Priscilla Presley Reflected on ‘Shocking’ Death of Elvis

by Allison Hambrick

Priscilla Presley, former wife of Elvis, revealed how she felt after her ex-husband’s surprising death at the age of 42.

“You never thought of him passing away because he was so strong,” said Priscilla. “He would sometimes check himself into the hospital because he wanted to get away from everyone. He didn’t want the demands, he didn’t want the phone calls, so I thought it was one of those times. I thought, no it can’t be… this is a joke, it just cannot be. It was shocking—like [it was] to the rest of the world, but a million times more.”

While the two divorced in 1972, Priscilla shared that she never stopped loving Elvis. Though they both went through other relationships, she said their separation was not because they didn’t care about each other.

“I didn’t divorce him because I didn’t love him. He was the love of my life, truly. If anything, I left because I needed to find out what the world was like. The greatest thing about our relationship was that we still loved each other.”

The couple’s marriage only lasted five years, but they met about eight years prior, when Priscilla was only 14. Their relationship was tumultuous with numerous affairs, a strained work schedule, and passionate arguments. Even so, their love remains iconic.

How Elvis Presley’s Other Girlfriend Learned of His Passing

While Priscilla was Elvis’s only wife, he had a number of romantic partners in his lifetime, many of whom outlived him. Learning of his death shocked the entire world, but these women lost more than a favorite musician, they lost someone they loved.

Ann-Margret famously recalled knowing Elvis was dead because he didn’t send her flowers on an opening night. Linda Thompson, however, had a more tragic story. She found out about his death when she received a call from his daughter, Lisa-Marie.

“I said, ‘hello’ and she said, ‘Linda.’ I said, ‘hey’, she said, ‘It’s Lisa.’ I said, ‘I know who this is, you little goobernickel.’ It was a pet name Elvis and I had for her,” Thompson recalled. “She said, ‘My daddy’s dead, my daddy’s dead.’”

After hearing the tragic news, Thompson, like Priscilla, had a hard time believing Elvis was gone. She felt herself go numb from the shock.

“I can’t even tell you what I felt, I was stunned and paralyzed. I said, ‘What? No, he’s not,’” Elvis’s former girlfriend said. “She said, ‘Yes he is, yes he is. He’s dead.’ The only thing that brought it to reality was when she said, ‘He’s smothered in the carpet.’ And when she said that, I just threw the phone because I thought, ‘Ok, he’s gone. That’s it. Nobody checked on him.’”