LISA MARIE PRESLEY An Original American Princess by Kaya Morgan
With a father like the King, Lisa Marie Presley is the closest thing we have in this country to down home American royalty. But few actually know the real Lisa Marie. As sole heir to her father's estate, her estimated net worth is said to be close to $300 million. Yeah sure, she's kept the tabloids a'buzz with her early drug problems, Vogue modeling campaigns for Versace, Gap, and Cartier, and her "one-minute" marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage. But, that's only because of our fascination with her enigmatic combination of tender and tough.
A celebrity since the moment of her birth in 1968 nine months to the day after the fairy-tale wedding of Elvis to his young bride, Priscilla Beaulieu, she soon earned a reputation for being overly indulged by her father. Growing up in the lap of luxury, Elvis frequently dressed her in miniature fur coats, showered her with jewels, provided her with her own golf cart to ride around the estate, and once even flew her to Idaho aboard his private jet dubbed Lisa Marie just so she could play in the snow.
Presley cherishes the memories of making music with her dad. "He would always wake me up to sing in the middle of the night," she told Diane Sawyer in a revealing TV interview earlier this year. Certainly, she was the star of her father's universe even after her parents split when she was just four. Bouncing between the Graceland mansion and her mother's home in Beverly Hills, Lisa Marie often attended Elvis concerts, and learned songs to play for him on the piano he bought for her. "He liked that I played piano," she told Sawyer.
But this seemingly perfect life all came to a complete stop on August 16, 1977 the day Elvis died, a victim of heart failure brought on by years of substance abuse. In the house at the time, the shocked 9-year-old reportedly screamed as her father lay dead on the bathroom floor. A brooding, lonely child in the aftermath of her father's death, she chafed at the strict discipline imposed by Priscilla, daughter of a career military officer who enforced rigid rules, a far cry from Elvis's lax ways.
Inheriting her father's rebellious spirit, "I was always blasting music in my room," Presley told The New York Times, "and it got me through all the tough times in my life." In her early teens, Priscilla, a longtime member of the Church of Scientology, suspected that Lisa Marie was experimenting with drugs, and enrolled her in a church-run school. "I was never really addicted," Lisa Marie told Rolling Stone. "Maybe it was to scare the hell out of my mother, if anything." By age 17, she was drug-free and had grown so close to her mother that she was present in the delivery room when Pricilla gave birth to her son Navarone.
At 18, she dropped out of the exclusive Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles and moved into an apartment in the Scientologists' Celebrity Center on Sunset Boulevard. There, after a successful drug rehabilitation, she first met Danny Keough, the aspiring musician she later married in 1988 in a ceremony at the center. Though now divorced, as the father of her two children, he still remains very much a part of her life. She refers to him as her "best friend in the world."
Taking care of business now means focusing on her own career and family. Though she admits she's a bit relationship-shy, she adores and has a very close and loving relationship with her children, Danielle, age 13, and Ben 10. Following in the King's footsteps, her debut album, To Whom It May Concern, has received rave reviews showing off both her surprisingly powerful voice and original songwriting talents. Musically, the album bears a distinctive rock edge. "This is me. Every song is me. You're going to see who I really am and not what the tabloids say or whatever anyone has to say about me." Although it has taken her 35 years to find her voice, if she continues to live up to her potential, it was worth the wait and would surely make daddy proud.
Despite some of the negative press, Lisa Marie Presley deserves a lot of accolades as well. She has become an outspoken activist against several social issues, including at Congress in 2002 when she spoke out against medicating mentally-challenged children, as head of the Presley Foundation, and the establishment of Presley Place, a housing development for previously homeless families, last year receiving the World Literacy Crusade's Humanitarian Award for her outstanding efforts.
Her eerie resemblance to the King from her eyes right down to the upturned lip that was the Elvis trademark, to her flashy dance moves and incredible vocal talent it's clear that she inherited more than just good looks from dad. It can't be easy being the daughter of a legend, and it's not Lisa Marie's fault that she was born into such a family. We have no choice but to give her credit for following her dreams and recovering from her hardships in the public eye. In fact, we might even admire her for finally opening up and becoming so readily accessible. In some small way, one could say that Elvis has definitely not left the building.
To find more about Lisa Marie Presley, go to www.lisamariepresley.com
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