Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, has passed away at the age of 54.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must share the terrible news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,” Priscilla Presley said in a statement to The Associated Press. “She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.”
A statement sent to the US TODAY on behalf of Priscilla and the Presley family expressed shock at “the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie. They are immensely grateful for everyone’s support, love and prayers, and ask for privacy at this very difficult time.”
Presley had started the week in a celebratory mood, first celebrating with fans what would have been her father’s 88th birthday at Elvis’ home in Memphis, Graceland, and later applauding with her mother as Austin Butler received a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic ‘Elvis’.
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But on Thursday, she went into apparent cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, just north of Los Angeles, and was taken to a local hospital, according to TMZ, the first to report the news. She died hours later.
Although Presley was famous from the moment she was born and was a singer in her own right, releasing three albums, she really jumped into the pop culture vortex with her surprise marriage to controversial pop superstar Michael Jackson and, later, Elvis lover and actor Nicholas Cage. .
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Both marriages were short-lived, though more lasting unions produced four children, including her son Benjamin Keough, who committed suicide in 2020 and was buried at Graceland.
Presley, in particular, with her closed eyes and smoldering looks unmistakably reminiscent of Elvis, became largely known as custodian of his estate and heir to his estate.
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Lisa Marie Presley recently celebrated Elvis’ 88th birthday with fans at Graceland
Four days before her death, Presley was at Graceland to help fans celebrate what would have been her father’s 88th birthday.
“It’s been a while. I’ve missed you,” she told the crowd on Sunday. “I keep saying you’re the only people who can get me out of my house. I’m not kidding.”
Two nights ago, Butler thanked her from the Golden Globes stage for her dedication to honoring her father.
“Thank you for opening your hearts, your memories, your homes to me,” he told the Presleys in his acceptance speech. “Lisa Marie, Priscilla, I love you forever.”
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Lisa Marie Presley grew up in the shadow of her father’s fame—her name even appeared on his jet—until her parents’ divorce in 1973. She seemed destined for a life in the public eye, thanks to looks that matched that of her father and a remarkable singing voice to match.
Despite being the only child of a global icon, Presley occasionally seemed to wonder what all the fuss about her was about.
“I thought it was a funny idea, but I didn’t really see how other people would find it interesting,” she told USA TODAY in 2012, discussing a new exhibit at Graceland called “Elvis…Through His Daughter’s Eyes .”
Among the more touching personal effects were a blue record player that played her first 45s, her footprints on a hospital birth certificate, and a re-creation of Presley’s nursery. “It’s all so personal and subjective,” she said. “But it turned out okay.”
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Her shocking marriage to Michael Jackson
She made waves in pop culture in 1994 when she divorced musician Danny Keough, the father of her children Riley and Benjamin, and married Jackson. They divorced less than two years later, though Presley remained a staunch defender of child molestation allegations against the star for many years.
She married Cage in 2002, but that was only a few months before they split. In 2006, she married guitarist Michael Lockwood; they divorced in 2021 and have twin daughters together, Finley and Harper, 11.
If Presley found solace in the midst of the storm that she was Elvis’ only child, it was abroad in Kent, a rural English suburb southeast of London that claimed much of her time and heart about a decade ago.
Speaking to USA TODAY in 2012 before the release of her “Storm & Grace” album, Presley said she was eager to return to her non-celebrity life in England.
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“I just love it there,” she said. “I garden, take long walks, cook. I have really nice neighbors – we often meet at the local pub. Not that we can keep up with them there. It’s so much fun though, you see everyone from the village there.”
In that same interview, Presley shared that she felt emotionally and fiscally deprived by her closest confidants.
“I slowly started destroying myself and I didn’t know where that came from,” Presley told USA TODAY, suggesting the damage was both personal and professional. “I was given bad advice. I was isolated with no grip on reality. They took my soul, my money, my everything.”
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Presley’s demons also include drug addiction. In 2019, she described her dependence on opioids in a foreword to the book “The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain.”
Noting that she was “grateful to be alive,” Presley said the painkillers prescribed after the birth of her twins eventually led to outright addiction.
“It is a difficult path to overcome this dependence and get my life back on track,” she wrote. “Even in recent years, I’ve seen too many people I loved struggle with addiction and die tragically from this epidemic. It’s time we say goodbye to addiction shame. We need to stop giving ourselves and those around us the blaming and condemning. … That starts with sharing our stories.”
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Presley would face a different kind of pain in 2020, when her 27-year-old son committed suicide. Last fall, in honor of National Grief Awareness Day, Presley wrote an essay for People about the pain her family has been dealing with since the death of her son.
“My lives and those of my three daughters as we knew them were completely exploded and devastated by his death. We live in this every. Single. Bye,” she wrote. “Grief is something you have to carry with you for the rest of your life, despite what some people or our culture would have us believe. You can’t get over it, you can’t move on, period.”
In the end, Presley might have found the peace she’d been searching for all her life, if only she could have spent more time in the place she truly called home.
“I love Graceland,” she told USA TODAY in 2012. “My heart will always be there.”
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