Lisa Marie Presley: A life haunted by tragedy

Losing her famous father and beloved son affected the star more than anybody knew

Just three days after a glorious triumph at the Golden Globes, Elvis Presley’s family was hit with tragedy as The King’s daughter Lisa Marie died suddenly from cardiac arrest at just 54.

In an emotional statement, her shattered mum Priscilla, 77, announced, “It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us. She was

the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss. Thank you for the love and prayers.”

Just days before, Priscilla and Lisa Marie had been celebrating the Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic Elvis sweeping the Golden Globe Awards, with the mother-daughter duo in tears as the film’s star Austin Butler honoured them in his Best Actor speech.

Elvis was smitten the moment he saw baby Lisa Marie.

“No one can believe it,” a family insider tells Woman’s Day, adding that the whole Presley clan is wrecked by the news. At the time of print, toxicology findings were underway and those close to Lisa Marie have said she never truly recovered from losing her son Benjamin in July 2020.

“Broken-heart syndrome is real,” concedes a close friend, who says Lisa Marie took the real extent of her grief and devastation to the grave.

The singer’s 27-year-old son Ben with first husband Danny Keough devastated the family with his suicide on 12 July 2020. In what was to be her last post on Instagram, two years after his passing, she linked to an essay she’d written about dealing with grief, admitting she blamed herself for his death.

“She tried to be as strong as her mum was when her father died and learned early on to not burden people with her problems,” says our source, who admits Lisa Marie was suffering a lot more than she ever let on.

Family curse

There’s no doubt the Presleys have endured many traumas, with the roller-coaster life of four-times-divorced Lisa Marie often sparking whispers that the family is “cursed”.

Indeed, Lisa Marie lost her hero father when she was just nine and spent the rest of her life in search of a father figure. Tragically, the singer also struggled with addiction issues, and was in and out of rehab.

As a family with her famous father and mother.

Despite being the sole heir to Graceland and the Presley fortune, insiders say Lisa Marie’s three daughters, Riley, 33, and 14-year-old twins Harper and Finley, “will struggle” to keep the estate in the family.

Unfortunately, Lisa Marie had severe financial issues as a result of her bitter 2021 divorce from fourth hubby Michael Lockwood.

We’re told, “She had no idea where millions of dollars went, always owed taxes and her monthly running costs were close to $150,000. As much as she wanted Graceland to stay in the family, it’s a big money pit for those girls to take on.”

A mother’s pain

Grieving mum Priscilla Presley “will never be the same” after the loss of her only child, as friends say the actress is “still in denial” that her daughter has gone.

“You can’t imagine what she’s going through,” says a worried friend, who admits Priscilla has always had Lisa there to help her through devastating times.

Insiders say it’s Priscilla’s granddaughters – Riley and twins Finley and Harper – who are going to play a key role in getting her through this latest tragedy.

Mother and daughter always shared a strong bond.

“Those girls are going to save her,” adds the friend. “She’s in total despair, but seeing the pain of those three beautiful girls has strengthened her resolve to keep going, to be strong for them. It’s impossible to imagine the pain they’re all in, but the girls need her just as much as she needs them.”

Saving grace

As we went to press, Lisa Marie Presley was due to be laid to rest alongside her late son and father at the family’s historic Graceland estate in Memphis, where mourning fans have flocked to pay respects. As the sole heir to Elvis’ estate, Lisa Marie joined mum Priscilla in a long battle to keep Graceland in the family.

“Graceland costs a small fortune to keep running and it was decimating the fortune Elvis left behind,” says an insider. Lisa Marie reportedly inherited a million dollars from her father, so she and her mother took matters into their own hands, turning it into a viable fan park and museum.

Graceland is a full-time job for the family.

In 2003, Lisa Marie told Entertainment Tonight that maintaining the estate was a full-time job, adding, “It’s a nonstop focus and job for all of us.” When questioned on whether she would ever sell it, she said, “It has always been mine, Graceland. It will always be. And when it is no longer mine, it will be my children’s. And that is that.”

Divorce drama

Lisa Marie’s love life was anything but happy ever after, with four heartbreaking divorces and a vicious custody battle.

It was her relationships that would dominate the headlines, beginning with her first marriage to musician Danny Keough, the man she met in rehab as a teenager and who would end up being by her side in her final days.

The couple wed in 1988 and welcomed daughter Riley almost eight months later. Son Ben was born in 1992, but the two would divorce two years later, remaining friends for the rest of her life. In 2003, Lisa Marie called him her “absolute best friend in the world”.

In a move that would make headlines all over the world, 20 days after her divorce, Lisa Marie married Michael Jackson in a secret 15-minute ceremony in the Dominican Republic in 1994. The marriage would end in divorce two years later, with Lisa Maria declaring it “the biggest mistake of my life”, despite insisting it was a genuine love match.

Sadly, Lisa Marie didn’t learn from that experience and would go on to have a four-month marriage to Oscar winner Nicolas Cage six years later. Of their 2004 divorce, she said, “We shouldn’t have been married in the first place.”

Lisa Marie would endure more heartbreak after her fourth marriage to rocker Michael Lockwood, the father of her twin girls, ended in a brutal custody battle in 2016. Lisa Marie claimed to have found child porn on Michael’s laptop, but police found no criminal activity.

“You can’t imagine what she’s been through,” adds a friend. “But through all of it, becoming a mother was the most important. She fought hard and at great cost.”


Lisa Marie’s final public appearance couldn’t have been more fitting. Clinging to her mum Priscilla while fighting back tears of joy as Elvis star Austin Butler dedicated his Golden Globe win to her late father is a bittersweet moment the late King’s fans will never forget.

“Thank you for opening your hearts, your memories, your home to me,” the 31-year-old said to the Presley family. “Lisa Marie, Priscilla, I love you forever!”

Lisa said Austin embodied her dad’s “heart and soul beautifully”.

Friends say Lisa found “deep closure” in working with Austin on Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed biopic. “Austin and Baz helped her bring to life her dream tribute to her father,” says an insider. “She became very protective of Austin, who is not just like Elvis, but also like [her late son] Ben. She was taken from us way too soon, but there’s no doubt this movie is her final swansong.”

Lisa Marie told ET she took a while to recover after seeing Austin play her dad, revealing, “I had to take five days to process it because it was so incredible.”

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