The King of Rock and Roll may be dead but his queen is still alive, kicking, and making a fortune. If the latest estimates are to be believed, Priscilla Presley is currently sat on the very respectable fortune of $60 million. How did she make it? For a start, she married Elvis Presley. That was always going to help. But that was 54 years ago. So, what has Priscilla been up to in the years since to have made her so very, very wealthy aside from her musician husband? Find out for yourself as we uncover how Priscilla Presley achieved a net worth of $60 million.
You can’t talk about Priscilla Presley and not mention Elvis in the same breath. The two are as intertwined in the cultural consciousness as Bonnie and Clyde, Siegfried & Roy, and Laurel and Hardy. They were a unit, the ultimate power couple, the most talked-about celebrity pairing in Hollywood. Well, until the divorce came through, anyway. Elvis met Priscilla on September 13, 1959. He was 21 years old. She was 14. It shouldn’t have worked. These days, it wouldn’t be allowed to. But this was the 1950s. The two quickly became smitten. By the time Elvis left for military duty in West Germany, they were a couple.
When Elvis returned to the US, Priscilla’s parents allowed her to visit him for two weeks on the provision Elvis paid for a first-class round trip. They also stipulated that the couple should be chaperoned at all times and that Priscilla should write home every day. The visit proved successful: shortly after, Priscilla moved to Memphis to be with Elvis full time. But then the trouble started. Although Priscilla was keen to follow Elvis to Los Angeles when he was shooting films, Elvis insisted that she stay in Memphis. The reason soon became apparent when Elvis’ affair with his “Viva Las Vegas” co-star, Ann-Margret, hit the gossip rags. Elvis brushed off the news, telling Priscilla that she shouldn’t believe everything she read. Priscilla stayed, and for the next few years, Elvis enjoyed several intimate relationships with his co-stars in impunity.
Despite his habit of continuing his on-screen relationships off-screen, Elvis and Priscilla stayed together. Just before Christmas 1966, Elvis proposed. Whether he proposed out of love or because Priscilla’s father was threatening to charge him under the Mann Act for transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes remains unclear. What we do know is the Priscilla said yes and on May 1, 1967, they married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. The wedding ceremony was short (just 8 minutes in total) and attended by the bare minimum of guests. The early days of their married life were blissful, at least for Priscilla. In Peter Guralnick’s biography, “Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley”, Priscilla says “I loved playing house.” Soon after, Priscilla became pregnant. Their first and only child, Lisa Marie, was born nine months to the day after their wedding ceremony. While Lisa Marie’s birth should have been a joyous occasion, it spelled the end for Elvis and Priscilla. Priscilla began an affair with her dance instructor, and Elvis continued to have dalliances with his leading ladies. By the early 1970s, the relationship had soured beyond repair.
On July 26, 1972, Elvis and Priscilla filed for legal separation. Their divorce was finalized on October 9, 1973. According to Wikipedia, Priscilla was awarded an upfront cash payment of $725,000 along with spousal and child support, five percent of Elvis’ new publishing rights, and half the income from the sale of their LA home. Despite their separation, the couple remained friends. On the day their divorce was granted, they were even pictured leaving the courthouse hand in hand.
The Move to Acting
During her time with Elvis, several Hollywood producers expressed an interest in signing Priscilla. But Elvis was old-fashioned, and the thought of having a wife with a career pushed his southern comfort limits to breaking point. With their divorce, Priscilla was free to start pursuing her own agenda. In 1980, she made her TV debut as the co-host of “Those Amazing Animals.” Three years later, she got to show off her acting chops for the first time in an episode of “The Fall Guy.” Shortly after, she became the third and longest-serving actress to take on the role of Jenny Wade in “Dallas.” Shortly after leaving “Dallas,” Priscilla took her talents to the big screen when she starred opposite Leslie Nielsen in “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” The film proved a success, as did Priscilla. She subsequently went on to appear in two more movies from the franchise: “The Naked Gun 2 1⁄2: The Smell of Fear” (1991) and “Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult” (1994). Other acting credits include appearances in “Touched by an Angel,” “Melrose Place,” and “Spin City.”
After her split from Elvis, Priscilla turned her hand to numerous business ventures. Some, such as her clothing boutique Bis & Beau, proved short-lived. Others have flourished. While her range of perfumes and home linens have generated a healthy income, it’s her efforts to keep Elvis’ legacy alive that have proved the most successful… and the most lucrative. When Graceland started to suck up more money than it was worth, Priscilla started to investigate how other famous homes and museums made their money. In 1982, she made the decision to open its doors to the public. It was a gamble, but within just a few short months, it was clear she’d made the right decision. Since then, Priscilla has overseen numerous ventures that have not only built on Elvis’ legacy, but that have turned a healthy profit as well. Whether it’s postal stamps, albums, or even cartoons (watch out for the upcoming series “Agent King,” an adult animated fictional series that, according to netflix.com, sees Elvis trade in his jumpsuit for a jet pack when he enlists in a government spy program), if it’s suitable to bear the King’s name, Priscilla is the one to make sure it does.
Unlike many celebrity couplings, there’s never really been a suggestion that Priscilla married Elvis for money. Over time, she’s proved to be many things – an actress, a go-getting businesswoman, a lover of cosmetic procedures – but she didn’t fit the mold of a golddigger in the 1960s and she certainly doesn’t now. It may have been her marriage that propelled her to fame, but it’s her own achievements as an actress and businesswoman that have kept her there. The king may be dead, but his queen is still making money hand over fist on her own terms.