Priscilla Ann Presley (born May 24, 1945) is an American actress and business magnate. She is the former wife of singer Elvis Presley as well as co-founder and former chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), the company that turned Graceland into one of the top tourist attractions in the United States. She is a Member of Scientology. In her acting career, Presley starred with Leslie Nielsen in the three successful Naked Gun films, and played the role of Jenna Wade on the long-running television series Dallas.
Ancestry and early life
Born as Priscilla Wagner, her maternal grandfather, Albert Henry Iversen, was born in 1899 in Egersund, Norway. He emigrated to the United States, where he married Lorraine, who was of Scots-Irish and English descent. Their daughter, Anna Lillian Iversen, was born in March 1926. Later she was called – or her name was changed to – Ann. At the age of 19, she gave birth to Priscilla.
In a letter to the City Hall of Egersund, Ann asked for information about their relatives, and wrote that Priscilla was interested in knowing about them; Priscilla’s parents then visited family members in Norway in the 1990s. Priscilla has a square named after her in Egersund – Priscilla Presleys plass. The area is in the street outside the house where her grandfather was born and lived. Priscilla and her family were invited by the Lord Mayor of Egersund to the opening ceremony of Priscilla Presleys plass, which took place August 23, 2008, but were unable to go due to Lisa Marie being pregnant.
Priscilla’s biological father was US Navy pilot James Wagner. His parents were Kathryn and Harold Wagner of German descent. On August 10, 1944, at the age of 23, he married Priscilla’s mother; they had been dating for more than three years. He was killed in a plane crash while returning home on leave when Priscilla was six months old. When Priscilla discovered this “family secret” while rummaging through an old wooden box of family keepsakes, she was encouraged by her mother to keep it from the other children as she feared it would “endanger our family closeness”.
In 1948, her mother met a United States Air Force officer named Paul Beaulieu, from Quebec, Canada. The couple were married within a year. Beaulieu took over the raising of Priscilla, and was the only father she would ever know. Over the next few years Priscilla grew up quickly, helping to care for the growing family as her father’s Air Force career moved them from Connecticut to New Mexico to Maine. In her own words, she described herself during this period as “a shy, pretty little girl unhappily accustomed to moving from base to base every two or three years”. Priscilla later recalled that she felt uncomfortable moving so often because she never knew if she could make friends for life, or even if she would fit in with the new people she met on each move.
In 1956, the Beaulieus moved to and settled in Austin, Texas, but soon her father was transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany. Priscilla was “crushed” by this news, and after finishing junior high her fears of leaving her friends behind and making new ones were once again at the forefront of her mind.
Life in Germany
Initially the Beaulieus stayed at the Helene Hotel when they arrived in Germany, but after three months, living there became too expensive and they looked for a place to rent. The family settled in a large apartment in a “vintage building constructed long before World War I”. Soon after moving in, the Beaulieus realized that it was a brothel, but due to scarce housing, they were forced to remain there.
In 1973, after her split from Elvis, Presley set up a joint venture with her friend and stylist Olivia Bis. Together they opened a clothing boutique in Los Angeles called Bis & Beau. Elvis was supportive of Priscilla’s venture, and even contacted several friends in public relations to help with promotion for the launch. In a 1973 interview to promote the opening of the store, Priscilla said, “After the separation, I had to make up my mind about what I wanted to do, and since I had worked with Olivia for such a long time on my own clothes, I decided to try it professionally. We both do the designing for the shop, and have people who sew for us.” The shop was a successful venture, with celebrity clients including Cher, Lana Turner, Barbra Streisand, and Natalie Wood shopping there regularly. The shop closed in 1976.
After Elvis’ death in 1977, Priscilla acted as executor for his only heir, Lisa Marie (who was then only 9). Graceland itself cost $500,000 a year in upkeep, and expenses had dwindled Lisa Marie’s inheritance to only $1 million. Taxes due on the property and other expenses due came to over $500,000. Faced with having to sell Graceland, Priscilla examined other famous homes/museums. She hired a CEO, Jack Soden, to turn Graceland into a tourist attraction. Graceland was opened to the public on June 7, 1982. Presley’s gamble paid off; only four weeks after opening Graceland’s doors, the estate made back all the money it had invested. Priscilla became the chairwoman and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), stating she would remain in the position until Lisa Marie reached 21 years of age. Under Presley’s guidance, the enterprise’s fortunes soared and eventually the trust grew to be worth over $100 million.
In 1988, Presley launched her own range of fragrances, and followed this up with a range of linen. She has also helped produce a couple of films, including Breakfast with Einstein and Finding Graceland. In September 2000, Presley was elected to the board of directors at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Always supportive, in 2015 Priscilla became the executive producer of a 14-track album titled – “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.” She states “If Elvis were here, he would be evolving and taking risks, seemingly like everybody else today.”  Also in that year the U.S. Postmaster General, Megan Brennan and Priscilla Presley, dedicated a Elvis “forever” stamp which featured a 1955 black and white shot by photographer William Speer. It was her second dedication of a USPS stamp. The first Elvis stamp, issued in 1993, was the most popular edition of stamps in the Postal Service history. Elvis became the first artist to be featured in two different collections of stamps.
Hal B. Wallis, a Hollywood producer who had financed many of Elvis’ earlier films, had shown an interest in signing Priscilla to a contract. Elvis, however, had no intentions of allowing his wife to have a career of any kind; in his opinion, albeit a very common one at the time, “a woman’s place was in the home looking after her man”. Priscilla had shown an interest in dancing and modeling, but her knowledge of Elvis’ opinion meant that she kept them as hobbies instead of pursuing them as careers. She did get the opportunity to model for a local store once, but when Elvis heard about it, he asked her to give it up.
Presley had originally been offered a role as one of the angels on Charlie’s Angels. She turned down the role because she disliked the show. Priscilla made her television debut as co-host of Those Amazing Animals in 1980. In 1983, she got her first chance to act professionally on a season 2 episode of The Fall Guy titled “Manhunter”. She then found a role in a television film titled Love is Forever, starring alongside Michael Landon. Although she was treated well by most of the cast and crew, and her acting was praised by several of her co-stars, she found Landon difficult to work with on set. After the television film aired, Presley landed the role of Jenna Wade on the popular prime-time soap opera Dallas. She played the role of Wade for five years, leaving the show in 1988 to focus on other parts.
Presley has appeared in a few feature film roles, most notably in 1988 when she starred opposite Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! as Jane Spencer. Presley would go on to act in the next two movies in the series: The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994). All three films were solid at the box office. In the late 1990s, she was a special guest star on the television series Melrose Place, Touched by an Angel, and Spin City
Presley made her pantomime debut in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the New Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon, London, Christmas 2012, starring opposite Warwick Davis. Presley said she was “delighted” by the opportunity, which she described as an “honor”.
Presley reprised her role as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House in Manchester, Christmas 2014.
Charity work and activism
Since 2003, Presley has been the Ambassador of the Dream Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based wish-granting organization for terminally ill adults and their families.
Presley is a devoted member of the Church of Scientology, and speaks publicly for the religion’s anti-psychiatry front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
In 2013, Presley spoke out against the Tennessee Ag-Gag Bill in a letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Presley cited her and Elvis’ love of horses and expressed her concern that the bill would hinder animal cruelty investigations and reduce protections for horses and other farm animals.
Romantically, Presley has had a number of serious relationships since her divorce in 1973. Immediately afterwards, she lived with karate instructor Mike Stone. She then had a six-year live-in relationship with actor and model Mike Edwards, until he began developing feelings for the teenaged Lisa Marie. Edwards recounts the tale of their relationship in his book Priscilla, Elvis and Me (1988).
Presley’s longest relationship has been with Italian screenwriter-director Marco Garibaldi, with whom she lived for 22 years. Their son, Navarone, was born on March 1, 1987. In 2006, they ended their relationship. She was later rumored to be dating Nigel Lythgoe, from 2006 to 2009.
Presley, who is single, said in a December 2012 interview that “L.A. is a very difficult town to find someone, because people are too fickle and they have other agendas.”
|1983||Love Is Forever||Sandy Redford||TV film|
|1983||The Fall Guy||Sabrina Coldwell||Episode: “Manhunter”|
|1983–88||Dallas||Jenna Wade||Series regular, 143 episodes
Soap Opera Digest Award for New Actress in a Prime Time Soap Opera (1984)
|1988||The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!||Jane Spencer|
|1990||The Adventures of Ford Fairlane||Colleen Sutton|
|1991||The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear||Jane Spencer||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss|
|1993||Tales from the Crypt||Gina||Episode: “Oil’s Well That Ends Well”|
|1994||Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult||Jane Spencer|
|1996||Melrose Place||Nurse Benson||3 episodes|
|1997||Touched by an Angel||Dr. Meg Saulter||Episode: “Labor of Love”|
|1998||Breakfast with Einstein||Keelin||TV film|
|1999||Spin City||Aunt Marie Paterno||2 episodes|
|1999||Hayley Wagner, Star||Sue Wagner||TV film|