Presley curse: Inside family’s struggles after Lisa Marie’s death

The “Presley family curse” has made its way to the fore yet again following the tragic death of Lisa Marie Presley aged 54.

Lisa Marie – the only child of Elvis Presley and the sole heir to his Graceland estate – went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital on Friday morning.

Her mother Priscilla Presley, 77, confirmed her death a few hours later.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” Priscilla confirmed in a statement to People.

“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. At this time there will be no further comment.”

It’s the latest devastating update for the Presleys, who have been plagued by a string of horrible tragedies over the years.

Lisa Marie, who has had four children, was the family figure rocked by the highest number of traumatic setbacks, starting with her parents’ divorce when she was just five years old, and the 1977 death of her father, the king of rock n roll.

Lisa Marie found Elvis’s body

Elvis, then 42, checked on a then nine-year-old Lisa Marie in her bedroom at his Graceland mansion at 4am on August 16, 1977. He found her awake and out of her bed.

“I was supposed to be asleep, actually. He found me,” Lisa Marie previously said, according to Radar Online.

Helping his only child into bed, Elvis gave her a kiss on the forehead.

“That was the last time I saw him alive,” Lisa Marie said.

The Suspicious Minds singer was set to fly out of Memphis the next evening for a tour kicking off in Portland, Oregon. But his lifeless body was found by his then-girlfriend Ginger Alden on the bathroom floor on the afternoon of August 16.

Lisa Marie, who has said she saw her father face down on carpet next to the toilet, recalled calling Elvis’s former girlfriend, Linda Thompson.

“My daddy’s dead! He’s smothered in the carpet!” she recalled saying to Thompson.

Lisa Marie has rarely opened up about the day her father died. In a 2003 interview with Playboy, the singer said she “avoids” the topic “in all interviews”.

“It’s not something I like to capitalise on, particularly for people’s amusement,” she said.

“It’s not that I don’t like talking about him. And, yes, I could set the record straight. It’s just that I’m uncomfortable with divulging anything about him, because people have done that for so long to capitalise on it. I hate those people so much. It’s against my moral code to get attention by discussing him.”

Four failed marriages

Lisa Marie’s first marriage was to Chicago musician Danny Keough, with whom she remained close even after their split.

The pair were married in 1988 and had two children together, daughter Riley, 33, and son Benjamin, who was aged 27 at the time of his death in 2020.

Just three weeks after her divorce from Keough, Lisa Marie tied the knot with Michael Jackson in 1994, whom she had known since she was six.

The King of Pop’s unlikely union with the daughter of Elvis came as Jackson was facing unprecedented scrutiny about his private life — namely, his string of close friendships with little boys.

The pair later raised eyebrows for their joint interview with journalist Diane Sawyer in June 1995, where Sawyer was upfront with Jackson about his child sex abuse allegations.

“What is a 36-year-old man doing sleeping with a 12-year-old boy — or a series of them?” she asked Jackson.

“I’ve never invited anyone into my bed — ever. Children love me; they follow me.”

Lisa Marie, who was a singer and released four albums in her life, defended her husband in a statement that garnered controversy, telling Sawyer that she’d seen the children he surrounds himself with.

“They don’t even let him go to the bathroom without running in there with him … when he jumps in the bed, I’m even out. He jumps in there with them,” Presley said.

The marriage ultimately didn’t last – Lisa Marie filed for divorce in early 1996 citing “irreconcilable differences”, and noted in her filing that they had actually separated in December 1995, shortly after Jackson had been hospitalised after a collapse and the couple had argued.

Despite their split, the pair maintained in a friendship up until Jackson’s death in 2009, which Lisa Marie was reportedly “shattered” about.

Following their divorce, Lisa Marie was briefly engaged to musician John Oszajca, but broke off the engagement after meeting US actor Nicholas Cage at a party. Lisa Marie and Cage wed in August 2002, before Cage filed for divorce just three months later.

“I’m sad about this, but we shouldn’t have been married in the first place. It was a big mistake,” Lisa Marie said in a statement at the time.

Child porn claims against fourth husband

Lisa Marie’s fourth marriage was to Michael Lockwood, her guitarist, in 2006.

The pair welcomed twin girls in 2008 – Harper and Finley – before Lisa Marie filed for divorce in 2016.

As part of their messy divorce proceedings, Lisa Marie alleged in 2017 that she found “hundreds” of child pornography images on Lockwood’s personal computer. Their daughters were also taken into state custody at the time.

“I was shocked and horrified and sick to my stomach,” Lisa Marie wrote in the papers.

Lockwood vehemently denied the claims, and it appears the case has since been dropped.

Their divorce was finalised in mid-2021, and the duo finally reached a private settlement over child support in October 2022.

Son’s devastating death

Lisa Marie’s only son, Benjamin Keough, took his own life in July 2020. He was 27.

The coroner found Benjamin had alcohol and cocaine in his system. He did not leave a note.

In a first person piece she wrote for People last year, Lisa Marie wrote how she’d been living in a “horrific reality” following her son’s death, and shared how she was handling the grief.

“Death is part of life whether we like it or not,” Lisa Marie wrote in the emotional essay.

“Grief is incredibly lonely. Despite people coming in the heat of the moment to be there for you right after the loss takes place, they soon disappear and go on with their own lives and they kind of expect for you to do the same, especially after some time has passed.”

She described how she “beat myself up tirelessly and chronically”, and blamed herself “every single day”.

“The unrelenting reality is that you are FORCED into this horrendous ‘club’, if you will, that you never wanted to be in or a part of, and you are FORCED to then, for lack of a better term, have to go and find your new people now.”

Lisa Marie said she “keeps going for my girls”.

“My and my three daughters’ lives as we knew it were completely detonated and destroyed by his death. We live in this every. Single. Day,” Lisa Marie added.

“I’m saying all this in the hopes that I can help raise awareness on grief and loss.”

Financial turmoil

In 1993, on her 25th birthday, Lisa Marie became the sole heir to her father’s estate, which was worth around $US100 million when she inherited it.

But instead of receiving the fortune, Lisa Marie appointed others to act as trustees over her inheritance, appointing business manager Barry Siegel as a co-trustee in 2003 to be the person primarily in charge of managing the trust assets as well as her own income.

In 2018 court documents, Lisa Marie alleged that Siegel assured her that her finances were in “good shape” – however, claimed he whittled her lucrative trust down to just $US14,000.

In 2019, her mother Priscilla was forced to sell her Los Angeles mansion to help out her daughter with her mounting debts.

“Priscilla would never have done this if she didn’t believe it was her daughter’s last chance,” a source told RadarOnline of the $US5.5 million sale at the time.

Elvis, who was known as a generous and free spender while he was alive, left behind a cash-poor estate on his death, worth about $US5 million, according to Forbes, and with a mountain of debt.

Priscilla managed to bolster that figure significantly after his death when she assumed management of the Elvis Presley Estate (EPE), helping grow its value to an estimated $US100 million, largely thanks to Graceland’s success as a tourist destination.

Despite losing most of her trust as of 2018, things appeared to be getting better for Lisa Marie on the financial front.

Lisa Marie struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic when Graceland was forced to close for two years, but it was reported that her trust was now making her up to $US100,000 per month in income, per Lockwood’s child support filings last year.

Lockwood also claimed in the filing Lisa Marie was making a hefty profit for her involvement in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 Elvis biopic.

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