Three generations of Presley women stepped on stage at Graceland last weekend, the ghost of the King of rock ’n’ roll all around them, for a screening of the much-anticipated movie “Elvis.”
Priscilla Presley, daughter Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter Riley Keough were at the Memphis mansion that Elvis called home, to introduce director Baz Luhrmann’s biopic starring Austin Butler as the icon.
As Riley, 33, has previously stated, she broke down in tears while watching the movie for the first time with her mom and grandma. “I started crying five minutes in and didn’t stop. There’s a lot of family trauma and generational trauma that started around then for our family.”
That multi-generational trauma has included addiction, divorce and tragic death.
For Lisa Marie, 54, the screening was her first public appearance since the devastating loss of her son Benjamin Keough, 27, who committed suicide in July 2020.
She had not joined her mom and daughter at the film’s official premiere at Cannes Film Festival in May. As she was introduced by Luhrmann, Lisa Marie was greeted by screams of “We love you, Lisa” from the audience. “I love you too,” she replied.
In a video seen by The Post, she told the crowd: “My life is a little bit kind of down right now. You’re pulling me up. so thank you.
“I’m so proud of this movie, I really am … To be honest, I haven’t really left my house for the last two years unless it has to do with my children, so to get me to leave like California and fly to Memphis and be here, aside from coming to visit my [son’s grave, at Graceland], it’s a big deal.”
The Post is told that Lisa Marie, who has been open over the years about her struggles with addiction, continues to be supported by her first husband, Danny Keough, the father of Benjamin and Riley. The couple, who were married from 1998 to 1994, are living together once again — albeit platonically.
The pair are residing with Lisa Marie’s 13-year-old twin daughters, Harper and Finley Lockwood — whose father is musician Michael Lockwood, her fourth husband — in the Calabasas area of Los Angeles. She sold the nearby house where Benjamin died for $2 million in March 2021.
“They’re friends. it’s nothing romantic,” a family source said told The Post. “They are two parents grieving.”
Over the years, Priscilla, now 77, has fiercely protected Elvis’ legacy and largely been the one responsible for running his estate. And she has given this movie her full support, telling the Graceland crowd: “I’ve never been so enthusiastic about a film, an Elvis film, as I am this.”
In May, Riley told Variety how Luhrmann sat down with her and her relatives for several hours before he started filming “Elvis.”
The family also gave the director inside access to Graceland, but they had no control over the finished product. “At the end of the day, we’re not going to tell Baz Luhrmann how to make a movie,” Riley said.
The film follows Elvis from his dirt-poor childhood in Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis, to his chance meeting with controlling manager Colonel Tom Parker — played by Tom Hanks — through to his final shambolic years dressed in rhinestones on a Vegas stage.
Presley was already a superstar when he was sent to Germany as part of the Korean War, after being drafted into the Army in 1958.
It was there that he met Priscilla Beaulieu, who was only 14 years old to his 24. The young teen was living on a West German base with her mom and stepdad, a US Air Force captain, when she was invited to a party at the house Elvis had rented in Bad Nauheim.
As Priscilla told People magazine in 2021, she knew immediately she “had to keep him … I wanted to go places with him. I would cry if I couldn’t be around him.”
In 1963, three years after Elvis returned to the States, Priscilla’s parents let her move from Germany to Memphis — initially on the condition that she live with the singer’s father and stepmother in their home a mile away from Graceland. Four years later, when Elvis was 32 and Priscilla was 21, they married.
In a 1985 interview with Barbara Walters, Priscilla insisted that Elvis refused to sleep with her until they wed, saying: “There was an agreement he made with himself that the woman he decided to take for his wife he was going to keep her that way until he married her … Somewhere in his past, he said he wanted a virgin.”
Elvis controlled her looks, her clothes, her hair, even her makeup, Priscilla said. “I was definitely under a spell of what I thought was love.”
Almost nine months to the day after the couple’s 1967 wedding, Lisa Marie, their only child, was born.
But after the baby’s birth, Priscilla said, Elvis no longer wanted to have sex with her.
As he turned to pills — having become hooked on barbiturates and stimulants during his time in the military — Priscilla could no longer cope. They divorced in 1973.
On the night of Aug. 16, 1977, Lisa Marie, then 9 years old, saw her father for the last time, not long before he was found dead in a Graceland bathroom by his girlfriend Ginger Alden. (The official cause of death was heart failure, brought on by his pill addiction.) His body remained in the house for three days, which Lisa Marie later said she found “comforting.”
Before Elvis’s death, the Church of Scientology had come calling according to Scientology expert Tony Ortega, in a bid to recruit celebrities.
Ortega told The Post that Elvis had said “What the hell is this thing?” of the religion. “Elvis wanted nothing to do with it…but Priscilla got sucked in,” Ortega told The Post.
After Elvis died, former Scientologist Sylvia “Spanky” Taylor said John Travolta sent her over to see Priscilla, who had found books on Scientology among his belongings and was curious. She recruited Priscilla, who brought up Lisa Marie in the church, who then raised her two oldest children, Riley and Benjamin, in Scientology as well.
Lisa Marie, who has said that a boyfriend of Priscilla’s tried to seduce her when she was young, reportedly met musician Danny Keough through the church at age 17. She had dropped out of school.
Six years and two kids later, the couple divorced. In 1994, she wed Michael Jackson, just weeks after her divorce was finalized and he had settled a $23 million lawsuit with the family of a 13-year-old boy he was accused of abusing. This star-crossed union — which included public make-out sessions to convince a skeptical public of their love — lasted 20 months. It ended, she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview, over an ultimatum: He had to choose drugs or her.
Later, Lisa Marie also had a doomed marriage to actor Nicolas Cage from 2001 to 2004.
“We’re all going to screw up,” as she told Marie Claire magazine in 2007. “The important thing is, do you learn from it and not do it again? Can you make it better in the future? Can you change? Because, Lord knows, I’ve f–ked up many, many times.”
She said that leaving her first marriage to marry Jackson was “probably the biggest mistake of my life.”
Lisa Marie, who tried her hand at singing over the years, filed for divorce from her fourth husband, Lockwood, in 2016 after a decade of marriage. The couple share their twin daughters, who lived with Priscilla at the height of the divorce battle, and are still embroiled in a fight over money. At one point, Lisa Marie claimed she had found child pornography on Lockwood’s computer, which Lockwood said was untrue. They will meet again in court this summer.
In 2019, Lisa Marie opened up about her addiction to painkillers and opioids in the foreword for Harry Nelson’s book “The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain.”
“I was recovering after the  birth of my daughters, Vivienne and Finley, when a doctor prescribed me opioids for pain,” she wrote. “It only took a short-term prescription of opioids in the hospital for me to feel the need to keep taking them.”
Lisa Marie also battled to leave Scientology, according to Ortega.
He believes that “You Aint Seen Nothing Yet,” a song on her 2012 album, “Storm & Grace,” is about that.
“It talked about getting away from these people who were holding her down,” Ortega said. “It was very clear to me that Lisa seemed to be breaking away.”
Lisa Marie also fell out with the church, Ortega asserted, after finding out that leader David Miscavige had considered his own father, Ron Miscavige, to be an enemy of the church after the older man left Scientology.
“In October 2014, Lisa Marie went to the Flag Land Base. She wanted to see David and tried to have a face-to-face showdown with him,” Ortega claimed. “But instead of David, his sisters Denise and Lori came in the room. They just started screaming at her and telling her that Ron was a piece of s–t.
“Lisa Marie walked out [and] said, ‘That’s it, I’m no longer a Scientologist.’ She pulled Priscilla and Riley out with her.”
A representative for Scientology did not respond to requests for comment.
Ortega also said that Lisa Marie has had a “hellish [past] five years.”
Following Benjamin’s death by self-inflicted gunshot, Ortega reported that a friend told him how Benjamin, who bore a striking resemblance to his grandfather, had struggled with drink and drugs — and “had been talking about how f - - ked up kids get in Scientology.”
Another source, who was close to Benjamin as a boy, claimed, “His entire family was shaped by Scientology, and [they’re] paying the price.”
Despite rumors that Riley, who is married to Australian stuntman and actor Ben Smith-Peterson, is back in the church, multiple sources tell us that she is not.
Lisa Marie is “keeping Scientology at arm’s length. She’s not on the warpath like she was,” Ortega added.
For now, the Presley women are doing well. Riley recently won the Camera d’Or at Cannes Film Festival for her directorial debut, alongside co-director Gina Gammell, for “War Pony,” a film about two Oglala Lakota boys navigating life on the South Dakota reservation.
“Elvis” also premiered at the festival in France, earning a 12-minute standing ovation.
Lisa Marie, for one, has already predicted big things for the movie, writing on social media: “If he doesn’t get an Oscar for this, I will eat my own foot … “
Still, she added, “It breaks my heart that my son isn’t here to see it … He would have absolutely loved it as well.”
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