It’s been a long while since a Presley has graced a Las Vegas marquee, but it is happening once more as Priscilla Presley is set to appear at South Point Showroom April 8-10.
The film and TV star, and the only woman ever married to Elvis, is tapping into her history as a member of entertainment royalty. Presley will appear alongside entertainment reporter Sandie Newton from NBC Palm Springs, where she will share behind-the-scenes tales, rare videos and photos, and take questions from the audience. It is the first time she has ever headlined a show in Vegas. It’s also first Presley show in Vegas since Lisa Marie performed at House of Blues in May 2005.
Elvis and Priscilla were wed in a highly publicized ceremony May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin. They were married through much of Elvis’ run at the International and Las Vegas Hilton before divorcing in October 1973. Priscilla was a creative director of the “Viva Elvis” Cirque show at Aria from 2009-2012. She also was honored as Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year in 2010. In 2015, she was involved in bringing “Graceland Presents: The Elvis Presley Experience” to Westgate Las Vegas (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton). The Elvis-themed show, wedding chapel, and displays of Elvis’ personal property closed less than a year after launching.
Highlights from a recent phone chat with the entertainment icon:
Johnny Kats: You have been a key subject in Las Vegas entertainment history, but you haven’t been here much in recent years. How do you feel about coming back to town?
Priscilla Presley: I feel great about it. I certainly have memories, I get to see who is still there, what is new. It’s built up quite a bit with new places. South Point, I hadn’t heard of, so I’m excited to visit.
I still see wedding photos of you and Elvis hanging up at the Westgate. You’re still very present in the city, immortalized in a lot of ways. How does it feel to know that?
Well, Las Vegas is embedded in my mind, too. So we had some great times, at that time. That was when the who’s-who of would come to see Elvis, that’s for sure.
What flashes in your mind when you think of our city, in those days?
Oh, my gosh. The biggest memories of course are Elvis appearing there, going to his shows, seeing Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin. That was the crowd, and everyone raved about Elvis. All of us were friends. I can tell you, we shopped (laughs) at Suzy Creamcheese (fashion boutique). Now, I know that place is not there anymore, but I loved it.
What are you going to delve into on the stage in Las Vegas?
It’s really about my life. I’m going to share that with the audience, starting from my life early beginnings, my life with Elvis, who he really was, some new things about him.
You’re finding people are still curious about what it was like to be with Elvis?
So many people have said to me, “My gosh, you’ve had such a great life!” But being married to Elvis, and, you know, there were ups and downs. People think, my God, to be married to someone so famous, it was really quite nice. It was, but it was also a struggle. You’re dating and then married to the most famous entertainer in the world, there’s so much that goes to that. Even though we were very good friends and, and cared for each other after we divorced, there were ups and downs. You have love and appreciation, and the care all goes along with that friendship.
Looking back, what enters your mind when you bring up the struggles?
You know, you are just living the life of an entertainer. Being married to someone so famous, and not being known in any other way than that is a struggle for what your life should be, and how you can have something that is your own. All the women involved with someone who’s the greatest entertainer in the world, and the fears that go along with it, the struggles that go along with it … I would say basically the highs and lows.
We’ve talked about the power of Elvis’ brand in Vegas for a long time, back to the days of “Viva Elvis.” But right now there are no ticketed Elvis shows on the Strip. What is the meaning of this, as someone who has been so directly involved in his life and legacy?
It’s not changing at Graceland. It’s not changing there, we still get thousands and thousands of people every year. We are seeing the younger generation coming in. As far as Vegas, you have all these younger entertainers who are now coming in and performing, and I don’t know what to say about that. In my show, I’m going to show who the real Elvis Presley was. I mean, he was wonderful. There’s no doubt about it. But it is a concern, we have a younger generation to capture, who really need to see why this man’s reputation, his life and his music really means something to our culture.
Do you miss having him around, still? I know it’s been a long time, but he had such a powerful personality. Are there still times when you wish you could have a conversation with him?
Oh, my god, yes. Absolutely. You know, sometimes I look at pictures that are posted and I feel it. I just got back from Australia, we had an exhibit there and he is still thoroughly revered there. Every shot, every one, makes me think I would love to sit down and talk with him, and have him in my life. I lived a good life with him. I cared for him. He cared for me very, very much. I definitely miss him.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.