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Priscilla Presley on how she wants to be remembered

The star finally sets the record straight about her relationship with Elvis

By Megan McChesney
As the final credits to the movie Priscilla rolled at the Venice Film Festival last year, lead actress Cailee Spaeny fidgeted nervously in her seat.
Next to her sat Priscilla Presley, the woman whose life she'd just laid bare on the screen in front of them.
"She turned to me and said, 'I watched my life through you and through this movie,'" Cailee, 25, later shared. "And the weight off my shoulders when she said that was massive. I broke down in tears."
Priscilla has spent a lifetime in a gilded cage, known as the woman who married Elvis, the King of rock'n'roll. Then, she was the woman who gave birth to Elvis' child. Then, the woman who left Elvis.
Now, as executive producer of Oscar-winning director Sofia Coppola's new biopic, she is getting to see her story being told on her own terms. At 78, it seems Priscilla feels she is finally being seen as a person in her own right.
Priscilla opens in cinemas on February 1 and is already being talked about in Hollywood circles as an awards contender.
Based on Priscilla's memoir Elvis and Me, it traces her extraordinary life. Her mother, Ann, gave birth to Priscilla when she was just 19, and six months later, her navy pilot dad, James Wagner, died in a plane crash.
Cailee and Jacob Elordi star as the famous couple.
Three years later, Ann tied the knot with Air Force officer Paul Beaulieu, and Priscilla, "a shy, pretty, little girl", moved with her family to different air bases every few years.
By 1959, the Beaulieus were based in West Germany and Elvis, aged 24 and already a big star, was doing his military service in the same town.
The two met at a party at the singer's home and despite the Beaulieus' concerns about the age difference, they allowed them to see each other.
"People think, 'Oh, it was sex,'" Priscilla said recently. "No, it wasn't. He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old.
"It was difficult for my parents to understand that Elvis would be so interested in me. And I really do think it was because I was more of a listener. Elvis would pour his heart out to me... His fears, his hopes, the loss of his mother – which he never, ever got over. That was really our connection."
After Elvis had finished his military service, Priscilla's parents let her move to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, in 1963, on the understanding she would finish her high school education and that a wedding was in the offing.
At Graceland, Elvis slowly changed the way his young girlfriend looked, getting her to wear make-up and grown-up dresses, and to change her hairstyle.
"When I did something that wasn't to his liking, I was corrected," Priscilla later recalled.
Elvis was addicted to prescription drugs, and he often gave Priscilla uppers to keep her awake at school and downers to bring her down from her highs.
They finally tied the knot in Las Vegas in 1966, and nine months later, Priscilla gave birth to their daughter, Lisa Marie.
Love me tender: Welcoming daughter Lisa Marie.
Throughout their six-year marriage, their bedroom was littered with bottles of pills. They owned his-and-hers clocks, and Elvis had two phones – one for private calls and the other solely for calls from his overbearing manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Elvis enjoyed a string of affairs and Priscilla also fell into the arms of a number of lovers, including her karate instructor. In 1972, she told Elvis she was leaving.
"It wasn't because I didn't love him – he was the love of my life," says Priscilla. "It was the lifestyle that was so difficult for me and I think any woman can relate to that."
Indeed, when the pair left the courthouse on the day of their divorce, they held hands.
Priscilla never remarried and went on to build a successful career as an actor, starring in the blockbuster TV soap Dallas and in three Naked Gun movies.
After Elvis' death in 1977, aged 42, she turned Graceland into a successful tourism destination, securing daughter Lisa Marie's financial future.
Priscilla, however, hasn't been saved from further heartbreak.
Lisa Marie died in January last year, aged 54, as a result of weight-loss surgery complications.
Before her death, she'd seen an early version of the Priscilla script and wrote a stinging rebuke to Sofia Coppola for her "contemptuous" treatment of her father.
The script was amended, but we will never know if the final version was met with Lisa Marie's approval.
One person who has given it the thumbs-up, however, is Elvis' stepbrother David Stanley, who said after the film's premiere, "I felt it was a good depiction of her life with Elvis."

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