mutual friend (per US). After spending lots of time on the phone together, Jackson popped the question during one of their calls and the pair began their less than two-year-long marriage. Though she felt that Jackson did love her (per, she says she felt manipulated during the relationship, even down to the awkward kiss they shared at the "MTV Video Awards." Struggles followed, including Jackson's addiction to pain pills, which eventually led to the demise of their relationship. 

Presley met Nicolas Cage in 2000 and embarked on a tempestuous romance. They married in 2002, but he would file for divorce just three months later. During their time together, they went through several break-ups and make-ups and one spat resulted in her engagement ring getting tossed off the side of a boat. Presley summed up their ill-fated romance to Larry King by saying, "We're sort of these gypsy spirited, you know, tyrannical pirates. And [when] one pirate marries another they will sink the ship basically is what it comes down to," (per CNN).

She was not close with her mom until she was in her 30s

Until her thirties Lisa Marie Presley and her mom Priscilla Presley had a rocky relationship by all accounts. Being raised in two homes until she was 9 years old exposed her to two wildly divergent lifestyles. Elvis gave her anything she asked for and Priscilla tried to instill more fiscal responsibility and behavioral boundaries. Unsurprisingly, Lisa Marie had trouble adjusting to the stricter regulations imposed by her mom. As Priscilla described it, "Lisa had trouble learning what was right and wrong," (per Express). 

Apart from having to follow the rules all the time now, Lisa Marie started to feel differently about Scientology as she aged, which caused ripples in their relationship (per Showbiz Cheetsheat). Drug problems, a rebellious nature and curfew-breaking had Priscilla and her daughter at odds for several years. Only when she got older did Lisa Marie describe their relationship as very close (per The Talk). As Lisa Marie told Oprah in 2005, "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 [we] just couldn't find a way to blend."

Lisa Marie is a musician in her own right and has duetted with her dad posthumously

Though she has described her famous heritage as a blessing and a curse (per Baltimore Sun), Presley is more interested in carving out her own space when it comes to a career in music. Having been called a "powerful songwriter," (per she's also received her share of tepid reviews, but that doesn't mean Lisa Marie's willing to compromise or give people what they might expect from Elvis' daughter. In fact, it's the opposite. Lisa Marie has been insistent on honoring her father while thoughtfully cultivating her own style. She wants to acquire a fan base that appreciates her for her own talents. 

Lisa Marie says that one of her earliest memories is Elvis catching her singing into her hairbrush as a toddler. Sadly, they were never able to sing together professionally when he was alive. That said, she has on a few occasions, sung alongside videos of her father to stunning effect. In duetted versions of "In the Ghetto," "Where No One Stands Alone," and "Don't Cry Daddy," to name a few, Lisa Marie showcases her vocal talents and this, to some extent, must appease fans who are eager to experience what it might have been like if Elvis were still alive. Lisa Marie refuses to be pigeon-holed or participate in anything she considers contrived, but works to respect and maintain her father's legacy while creating a unique oeuvre of her own.

At 40 she gave birth to twins and became addicted to opioids

Lisa Marie Presley did a stint in drug rehab at the Scientology Celebrity Center as a teenager, but found herself in the middle of a full-fledged opioid addiction at the age of 40 following the birth of her twin daughters Vivienne and Finley. Presley said regarding the onset of her addiction that, "It only took a short-term prescription of opioids in the hospital for me to feel the need to keep taking them" (per People).

The seriousness of Lisa Marie's addiction came to light amidst her nasty divorce from husband number four, Michael Lockwood. In court documents, Presley admitted that she had been using painkillers, opioids, alcohol and cocaine to the point where she'd gone to Mexican rehab centers on several occasions in order to seek treatment (per Radaronline). At the time, both Presley and Lockwood were hurling damaging accusations at each other, so the twins lived with her mom for awhile. Presley, who had been ambivalent to share her story, detailed her struggles in a forward she penned for author Harry Nelson's "The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain." She called for an end to the shame associated with addiction, acknowledged those who suffer silently, and urged people to educate themselves about the dangers of opioid abuse. She credited her four children for providing her with a purpose to get clean and recognized that she was fortunate to have made it through the harrowing episode.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She went to England to work on an album in 2010 and ended up staying there for several years

In 2010 Lisa Marie Presley, her husband Michael Lockwood, and their young twin daughters went to England to work on her next record and ended up staying for several years (per Express). Liking it there so much resulted in the purchase of a farm set on 50 acres in East Sussex. After being fed-up with Los Angeles, she decided to start from scratch in the English countryside. She says she was tired of living life under a microscope, and being surrounded by unsavory people. "I was around the wrong people for a long time, people who have no conscience, people who are doing the most draconian things and I had no idea about any of it."

Opting to remain in England much longer than she had originally anticipated, Presley took advantage of a certain level of anonymity that life in the small village provided. While there, she could go unrecognized, enjoy a pint at the local pub, and wander around without causing a hubbub. Perhaps one of her more quaint experiences was when she helped out at the local chip shop and went largely unnoticed by the public (per Daily Mail). After several years abroad, however, the family eventually pulled up stakes and came back to the United States.

She worries about dying young like Elvis did

Having watched drugs contribute to the deaths of her father and Michael Jackson didn't prevent Lisa Marie Presley from becoming addicted to prescription painkillers herself. Fortunately, she beat the odds and got past her addiction, but has admitted to engaging in other dangerous habits. For starters, she smoked cigarettes until she was 39 and really had to commit herself to quitting. The process caused her to gain weight, but Lisa Marie managed to tackle that habit as well (per Healthy Living).

Lisa Marie worries about dying at a young age like her father (via the Daily Mail), and remembers fretting about his health. Express reported that she would see him lose his balance and ask, "You're not going to die are you?" Presley also said, "There were several times where I'd get worried and go check on him and find him in these bad states." These memories obviously stuck with her because Lisa Marie reports that she tried every fad diet in the book to lose the extra pounds after her first child was born. Upon reaching her "teenage weight" in 2014, she shared with People what had motivated her. "Knowing my family history — my father's side is totally not healthy and they have shorter life spans, while my mom's side is super fit with long life spans — I didn't know where I would land. So I said, 'Okay. I'm going to play it safe and try to be as healthy as I can be.'"

Her son Benjamin committed suicide

Lisa Marie Presley has suffered two of the most tragic events a person can experience in life: her father's death when she was a young child and now the loss of her own child. On July 12, 2020, Presley's only son Benjamin Keough was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. During her own birthday party, Keough's girlfriend Diana Pinto went to check on him and discovered his lifeless body. An autopsy revealed that he had alcohol and cocaine in his system. Keough, who also had a history of depression, had been to rehab several times (per The Sun). Known for spending extended periods alone in his bedroom, he may have headed there that day after an altercation with Pinto. 

A source also told the outlet that Keough's father had rushed to Lisa's side and that they were grieving together privately. According to another source who spoke to The Sun, Ben had been struggling to find his place in the world and had experienced difficulty living up to the legacy created by his grandfather. Lisa Marie, who is said to be inconsolable, made a heartbreaking Instagram post dedicated to her son which read in part, "I worshipped the ground you walked on, on this earth and now in Heaven. My heart and soul went with you.The depth of the pain is suffocating and bottomless without you every moment of every day." Keough is buried at Graceland next to his grandfather (per Billboard).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Living up to Elvis' legacy has been difficult

Rather than trying to live up to Elvis Presley's legacy, it might be more appropriate to say that Lisa Marie Presley is trying to live with it. As she continues to share her father's life and accomplishments by her work with Graceland, the singer has tried to embrace the gravity of her legendary name. Producer Glen Ballard, who has worked with many recording artists, collaborated with Presley on her first album, "To Whom It May Concern," which was released in 2003. The producer recalled Presley feeling the weight of her dad's legacy and the cathartic feelings that accompanied the recording of her professional debut. Ballard co-wrote Presley's first single, "Lights Out," and shared with Express, "We had this song... which I think is always going to be associated with her, just about the overwhelming burden of being Elvis' daughter."

In an interview with Stina Dabrowski, Presley stated, "Songwriting is cathartic and therapeutic for me, so I pull from pain. I respond to music where someone's really sort of purging emotionally. I've been writing to get myself through things." In her interview for "Lorraine," she summed up her short but meaningful relationship with her father by saying, she knew he really loved her and that, "There was a really strong connection there since the minute I can remember. It kind of reinstates what I felt was the truth, which is that I felt like I was the most important thing to him."