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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Priscilla Presley
Aired June 22, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive: She married Elvis Presley, the king, when she was 21, became the mother of his only child, Lisa Marie. She's going to open up about the American legend who'd be 70 years old if he was still with us.
And a lot more, too.
A rare one-on-one with Priscilla Presley and we'll take your calls, too.
Next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
There's a threefold publication out. We have the book "Elvis by the Presleys: Intimate Stories from Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley and other family members." That's a companion to the CBS special of the same title. There's also a longer-form documentary, a DVD and a related C.D.. There you see all three.
Priscilla Presley, always great to see you.
PRISCILLA PRESLEY, WIFE OF ELVIS PRESLEY: Thank you.
Is it hard to look at him or is it over now?
PRESLEY: Oh, gosh. No, it's not hard to look at him, I mean, he was gorgeous, obviously. You know, I -- it's -- it can be tough, but, you know, I've seen a lot of him lately. This has a year-and-a-half in the making.
KING: Tell me about this project.
PRESLEY: Well, this is the book. This is the companion to the DVD "Elvis by the Presleys," and this is the book that goes with it. It has a lot of things in it that may be not in the documentary or is expressed further. We have a lot of pictures from the archives that, you know, that meant a lot to Elvis. It's his history of things that he loved, things that he liked. I mean, from badges that he collected, from the books that he had in his room. All of the things that we took out of archives.
KING: Who are the Presleys who contributed?
PRESLEY: Well, there's, of course, myself, Lisa and Elvis' double first-cousin Patsy Presley, who was his -- two sisters married two brothers, so she was like a sister to him, and my mother and father -- first time ever been interviewed.
My sister is in it. My brother-in-law is in it. So, we -- first time ever being, you know, being interviewed or talked about. So, it's pretty special.
KING: You've always been private about it. Why now?
PRESLEY: That's a great question and I have been asked this. You know, this was not easy to do. This was something that Lisa and I discussed doing only when we started realizing so many younger kids were coming to Graceland asking questions: Who was Elvis?
We take it for granted that we all grew up with him. We all, you know, knew who he was and what he contributed with his talent, but these kids really wanted to know, you know: Who is Elvis? And I think that prompted us to look at that and go: Gosh...
KING: No one knew him better then.
Was it hard for you?
PRESLEY: It was difficult. It was very difficult. It was a year-and-a-half in the making and you know, talking about things that I haven't talked about in a long time, only within family members. A lot of home movies that were, you know, haven't -- actually I haven't seen in a long time. The book was a very sensitive project because, you know, it was all of us having different interviews, just like in the DVD. It really -- was really a compilation of all of us getting together and expressing our thoughts.
KING: Cathartic, in a way?
PRESLEY: Very. Very much so.
KING: Once done: Kind of a release?
PRESLEY: You know, I think at this time in my life, in doing this project and looking at it, I came away with: My God, now we all know why he was meant to be, why he was who he was.
KING: Well, it's an extraordinary production. A great presentation that you put together -- CBS, the whole DVD, the whole concept.
Let's get into some things. First, the obvious, your reaction to the Jackson acquittal.
PRESLEY: Oh, you're going to go there?
KING: No, I won't press it. Your former son-in-law.
PRESLEY: You know, I don't know, Larry. That's was -- that's something that, you know, I wasn't, obviously, in the courtroom. I really don't have a whole lot to say about it, because there's certainly a lot of rumors and certainly a lot of gossip. We all have our own thoughts and you know, he came out and obviously, I think the jury did a good job. You could see they truly wanted to do a good job. It was on this particular case and they stressed it that it was about one case.
KING: Were you rooting for him?
PRESLEY: Oh, gosh. I hate to see anybody suffering and it was hard to see him suffer. I know that I'm sure, you know, going through what he went through and sitting down, having to listen and face people who betrayed you is very, very difficult, if that's the case.
You know, he's very talented. There is no doubt.
KING: One other thing: Were you close to him, during your daughter's marriage?
PRESLEY: I was not that close to him, you know. Michael was very private.
PRESLEY: Very, very private and had people that he was comfortable with. He wasn't around that much, really. Even around my daughter that much and he was off doing his things.
KING: Why does Elvis --
PRESLEY: Let me just point -- he was off doing recording -- just clarify that.
KING: Lest that be taken the wrong way and played on the comedy tonight.
PRESLEY: No. He was, you know, making records.
KING: Why is Elvis still a magnet?
PRESLEY: Well you have to read the book.
KING: But he's dead longer than he was famous.
PRESLEY: True, but that certainly goes to show you the talent that he had and how people certainly related to him.
KING: Related to him how? He was better looking than them, he was more talented than them.
PRESLEY: Well, he had everything.
KING: But they associated with him.
PRESLEY: They, meaning?
KING: The public.
PRESLEY: He had the package, he had everything. He had good looks. He had style, he, you know, he had a voice. He had a wonderful sensitivity. He loved his fans, you know, he was the first, you know? I can't really, you know -- I can't really, you know -- when you listen to his songs and you see, and hear how he sang those songs you can honestly feel like that he was singing them to you.
KING: Where were you when he died?
PRESLEY: I was in L.A.
KING: Who told you?
PRESLEY: My sister told me that, you know, Joe Esposito was trying to reach me desperately and I sensed something when I walked out my door that day. I -- it just...
KING: Really? You mean before the call?
PRESLEY: Yes. Before the call. I wrote it in my book that I walked out and it was a very dreary-type of day. My daughter was in Memphis. In fact, she was supposed to come home that day. Elvis was getting ready.
KING: She was what, nine.
PRESLEY: Yes. She was nine. She was going to come home and he was going to go on a tour. So, my first thought was about my daughter, you know, but then, it just was a very eerie feeling that was in the air. That's also in the book, I think.
KING: Yes, I know. You've gone on with your life though, right?
PRESLEY: Yes, but he was still very much a part of my life; but yes, I was trying to make a life of my own.
KING: Was it a friendly -- in a sense were you friends?
PRESLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely, we were friends.
KING: Talked a lot?
PRESLEY: All of the time. All of the time. You know, he was great that way. I mean, Elvis was, you know -- obviously we shared a daughter together, but he would come over, he would bring books that he just discovered and start, you know, reading to me passages out of the book or there was a song he wanted me to hear, you know, that he was getting ready to record or he was in numerology; which is a thing that he loved was "Book of Numbers." You know, he would start reading out all of the numbers and he would come over at various times and -- sure. KING: Our guest is Priscilla Presley. The book is "Elvis by the Presleys." There are compendium DVDs and the like.
And we'll be right back.
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PRESLEY: He liked dressing up. He loved to dress up. He'd be in a three-piece suit, brocade vest, ruffle shirt or just sometimes, the pants, the shirt and the vest, but all of the time dressed up.
LISA MARIE PRESLEY, DAUGHTER OF ELVIS PRESLEY: I don't think he ever not looked cool. He had a thing about always looking good and always dressing good, which I did not inherit from him.
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PRESLEY: When he did the '68 Elvis comeback special, that was a validation that he was still popular and people still wanted him.
ELVIS PRESLEY, MUSICIAN: Well, I've got to do this sooner or later so I might as well do it now, baby.
PRESLEY: Steve Bender was the director and worked with him on, Elvis being Elvis, really, just who he is, no preconceptions, no trying to be or do -- just do what you do best and being yourself.
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KING: Did you -- do you run the Graceland estate?
PRESLEY: Well, you know, we just partnered with Bob -- Robert Silverman, and they're now actually taking it and taking us to levels where we had hoped to be, you know, at this time.
KING: Are you still involved?
PRESLEY: Yes. I am very much involved. Yes, I am on the board and very involved.
KING: Is Elvis an industry?
PRESLEY: It seems like it, yes. It is, but an industry, you know, not -- I wouldn't say corporate to where there's no hands-on and care. It's very different in that way because Lisa and I are still very much involved and family are involved.
KING: Big in England, right?
PRESLEY: Very big in England.
KING: His records, number one recently, number one. PRESLEY: Yes. The book is still right there in the -- right there in the -- doing well in numbers.
KING: What was the importance of Graceland to him?
PRESLEY: Oh, it was everything. Graceland was -- he just couldn't wait to get home to Graceland after he did a movie or any time he was away from it very long. It was his comfort zone. It was where he felt best and where he felt himself.
KING: I've interviewed other women who loved him -- Linda Thompson, others -- and none of them seemed to be bothered by the fact that he was a carouser. They all say -- they all say the same -- he was Elvis.
KING: You feel the same way?
PRESLEY: You know, Larry, if I was Elvis, I wouldn't know how to handle it. I mean, he had women -- I've often thought about that. He had women throw themselves at him from the time he, you know, started out in the business a young kid, growing up with it and -- how he handled it, I don't know. I just don't know. It's, you know...
KING: How did you handle it?
PRESLEY: It was difficult for me. There's no doubt. It was very difficult.
KING: You divorced him.
PRESLEY: I did. Yes, it was difficult. It was not going to change. That was for sure. I had a daughter. I had a lot of things to think about. I had to look at, really, and put things in perspective. I mean, we were always close, but it was something that was difficult to deal with.
KING: You weren't angry?
PRESLEY: I couldn't change it. I couldn't change it. You know, he -- we say in the documentary...
KING: So, you loved him?
PRESLEY: I loved him. I loved him. What was not to love? He was just a great human being.
KING: He was a good guy?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh, yes.
KING: Someone told me that you'll never hear -- Jackie Gleason said, never heard a bad word about him.
PRESLEY: No, he was a great human being. He really and truly was. He had a great sense of humor. He had wonderful compassion. He was sincere. He -- I mean, he was just -- you know, and he had a temper, you know, like everyone, but his temper was -- you didn't want to be around him when he had his temper tantrums, but he was just a good guy.
KING: He contributed to Martin Luther King.
PRESLEY: He contributed, yes.
KING: He recorded "In the Ghetto." Way ahead of his time in the civil rights piece.
KING: The colonel didn't want him to do it, right?
PRESLEY: No, but, you know, that was part of Elvis and he was very charitable in many, many, many ways with -- not just organizations, but individuals. He had a lot of compassion and, you know, it was really about that, that he was in the business. I mean, I really feel that the fact that he could give back and was able to give back, he loved.
KING: Loved the stage, right?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh. I mean, that was -- you know, he was at home on stage.
KING: What was the effect of Gladys, his mother, on him?
PRESLEY: A very big effect. I mean, he had a very close bond with his mother. I mean, she was the light of his life.
KING: How did it affect you?
PRESLEY: You know, I never met his mother. I heard -- I felt like I knew her. He told me about her when I was, well, 14 years old, when I met him in Germany. He told me about her, her personality, a very strong personality. She pretty well ruled the house but they, you know, they were always battling it out and they said what they said, you know, up front with eachother. There was no holds barred with them.
KING: Your father was in the service, right?
PRESLEY: Right, yes.
KING: Stationed in Germany, right? How did you meet him, actually, physically, meet him?
PRESLEY: Well, I was there only three weeks, actually.
KING: And he was in the Army?
PRESLEY: He was -- yes. He was about -- stationed about 45 minutes away from where I was in Lisbon and I used to go to this place called the Eagles Club where servicemen and their families would go. They had, you know, a restaurant, a cafeteria.
KING: You went with your father and mother.
PRESLEY: I'd go there every day for lunch. It was in walking distance from where we were staying, and there was a guy...
KING: You were going to school?
PRESLEY: Pardon me?
KING: Were you -- school?
PRESLEY: I hadn't gone -- yes. I was just going into the ninth grade and I was there and this -- the guy who was a serviceman came over to me and he saw me writing letters every day, you know, to my friends back home and he and his wife would go on weekends to see Elvis and he asked me if I wanted to join him. First, he asked me if I liked Elvis and I said, who doesn't like him, and then I told him I had to ask my parents first to see if it was OK. My parents came and met him and, you know, it was just very civilized, very -- you know, a very different time than today.
KING: Was there an attraction by a 14-year-old?
PRESLEY: Well, I didn't know, you know...
KING: You didn't know what love is.
PRESLEY: Not at all. I mean, I was just happy to be there, happy to meet him, never thinking it was going to go anywhere, ever. So, you know, we chatted and had a really good time talking.
KING: When did -- at what age did it go somewhere?
PRESLEY: Well, we kept our relationship going even when he came back to the States. I was left there because, of course, my father had to fulfill his duty.
KING: So he wrote and called.
PRESLEY: He didn't write. He sent 45s, but he would call a lot. He would send 45s to me, songs that, you know, were actually quite cute. "Take Good Care of Her," I don't know, there were so many.
KING: When did you know you were in love?
PRESLEY: I was falling in love, definitely falling in love, and then our conversations, our telephone conversations, were very lengthy telephone conversations, and you have to remember back then, too, you had to have an operator to connect you.
PRESLEY: You know, you couldn't just pick up the telephone.
KING: No direct dial. PRESLEY: And then they would call you back and they would say, you know, your call has come through, and he'd call about 2:00 in the morning and I'd still have school the next day, so I'd be up til 4:00, 4:30.
KING: What'd your family think?
PRESLEY: They couldn't figure out what we were talking about. They couldn't figure out what it is -- what would he be talking to me about? But he, you know, he was very personable, very -- he liked to talk. He talked about his problems. He would talk about the director. He would talk about the movie. He would talk about the songs he had to sing in the movie. So, I was an ear for him, I guess.
KING: We'll be right back with the extraordinary saga of Priscilla Presley, a terrific talent in her own right and a very, very good actress who was hysterical in the "Naked Gun" moves, drop-dead hysterical. We'll be right back.
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LESLIE NIELSON, ACTOR: Why are you here.
PRESLEY: I remembered something about the crime. As I was looking out the window I saw a red van parked across the street.
NIELSON: Red van. Oh, thank you. That will be very helpful. So you said your piece, you can go now, right.
PRESLEY: That's not my only reason for being here. Frank, I want us to be friends.
NIELSON: Sure. Friends. But if I dusted you for prints right now they would be your lover boy Quentin Hapsberg's (ph)
PRESLEY: Oh, you!
NIELSON: Well, I see a certain kitten still knows how scratch.
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KING: Always funny. I've watched it a hundred times, it's always fun.
PRESLEY: Oh, I miss those shows.
KING: Fun to do?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh yes. Leslie was great to work with.
KING: When it was love and it was time to tell your parents, how old were you and how did you handle it?
PRESLEY: Well, you know, you have to remember this happened over time.
KING: I know.
PRESLEY: It didn't just happen overnight.
KING: But there was a time you decided to let's get married. .
PRESLEY: Yes, it was when. Well, I was already living in Memphis at the time. And there were, you know, definitely there were times when we talked to my mother about possibly getting married. But we didn't really -- you know, we didn't really say anything. I called her up when Elvis asked you know, me to marry him and it was all very, very private, no one could know. Obviously, it was a bit of a circus, that was the main concern for everyone was that it would be a circus and that's what we didn't want.
So we rushed off to Vegas. And, you know, it was very romantic at the time, actually. Now everyone does it, but back then it was very exciting.
KING: Married in a Vegas hotel?
PRESLEY: Yes, the Aladdin. .
KING: Was he a good husband at the start?
PRESLEY: Elvis was a good husband. I don't know if he knew how to be a husband. But he was as good a husband as the king of rock 'n' roll could be. You know?
KING: Given that.
PRESLEY: Yes, you know. You have to remember our life wasn't the normal life. We had, you know, we had all of the guys that was around Elvis. You know, he had already developed a lifestyle, you know.
KING: Friends were important.
PRESLEY: Friends were very important. People around him were very important. He created his own life with all of the guys around him and the guys' wives. We would go everywhere together. We did everything together as a group.
KING: Stayed up late.
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh. There was no sleep. We were awake all night long and slept during the day.
KING: All right. Now the coming of Lisa Marie. What kind of father was he?
PRESLEY: He was a good dad. He was as good a dad as he could be. You have to remember, he was gone but yet he would call. He would call her. She actually went with him on tour a couple of times. We were always, you know, always together when for Christmas, you know.
KING: How did he handle money?
PRESLEY: Not well.
KING: Spent it?
PRESLEY: A lot. Yes. A lot. He just didn't put a whole lot -- he just was used to spending, but he loved to spend, not just on himself.
KING: Oh, big giver, right?
PRESLEY: He was a huge giver. And he always felt that he could make it back and he'd pick up the phone and call Colonel and, you know, "let's do something."
KING: How did he handle the low ebb in the career? There was that low ebb, right, when he was just doing moves.
PRESLEY: Yes. Not well. I mean, that was not a good time.
KING: Gained weight.
PRESLEY: Gained weight. He hated -- he got to the point where he hated movies, because they weren't the type of movies that he wanted to do.
KING: He wanted to be a serious actor.
PRESLEY: Absolutely he did.
KING: Do you think he would have been good?
PRESLEY: I think -- oh, my gosh. Look at his earlier movies, I mean, all of them were wonderful. I mean he really -- that was really what he wanted to do and that's how he saw himself. He didn't see himself, you know, with a song for every mood or, you know for every situation.
KING: Did you know about the prescription drugs?
PRESLEY: Of course. Yes.
KING: Did you try to stop him?
PRESLEY: Absolutely. But, you know, Elvis -- you know, felt that they were prescribed drugs and they were through a doctor. And back then, even today when a doctor tells you need to take a certain pill, you know or take this for sleeping you take it, it's the doctor.
KING: Did you worry about his health?
PRESLEY: I did worry about his health. Yes, especially toward the end. Everyone did. Everyone was very, very concerned about his health. KING: So that premonition was based on some fact.
KING: And he would acting funny?
PRESLEY: Just -- you know, we would see him -- you know, not well before. He would check himself -- he was known to check himself into the hospital just to get away -- you know, if he wanted to get away and relax and get away from everybody, he would check himself in for a couple of days and then come out. There were times when he wasn't feeling well, he'd go into the hospital, he'd always come out. I mean, we felt he was totally, you know -- there was just no way that he was -- nothing was ever going to happen to him. And he believed that and we all did.
KING: What was the official cause of death?
KING: Just stopped.
PRESLEY: Uh-huh. Yes. And that was, I think just abuse really. Just, I don't think he even realized how much he depended on them.
KING: What was the funeral like?
PRESLEY: My gosh, I don't think I've ever seen witnessed a funeral like that. It was -- it was unbelievable. I mean, people were all dazed, first of all, in disbelief. But to see the public, I mean, come to Graceland and line the streets. It was unbelievable the lineup of people. It was just paths and paths of people.
KING: Our guest is Priscilla Presley. The book is "Elvis By the Presleys: Intimate Stories by Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley and Other Family Members" and the companion is the CBS Special of the same title. And a longer formed documentary, it's four hour, right? The DVD and a related CD. And they're all available now everywhere books and records are sold.
We'll be back. We'll include phone calls for Priscilla Presley. Don't go away.
KING: Before we go to phone calls, Elvis and badges, what was that all about? And law enforcement?
PRESLEY: He loved law enforcement. He just...
KING: Like cops?
PRESLEY: Yes. He just, you know, he loved the power, I think of being able to have a badge, and you know, there's been times when there was somebody speeding and he'd pull them off the side of the road and he'd show his badge and, you know, tell them that they were going too fast.
KING: Stopped by Elvis.
KING: And he met with Nixon and got some kind of a award.
PRESLEY: Oh, yes, and not even an award. He got a federal agent badge and he talked him into it. That was the charm of Elvis. I mean, he could talk his way out of the paper bag. He was unbelievable.
KING: You are a Scientologist.
PRESLEY: I am.
KING: Gets you a lot of raps around. Tom Cruise takes rap for it. Why?
PRESLEY: I don't know. It's doing great, though. Business is great. Any -- you know, I think -- it's a new religion. You know, it's only 50 years old and any great religion, you know is, basically, for some reason that, you know, has a...
KING: Has it helped you?
PRESLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely.
KING: Was Elvis very much into religion?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh, yes, you know, from the time he was a very young child, he was, you know...
KING: Was he a believer?
PRESLEY: A believer in...?
KING: Did he believe in god?
PRESLEY: Oh, yes. That was really the foundation that he had -- in our families. His mother and father would go to church, the Assembly of God Church and they'd, you know, sing and it was just -- a part of his life. Absolutely.
KING: What do you think he would have thought of Scientology?
PRESLEY: Well, you know, he was interested in Scientology. He actually went in and it was very, very new back then, and you know, he -- it's -- there's a -- you know, if you saw the special, it he talked about him being in self-realization. It takes a -- it's a long process.
It's not something you just go and, you know, just attend. You have to really work on yourself and he wanted things very quickly, and when he found out he had to really work for it, you know, it was like, well, I'll come back. KING: I knew L. Ron Hubbard, so...
PRESLEY: Oh, really?
KING: I interviewed him when he wrote science-fiction books in the 60s.
PRESLEY: Oh, I didn't know that.
KING: So you're happy with Tom Cruise and his efforts on behalf?
PRESLEY: You know, if he's happy, I'm happy. It looks like he's just having...
KING: He looks like he's delirious.
PRESLEY: Which is great. You know, he's obviously found someone that's makes him very happy. She seems like sweet girl.
KING: He's a good guy. Let's go to some calls.
Oh, I want to ask you about the Broadway show, "All Shook Up." It's all Elvis music, right?
PRESLEY: It's the -- yes.
KING: But there's a story to it. It's not about Elvis.
PRESLEY: No, it's not. It's an Elvis-like character, about a guy who comes into town and just changes the whole town, you know, through the music. It's really quite captivating, and doing well.
KING: There's going to be road companies, too, I understand.
PRESLEY: I think so, yes.
KING: Do you share in the profits of that?
PRESLEY: Yes, we're involved.
KING: You're into -- to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, with Priscilla Presley, hello.
KING: Kentucky, I'm sorry.
CALLER: Have you seen the Elvis...
KING: You want to speak up? I can't hear you.
CALLER: Can you -- can you -- have you seen the Elvis exhibit at the Patton Museum showing tribute to his Army years and do you have any comment on it?
PRESLEY: You know, I'm sorry. I haven't seen that, no. I would love to see that, though. It sounds interesting.
KING: Did he like being a soldier?
PRESLEY: That was a really difficult time for him, you know, being a soldier. He'd just lost his mother. He went over to Germany and he didn't really have time to grieve, probably the best thing that happened to him because it kept him busy. He was out on maneuvers. He met a lot of great guys over there. I know that it was a memorable time and a sad time.
KING: Los Angeles, hello?
CALLER: Good evening. Priscilla, we know about Elvis' great love for his mother. My question is, do you think Elvis' life would have turned out differently had his mother been with us much longer than she had been?
PRESLEY: Yes. I think, but -- she was his guiding force. She would, you know, not too many people would speak up to Elvis. I mean, you know, he did what he wanted to do. She was the force to be dealt with.
KING: You told me when I watch this -- and I will watch this four-hour DVD -- I will see things about Elvis I could never have imagined. Give me an example.
PRESLEY: Oh, you see him at his best. You see him at play. You see the little boy in him, but you don't -- you know, you see him -- we all grew up with Elvis. We know his movies. We know his talent. We know his music, you know, and his stage presence, but you get to see Elvis, the person. You get to see him hanging out with the guys, being playful. You get to see his sense of humor. You see him as a family man. You hear him talking about things that meant something to him. So, it's a real insight into him.
KING: He would keep stadiums open all night to play ball in them, right, with his friends. Movie theaters, he'd pay to have moves shown all night.
PRESLEY: Yes. He had a great spirit of play. He had a wonderful -- I mean, he was a kid.
KING: He was a man-child.
KING: To Hutchinson, Kansas, with Priscilla Presley. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Hi, Priscilla. My question for you is, in the nearly 28 years that Elvis has been gone, I was wondering -- if he was still alive and with us, if you ever thought maybe you and him might have remarried someday?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh. That would be -- that's a difficult question to answer. I mean, I don't know. You know, both of us were -- we had a really nice, very close relationship. You know, before he died and -- we used to kid around about it, you know...
KING: Might remarry, you mean?
PRESLEY: Well, just kidding around, you know, being old and sitting in front of Graceland in rocking chairs. You know, we had two chairs out in front, and, you know, it was a fun thing to do, but -- or riding motorcycles when we're in our 80s, because we both loved to ride motorcycles.
KING: Was he a risk-taker?
PRESLEY: Oh, absolutely. Yes, he loved -- he was just a -- he would have probably done a lot more except he was under studio contracts and they wanted him to be very, very careful. You know that one, so -- but he would still do it anyway.
KING: Right back with Priscilla Presley. The book, "Elvis by the Presleys." The DVD's out too. More calls after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elvis Presley no longer has that rock 'n' roll beat. The tempo is hup, two, three, four for Private Presley. He's at Camp Chafee, Arkansas, beginning his two-year Army hitch, courtesy of the Memphis Draft Corps. Like any ex-civilian, raw recruit, the king of rock 'n' roll will be keeping time to nonhip bugle calls. Involuntarily retired, the gyrating guitarist's departure from the public eye left his blue jean fans all shook up, so we hear, but Elvis doesn't seem to mind at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You think Elvis would have guested on this show?
PRESLEY: I don't know.
KING: He didn't do interviews, did he?
KING: No, he didn't. No, not -- he just really wasn't into doing interviews.
KING: Sherman Oaks, California, hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: Hi, Priscilla.
CALLER: I'm a big "Dallas" fan and I'd like to ask you, what was it like working with Patrick Duffy?
PRESLEY: Oh, it was great. Patrick was wonderful.
KING: How long'd you do that?
PRESLEY: Five years. Five years I did it, and the whole crew was great. I know there's been a lot of stories, and there'd be all kinds, you know, gossip about how they didn't get along. There'd be fights, and, I guess, you know, they'd have to do that back then to keep the interest up, but Patrick was wonderful.
KING: Why aren't you doing more acting?
PRESLEY: I don't know. I'm really involved right now with producing. I'm producing a Broadway show of my own.
KING: About your life.
PRESLEY: About my life from a woman's point of view. I'm still working on the remake of "The Party" the old Peter Sellers.
KING: You're going to remake that movie?
PRESLEY: Yes. It's just taking so much time with rewrites. I have no idea. I mean, to be a producer in this town, it has to be a hobby because, believe me if you're waiting around for something to get done it just doesn't happen.
KING: How close is the play to fruition?
PRESLEY: Well, we're in rewrites right now.
KING: Have a title?
PRESLEY: Not yet, no.
KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Priscilla. I just have a question. My husband and I were in Memphis a couple of years after Elvis had died and we had the pleasure of meeting a nurse that used to take care of Elvis, Miriam.
CALLER: And I was wondering if you keep in contact with her or any of the other people that help take care of Elvis. Thank you.
PRESLEY: Thank you. Yes, I know Miriam very well. And yes, I'm in contact with her. She was wonderful. I'm in contact with Jonelle McCohen (ph) who has been a family member -- like a family member for years. Both ladies are just -- been terrific.
KING: Did he have a personal nurse?
PRESLEY: Yes, that was Miriam.
KING: Nurse? PRESLEY: Yes. Toward the end. I mean, she would -- he just -- he'd become very fond of people and he didn't like to change around. If she assisted him. And she, you know, would be called in by him and wanted her there and had a lot of talks with her, confided in her.
KING: How many rooms are in that house, in Graceland?
PRESLEY: You mean bedrooms?
PRESLEY: It was about five bed rooms.
KING: Irvine, California, hello?
CALLER: Hi. I'm just calling to say, knowing that Elvis is very popular, Priscilla, personally, what is your favorite song from Elvis?
PRESLEY: Oh, gosh. That's a difficult question. He sang every song...
KING: Did you have a love song together?
PRESLEY: You know, we -- Elvis -- actually no, not really a love song, love song to where he would always sing it. I mean, I was always a big fan of all of the songs that he would sang. I mean "Can't Help -- Can't Stop Falling in Love With You," "In The Ghetto" is great "Suspicious Minds." But I always knew the stories behind the songs, you know, and I think that's what I like, when you know why he picked a particular song and the story and the sessions.
KING: When he worked, where would you be? Backstage or on would you sit out front?
PRESLEY: No, in Vegas, right in front, right in front. Always has the same booth. Always at the same booth.
KING: Watch every show?
PRESLEY: Just about when I was there. Absolutely. Watched both shows, because then it was two shows a night, 8:00 show. Those were great days and you know that.
KING: Oh, what days.
PRESLEY: You know, right after -- I mean, Vegas is not Vegas.
KING: Did you used to dress up?
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh. Dress up. You were in a ballroom dresses, it was just beautiful.
KING: Were you with Elvis when he met the Beatles.
PRESLEY: Yes, I was there.
KING: At the Hilton, right?
PRESLEY: No, it was a house in Bel Air.
KING: It was in California. It was a nervous meet meeting, right?
KING: Both sides.
PRESLEY: Both sides. But you know, Elvis admired their work. But it was a difficult time at that time for him, too, because he was still wanting to do the songs that they were doing. He felt that they had freedom to do whatever they wanted to do, sing the songs they wanted to sing.
KING: He was envious.
PRESLEY: Well, he was just -- not as much envious as the fact that he admired them and just loved the fact that they were so liberated.
KING: He talked a lot -- someone told me about guitars.
PRESLEY: Yes. Yes.
KING: Playing guitars and the approach to guitars.
PRESLEY: That's right. It was all music related, basically. But they were all saw struck, very polite, very young, very new.
KING: Was he moody?
PRESLEY: Could be. Yes. Definitely. We all had our little code to see what kind of mood he was in. The guys would call into the house and into the kitchen where he would usually come down to see what kind of mood he was in and surely he had to have his coffee first.
KING: By any diagnosis, might he have been a little depressed?
PRESLEY: You know, I really...
KING: It's amateur guessing, but...
PRESLEY: You know, I think too -- Elvis could definitely get there. He had a dark side. He definitely had a dark side. He had great -- a great, you know, sense of humor, but he could go deep.
KING: We'll be back with more of Priscilla Presley. So much -- you've got a lot of balls in the air, things in the fire.
PRESLEY: Yeah. A lot of things going on.
KING: More with Priscilla right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E. PRESLEY: We'll be here tomorrow and tomorrow night. We go on worldwide television. And I need all of the help I can get.
PATSY PRESLEY GERANEN, ELVIS PRESLEY'S COUSIN: The Aloha Special. I was not able to attend that one, unfortunately. But we actually have the costume from that show at our home. Because my husband Gigi had to go to California and pick it up and brought it back. I tried the suit on. And the capes. And it was really fun. We didn't get any pictures of it, but we did it, it was great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did he pick out his own clothes?
PRESLEY: He had Bill Beleu (ph) who made his costumes for him. And they would go through sketches. And he would approve.
KING: He was involved.
KING: He didn't go in stores and bought off the rack.
PRESLEY: Seldom. I mean, a couple of guys would go out and buy certain things for him, but he liked hid custom-made clothes.
KING: Santa Rosa, California for Priscilla Presley, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Priscilla. I have a question about Lisa Marie. I wanted to say that I have both of her CDs. I absolutely love them. And I wanted to know what you think of her music.
PRESLEY: Well, you're asking her mother. I mean, I love her music. And I admire her writing ability. She just -- she is just a born writer and the way she expresses herself is just -- it's just amazes me.
KING: Did you know early on she could sing?
PRESLEY: You know, I didn't. She was a closet singer. She would go in her room. And I remember the music blaring. And I used to tell her turn the music down that was like invading the whole household. She would stay in her room for hours. And, you know, I didn't -- she never really came out to sing. And I didn't know for the longest time until when she said to me that's what I want to do.
I was appalled only because I'm going my God, you haven't had lessons, you can't go out there, you have got these big shoes to fill. I mean, as a mom, I was really concerned. And I actually tried to talk her out of it.
KING: Surprised at how good she was?
PRESLEY: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
KING: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Priscilla, it's a pleasure to speak with you.
PRESLEY: Thank you.
KING: Yes. Go ahead.
CALLER: Those of us who were big fans of Elvis in the '50s are still perplexed about the direction his career took when he left the Army. Why? Why didn't he assert himself? Why did he continue to make those inane movies and those bad songs?
PRESLEY: Well, he was under contract and he didn't really, you know, look at the scripts. He really didn't -- you know, he was under contracts and he was told that, that's what the studio wanted him to do.
KING: Was that bad advice for him?
PRESLEY: Yes, it was bad advice because you know, there was a formula. Those movies were a formula. They, you know, had a storyline and it was basically the same storyline only a different career.
KING: The one western he did was pretty good.
PRESLEY: Yes, he did it with the western and you know, it was, again, there music in it and he wanted to do serious movies, but it was the studio's wish that he keep putting out those formula movies and he did what the studio said to do.
KING: So he had clout and didn't use it.
PRESLEY: Well, I don't think he thought he had clout. I think that, you know, that's what the word was, was studios wanted this particular, you know, movie and music to it and that was a formula. That's what worked.
KING: Riverview, Michigan. Hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Priscilla.
CALLER: I'm a big fan. As a matter of fact, I was in the audience when you and Lisa were on "Oprah." I was in the first row. I'm a huge fan and it's an honor to speak to you.
PRESLEY: Thank you.
CALLER: My question to you, that I've always wanted to ask you: How did you find the strength to leave such a powerful man? How...
KING: Good question.
PRESLEY: That is a good question.
KING: You could have stayed on, sucked it in, with regard to the other women. Had a great life.
PRESLEY: You know, it wasn't -- No it wasn't that. It was -- first of all: It took every bit of strength that I could conjure up to leave because I still loved him, you know? It wasn't about not liking, it wasn't about not loving. It was a lifestyle. I was having a daughter. It was not being able to raise a daughter and a lifestyle of bachelors and not only that, they were married -- some were married and there was a lot of unethical relationships going to.
KING: How did he take it?
PRESLEY: Not well. Not well, at all. You know, I guess our relationship was not like most relationships. There was no hate involved. It wasn't like, you know, we couldn't still be with each other.
KING: You would have throw-at-each-other arguments and throw plates?
PRESLEY: No. No, I didn't. He did.
PRESLEY: No. I could never do that, no. I'm only kidding. No, you know, after -- it was not good, after I said I was leaving. It was a very tough time.
KING: How long did it take before saying you were leaving, to leaving?
PRESLEY: Saying I was leaving, to leaving. I actually -- I actually started moving out, you know, soon.
KING: Once you decided.
PRESLEY: Once I decided, yes.
KING: Back with more moments with Priscilla Presley. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. PRESLEY: He was on a never-ending spiritual quest of some sort. I never not saw him reading, looking, questioning.
JERRY SCHILLING, ELVIS PRESLEY'S FRIEND: He was a searcher about life. A searcher about truth. He was thirsty for knowledge. He had such an inquisitive mind.
PRESLEY: Elvis always was searching. He always wanted answers. He always had that fight between you know, what was right, You know, what was wrong? (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Priscilla Presley.
Again, the book is "Elvis by the Presleys: Intimate Stories from Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley and Other Family Members." It's a companion to the CBS special. There's also a longer-form documentary DVD, four hours, and a related C.D.
How long do you think this Elvis-mania is going to go on?
PRESLEY: Well, you know, I mean there's certainly enough material there. He left with us so much. I mean, we still have archives. We still have room to do a lot of different things and you know, I think he deserves that. He certainly gave enough us to and I think we can certainly give back.
KING: Are 18-year-olds interested in him?
PRESLEY: Absolutely, they are. Absolutely.
You know, when this aired, the CBS special aired, the demographics were unbelievable: 18 up and even younger, we found out, because you know, those are the children that would come to Graceland asking questions about: Well just who is he and why is he so popular. And then we have so much mail saying that they were captivated and they wanted to be like him.
I mean, he was a great role model, you know?. He truly took his success and he is what you would expect someone to be in his position. What he did with his fame, you know, he was the role model. He cared about people. He cared about his family and I didn't care -- I didn't know -- when I first -- when I, you know, was with Elvis, I don't know what I was thinking, because there would be fans sleeping at the gates, they'd be sleeping over and having little slumber parties and they followed us everywhere. And I remember thinking: My gosh, he's married and you know, they shouldn't be out there hanging on and what do they want? and what do they want him to do?
And you know, I had a few confrontations and oh, my God, I just feel so bad because they've just been the loyalist fans and they put up with me, you know? And I -- they're still out there. There's still those few that have...
KING: Sirius radio has all Elvis, a 24-hour network of just Elvis that...
PRESLEY: That's right.
KING: The XM satellite bands. PRESLEY: Right.
You know when you're -- when you reach that level of fame and when you can be that kind of role model and use your fame to -- to morally help people, to ethically help people, which he did, you know, I think that is truly a legend.
KING: And even with his private life, and the way he died, and the prescription drugs, there never was a scandal.
PRESLEY: Right. No, not really because he was aware of his image. He was aware of who he was, you know, and he was a human being, too. I mean, let's not forget that, but he -- it wasn't about a scandal. You know, he was very private and he tried to be the best he possibly could in everything that he did.
KING: What do you think he'd make of all this?
PRESLEY: All of -- what's happening?
KING: Your here, books, plays, C.D.s.
PRESLEY: Oh, my gosh. He would probably be telling me I shouldn't have worn that color -- wear something else.
No, I'm only kidding. He was -- he had a great sense of humor. He was just -- I think he would just go: My gosh. Never, I don't think he would ever have expected his legacy to go on like it has. I -- you know, he was very humble, very humble. You know, he was already thinking, you know, about, you know, what he'd be doing when he of was -- older.
KING: He didn't have a wild ego.
PRESLEY: Well, I think he had an ego, definitely. I don't know of too many men that...
KING: But he was humble?
PRESLEY: He was humble. I mean, I don't think he was so sure of himself he was that, you know, that he was that confident. I mean, he certainly had concerns and -- like we all do.
KING: It's been a delight, Priscilla.
PRESLEY: Thank you, so much.
KING: Thank you, for coming forward.
KING: And what a great idea: "Elvis by the Presleys," plus the companion to the CBS special, plus the longer DVD.
Elvis Presley. We have an Elvis Presley at CNN; Elvis Presley type.
He hosts News night, Priscilla. He's Aaron Brown. He's Elvis Presley in that thousands of fans great him every day when he comes to the Time Warner building. Women throw themselves at him. Look at him.
PRESLEY: Oh, yes.
KING: Look -- would you -- is that handsome?
PRESLEY: He's gorgeous.
KING: Gorgeous. Priscilla Presley said, "Gorgeous."
Carry on, Aaron. We made your night.
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