How old was Priscilla Presley when she started dating Elvis Presley?

Sofia Coppola’s latest film, Priscilla, opens in theaters nationwide next month, on Oct. 23rd, 2023. From early reviews at the Venice International Film Festival alone, the biographical film of Priscilla Presley and her relationship with legendary musician Elvis Presley is set to be a controversial one, to say the least.

While the movie is based on Priscilla’s memoir, Elvis and Me, and is made with Priscilla’s consultation, Elvis’ estate would not grant permission to use the late singer’s music in the film.

“It feels like a college movie. The set designs are just horrific; it’s not what Graceland looks like,” one official from the musicians’ estate told TMZ, describing Coppola’s writing and direction as “horrible.”

The official did not mention anything more specific about why the estate is against the film, particularly after the success of the 2022 biopic Elvis, but perhaps A24’s description of Priscilla is a clue as to why the film ruffled some feathers:

“When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley at a party, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a vulnerable best friend,” the official synopsis reads.

The fact that Priscilla Beaulieu — as she was known prior to her marriage — was a teenager when she and Elvis began a relationship complicates the modern image of the long-reigning King of Rock and Roll. Elvis was ten years Priscilla’s senior, meaning that their relationship likely crosses some legal and moral lines in today’s context.

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How old was Priscilla Presley when she started dating Elvis Presley?

As confirmed through documentation of Elvis’ military service in Germany, Elvis met Priscilla at a party in 1959 when he was 24 years old, and she was just 14.

“When we met, I was an impressionable 14-year-old. He was 24,” Priscilla wrote in a 1984 essay for People.

“My parents became confused by our relationship. We tried to make them believe it was proper and platonic, and they wanted to believe me. Whenever they tried to stop us from seeing each other, I pleaded and cried, making them and myself miserable,” Priscilla continued.

As if things weren’t controversial enough, the essay later recounts the late singer introducing Priscilla to amphetamines and sleeping pills early into their relationship. After Elvis’ military service ended and he returned to music, the pair saw each other much more sporadically until Priscilla moved to Graceland around the time of her 18th birthday, as part of an agreement between Elvis and Priscilla’s parents. The couple was speculated to be celibate until their marriage in 1967, but neither party ever confirmed this.

The age of consent laws in the U.S. was raised as the 20th century progressed, although the southern states tended to be slower in this advancement. In Tennessee, where Elvis’ home of Graceland was located, non-sexual contact was permitted for those over 13. Given Priscilla’s residence in Germany, as well as the controversy over Elvis’ musical contemporary Jerry Lee Lewis’s marriage to his 13-year-old cousin at the time, their relationship can be considered problematic in both modern and historical contexts.

Priscilla, who took over the management of Elvis’ estate after his father died in 1979 until daughter Lisa Marie Presley’s 25th birthday in 1993, has continuously defended her age gap with Elvis. “Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life. Not in numbers. That was the attraction,” Priscilla stated in 2023 while discussing her biopic.

“People think, ‘Oh, it was sex.’ Not at all. I never had sex with him. He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old.”

It is unlikely that Priscilla’s personal rationale for their relationship will win over many skeptics, but if early reviews of Sofia Coppola’s new film are anything to go by, Priscilla does not shy away from the predatory nature of their relationship.

Speaking to Financial Times, Coppola revealed, “I remember Priscilla’s manager saying, ‘The Elvis fans are not going to like certain things.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not making it for them.’”

Given the ongoing dispute between Priscilla and Elvis’ estate regarding the upcoming biopic, Priscilla will address some ugly truths about the relationship head-on. Whether or not the film does justice in depicting such a relationship will be down to the viewer’s own opinion.



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