PRISCILLA REVIEWS HER LIFE PART 1
By Tamara Ikenberg
Priscilla Presley — former superstar spouse, Leslie Nielsen’s leading lady and best-selling author — is coming to Kentucky Oct. 10 and 11. She will speak at Toyota’s In the Interest of Women conference and share her formula for finding success. She recently chatted with us about calling it quits with the King and her confident career moves.
Q. What will you be talking about at the conference?
A. I’m basically taking the audience through my life and what I’ve learned and how I’ve come out of it. You kind of go through the trials and tribulations of what I had to deal with. One doesn’t have lessons on how to live with a superstar, especially at a young age. It’s fantasy, but believe me, it’s more reality than one can imagine.
Q. How did you find the courage to end your marriage to Elvis?
A. That was the most difficult year of my life. That was not a decision I abruptly made. I could not change his world. It was fun and it was great, but when you have a child, it’s a little bit different. You can’t do all the travelling; you can’t be on set like you used to. … I wanted to bring my child travelling with me when we went out of town. That was not really something that I could do, because other members of the group had children, and he didn’t feel like he wanted to have a bunch of children around. … You’re faced with reality. That was probably the turning point for me. I (was) serving two masters. I had to face the fact that his world was never going to change. I didn’t leave out of hate. I still loved him very much, but I had to start living my own life.
Q. Did you dream of becoming an actress and an author?
A. They were not always aspirations. I was very willing and wanting to create a home life. My parents are still together. We just celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. So I came from a very solid family background, and so did Elvis, really. I was prepared to basically be a wife and a mother. I didn’t have dreams of coming to Hollywood and being an actress. Those are things I started very gradiently on after my divorce. After Elvis died, I realised that I needed to really get my life together. We remained friends until the day he died.
Q. How did you segue into acting and doing commercials?
A. I started designing clothes and had my own boutique for about five years, and (after that) I was asked about doing commercials, and I went on to become the spokesperson for Wella.
I started very late in life for being in the business. It was step by step.
It was a challenge because I’d never acted before. I took acting lessons. I was very shy, had to be forced on the stage to do a scene. I got this little show called ”Those Amazing Animals” with Burgess Meredith. Even though we only did 13 shows, it put me in front of an audience. In many ways, that paved the way for me to start getting into (more) television.
Q. How did you get hooked up with ”The Naked Gun” folks?
A. I was on ”Dallas” for five years, and it was during a hiatus. They were filming ”The Naked Gun” and they asked to see me, and I went in and auditioned, never thinking ever that I was going to get the part, because I was never known to be, nor am I a comedian. They said they weren’t looking for a comedian. That’s exactly what they didn’t want. If you look at some of the cast, like Ricardo Montalban, Robert Goulet, the (Zucker brothers) certainly took risks. I got the call three days later saying I got the part. I was totally shocked that I got it. I had no idea why they would want me for this. Once we started shooting, I felt very comfortable and really loved it. It was the best time that I ever had. Leslie could not have been nicer. He was the greatest partner because he knew it was my first major film. He kind of took me by the hand and made me feel very comfortable. I was very intimidated at first, knowing who he was.