Elvis Presley left behind a legacy like no other. His daughter, Lisa Marie, kept his memory alive all these years, up until her recent passing. And even though her son Benjamin never met grandpa, fans couldn't help but compare the two...
Rock 'n' Roll Genes
Perhaps it's no surprise there is some sort of resemblance between the King and his grandson. After all, the Presley genes have been strong. Whether this is talent or looks, there had to be some elements of Elvis that were passed down.
Elvis and his wife Priscilla could hardly wait to start a family together. From the moment they got married, it was all burning love. Nine months later, the couple welcomed their first - and only child - Lisa Marie, into the world on February 1st, 1968. They were over the moon, especially Priscilla.
Priscilla couldn't bite her tongue for much longer after her birth. Although they were A-lister celebrities who wanted to keep a private life, she loved her miracle daughter. In 1985, she wrote a piece solely focused on Lisa Marie for People. As a mother, she gushed over her newborn. She was the light of her life.
Priscilla wrote, "Our daughter, Lisa Marie, was born at 5:01 p.m. on Feb. 1, 1968… The nurse brought [Lisa Marie] into my room, and I cradled her in my arms. She was so tiny – so beautiful." Perhaps nothing is more special than when a parent lays their eyes on their child for the first time - and Elvis didn't hold back the tears either.
Turn for the Better
The King couldn't help but fall in love with his baby girl, Lisa. More so because this wasn't like any regular birth moment for Elvis and Priscilla - it turns out the two were going through a bit of a rough patch while Priscilla was pregnant. So, maybe Lisa Marie really was the miracle baby.
When Priscilla was 7 months pregnant, her husband had asked for a trial separation. Things were all shaken up. How could this be? Regardless, Priscilla continued, "Elvis came into the room and kissed me, thrilled that we had had a perfectly normal, healthy baby. Then he took us both in his arms and held us."
Priscilla had no idea what was going on in Elvis's suspicious mind to understand why he would want to split. As she saw it, they were perfect for each other, and a baby would only make things more magical than they already were. So, to suggest a split at 7 months pregnant was worrying.
Priscilla explained her thoughts during this period, "I don't think Elvis really intended to leave me. It wasn't his style. I later realized he had questions about how a baby would affect his life. Would his public accept him as a father? He wasn't even sure if his fans had adapted to his becoming a husband. How loyal would they be?"
The Elephant in the Room
Elvis was in full-on dad mode and took on responsibilities that made Priscilla happy. She hoped the birth of their child would solve all problems that were lingering beforehand. As time went on, things were going blissfully well. She believed Lisa Marie was the missing piece to their family - or so she thought.
Priscilla explained, "Within a short time, Elvis' sensitive nature brought him back to his senses. Two days had passed. The idea of a trial separation was never mentioned again. We both acted as if nothing had been said." Unfortunately, these things don't change overnight, and trouble was on the horizon for the Presley family.
Juggling Fame & Fatherhood
They say three's a crowd, but this shouldn't be the case for family. With a newborn at home, Priscilla expected Elvis to put as much time and effort as possible into the baby while also juggling a career. And he did... but then Lisa Marie grew up, and Presley began to spend more time on the road.
She wrote in her 1985 book, "Lisa and I visited him in Vegas for her birthdays, having huge parties in the suite where she received everything from slot machines to two Saint Bernard puppies… to an entire room filled with balloons - everything, in short, a 2- or 3-year-old shouldn't have and couldn't appreciate."
Trouble in Paradise?
Priscilla strived to make things work, regardless of where Elvis was at that moment in time. As a young couple in love and enjoying the spotlight, Elvis and Priscilla were the perfect match. But once Priscilla became a mother, things naturally changed. Elvis found this hard to adjust to and realized there was more to what met his eye.
She expressed to People, "I realized that now that I was a mother, Elvis was uncertain how to treat me. He had mentioned before we were married that he had never been able to make love to a woman who'd had a child." This was a deep concern. Unfortunately, it wasn't going away and the couple officially divorced on October 9th, 1973.
"Our Principal Concern"
Lisa Marie was just 5 years old at the time when her parents headed their separate ways. Of course, as most would expect, a parent's first priority would be the children - if any are involved. For Priscilla, this wasn't a question, she worried how a divorce in the spotlight would affect her.
It was agreed that both parents would have shared custody of Lisa. Priscilla wrote, "Our principal concern was Lisa, whose custody we agreed would be mutually shared." Unfortunately, the shared custody didn't last long. Just 4 years after the divorce, Elvis passed, leaving behind Priscilla to take care of Lisa Marie full-time.
Elvis was never shamed by his ex-wife. What mattered was that he tried, despite the inner demons he was struggling with. Not to mention, Priscilla was always supportive of him and wanted the best for him. Though his life didn't turn out how everyone expected, Lisa Marie will always remember him positively.
In a 2007 interview with Good Morning America, Lisa Marie gushed over her father to Diane Swayer, "He'd always wake me up to sing in the middle of the night - get on the table and sing. I remember him as my dad, but he was a very exciting dad." Not everyone can say they had a Hound Dog performance as their daily alarm.
There is never one way to deal with death, especially when it is a close family member. While Lisa had to process the information at such a young age, it impacted her actions growing up. She grew up on the iconic Graceland, so it was hard to separate herself from the incident that had taken place.
She couldn't process things properly and struggled specifically when faced with her father's body. She said, "I did a lot of strange things that day because it didn't really settle in. I rode my golf cart. I ran around and smoked cigarettes at 9 in the guard shack somewhere. I was crazy. I don't know, I did, like, wacky things."
As for the rest of Lisa Marie's childhood? While Elvis had already created an outstanding career for himself before his passing, he had left his ex-wife and daughter as heirs to a mass inheritance. She was grateful for every penny, even more so when her grandparents passed, leaving her worth $100 million by 25.
She saw the dark and lighter days growing up, but her childhood was far from imaginable. She couldn't stay in Graceland forever, so she embarked on adulthood and found love. She married Danny Keough in 1988 and had two children, Danielle Riley - now known as Riley - who was born in 1989, and brother Benjamin Storm, born in 1992.
In 1994, history repeated itself. When Benjamin was a toddler, Lisa Marie left Danny - thankfully ending things on a positive note. There was no bad blood, and they remained friends. Oddly enough, Lisa felt grateful that it ended like this, blessed to have had two children with the musician.
In 2003, Lisa told the Star Tribune, "I don't know how, but we've managed to stay close… There's others that I have pain or betrayal associated with that I won't have anything to do with. But [Danny] and I had a special thing." Although she was young, she might have picked up a thing or two from her parent's divorce.
Like Father, Like Son
Parents can't help themselves but compare children to a late or present relative. It's in their genes, literally. It's heartwarming to know members of the family tree pass down attributes and reflect elements of another's personality. Somehow, it's a reminder that they are always with us - and Lisa saw her father in both of her children.
In 2007, Lisa confirmed to Good Morning America, "They both have traits. My son has got this very regal thing about him. He's just got this dynamic energy that is familiar. And then my daughter, just - the humor, you know. She's got the intelligence, and she's smart - although I find her more like my mother than I do [Elvis]."
When Worlds Collide
Just 20 days after Lisa's divorce from Danny was settled, she shocked the nation even more. The King of Rock & Roll's daughter married the Prince of Pop, Michael Jackson. While it might seem right in the world of Hollywood to be with someone with equal star status, things weren't going to be easy.
Once again, Lisa Marie opened up about her life. Then again, being the daughter of Elvis Presley, it was very hard to keep a private life. In 2007, Lisa was interviewed by Marie Claire. When she was asked what her biggest mistake was, she admitted to "Leaving my first marriage for the person that I left it for."
All About the Kids
Lisa protected her children from everything, especially when it came down to romance after Danny. In 2010, she told Oprah, "I was looking into the future, and I was thinking I don't ever want to get into a custody battle with [Jackson]… I don't want to go head to head with him, so I need to make sure that everyone around is good."
She continued, "I know; I've had children. I knew bringing children into certain circumstances - you have to make sure everything's safe and secure and okay." Marrying one of The Jackson Five members was not a route she ever intended to go down. But this wouldn't be the only time she made questionable decisions.
In 2002, Lisa Marie was on her third marriage to none other than the actor Nicolas Cage, a massive Elvis fan. She made sure her children were involved, making Danielle the flower girl while Benjamin and Cage's son, Weston, were the pageboys. On paper, this seemed like the perfect blended family - until all proved otherwise.
The marriage lasted almost 3 months, but it was Cage that filed for divorce. In 2004, the papers were signed, sealed, and delivered. Despite this being her third marriage, Lisa Marie saw the love her parents had and wanted the same for herself. She didn't give up on love, knowing her father was looking down on her.
Fourth Time’s a Charm
2 years passed, and Lisa Marie finally thought she found the one. She married producer Michael Lockwood in 2006, celebrating with a unique ceremony held in Japan. Those cherry blossom trees might have been magic, as she announced 2 years later they were expecting twins! Marie was extending her Presley genes.
When Danielle was 19 and Benjamine was 15, they were accompanied by beautiful twin girls, Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love. Though it might have come as a surprise to Lisa that she was having twins, her father had a stillborn twin, while Priscilla had a half-brother who was a twin. Similarities were already coming into play.
In 2009, Lisa explained her relationship to Oprah on her talk show, "I knew that no matter what happened, we would always be connected. And I don't know how I knew that at such a young age, but I instinctively knew that and had those children with him. And we are like best friends: brother and sister."
Danny made sure he stayed close. He even lived on the same property as Lisa, who explained, "It's hard to have that kind of relationship with your ex… it's very important if you have children with somebody to keep your responsibility. You don't need to put what you guys went through or what you had with each other on the children."
All Eyes on the Presleys
Lisa faced a lot as a child. From her dad's fame to her parents' divorce, she was eager to protect and prepare her kids for whatever they might face with her as their mother. She told Oprah, "You have to be an example. I'm not somebody who sits around. I'm not happy unless I'm helping other people. And they watch me, and they see that."
Despite Lisa's marriages, all the attention soon turned to her son, Benjamin. Rumors began to circulate that he was eager to enter the music industry. In October 2009, the Daily Mail reported, "The slicked-back hair, full lips, and rock star swagger are all present and correct. All [Benjamin] needs now is a pair of blue suede shoes."
The Record Deal
While the Daily Mail made notable similarities between Benjamin and his grandfather, the tone quickly switched. The article continued to write, "music will be nothing like Elvis - nothing like him at all." An anonymous spokesperson further reported, "He's a typical 17-year-old. He doesn't get up before midday and then grunts at you."
The press did not hold back on talking about the aspiring artist. Whether he had talent or not, Benjamin was willing to follow his heart. And soon enough, reports began to emerge that he signed a $5 million record deal. Had he finally made his dream come true?
Press For Presley
Rumors are called rumors for a reason. And in this case, not only did the press try and fabricate the story, but it turned out the entire record deal narrative was false. But don't take our word for it. Shortly after their previous report, the Daily Mail released a follow-up article.
Peter LoFrumento, the executive vice president of Universal Music, reported, "This story is totally untrue." There was no twisting this. No record deal was signed nor music from Benjamin was released. However, he did appear in a personal Elvis music video.
I Love You Because...
In 2012, a music video was released for the track I Love You Because. The song was originally sung by the King, but his princess joined him in 2012, singing his track. The video was made out of home videos, showing Lisa as an infant, and later on, Benjamin and Danielle joined. But it was Benjamin who caught major attention.
In October that year, CMT asked Lisa, "He looks so much like Elvis. Does he get that reaction a lot?" She replied, "He does! He was at the [Grand Ole] Opry… Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I look at him."
Doing a Double-Take
From that moment on, fans couldn't help but see a side of Elvis within Benjamin. In June 2019, Lisa posted a picture to Instagram of her with all four children, captioned, "Mama Lion with cubs." Her followers were quick to comment on Benjamin's looks, as one pointed out, "Your son is almost a twin to your dad! Thanks for sharing this pic!"
Newsweek quickly commented, "Following a family picture posted Thursday by Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Presley, Twitter users had to do a double-take after seeing her son, Benjamin," and declared that the young man "looks to be the spitting image of his famous grandfather." There was no response from Benjamin.
With Lisa being so close to her son every day, she became used to his similarities to her late dad. But now the whole world was seeing it. Despite the family fame, Benjamin wasn't phased about being a part of it. He had not commented on the situation. Though, he did appear in an insightful documentary.
The only time Benjamin was present online was in Lisa's Instagram photos - and one time in a 2005 documentary titled Elvis by the Presleys. The documentary featured snippets of only Elvis's closest family members, revealing sacred moments only they would know. It's clear they lived more of a private lifestyle than we thought.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Benjamin's full potential. On July 12th, 2020, Benjamin suddenly passed. Lisa was not in any state to talk first-hand, so her manager spoke on her behalf. She was "heartbroken, inconsolable, and beyond devastated." 2 years later, Marie was ready to share her own emotional thoughts to People.
She wrote, "My and my three daughters' lives as we knew it were completely detonated and destroyed by his death. We live in this every. Single. Day. I keep going because my son made it very clear in his final moments that taking care of his little sisters and looking out for them were on the forefront of his concerns and his mind."
Lisa continued, "I've dealt with death, grief, and loss since the age of 9 years old. I've had more than anyone's fair share of it in my lifetime, and somehow, I've made it this far. But this one, the death of my beautiful, beautiful son?" Understandably, she couldn't quite come to terms with the fact she had lost two family members.
"The sweetest and most incredible being that I have ever had the privilege of knowing, who made me feel so honored every single day to be his mother? Who was so much like his grandfather on so many levels that he actually scared me? Which made me worry about him even more than I naturally would have? No. Just no … no no no no."
Losing Lisa Marie
Sadly, just 1 year after writing about Benjamin, another Presley was taken from us: 54-year-old Lisa Marie. On January 12th, 2023, news broke that Elvis's only daughter had left us after a cardiac arrest. Priscilla told People, "It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us."
She continued, "She was the most passionate, strong, and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss." We can't imagine the feeling of loss after losing a husband, grandson, and daughter. The Presleys are strong - and thankfully, Priscilla was not left alone to deal with the grief.
A Touching Tribute
The world has lost many icons, but Lisa Marie was one to remember. Other family members released statements, announcing they were "shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love, and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."
It was a very vivid time for close friends and family. People were feeling the same grief they felt when the King left his reign at Graceland, as well as the loss of his own blood-related doppelganger Benjamin. No one was ready to say goodbye to another Presley.
"Honest & Direct"
Many celebrities were quick to jump online and share remorseful words about Lisa Marie and the Presley family. One famous face, in particular, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks's wife, specifically expressed her respect for Lisa Marie as they spent time together prior to the Elvis film premiere.
Marie was grateful to support the film premier for Elvis based on her father and the mark he left on the world. Rita Wilson claimed that during the promotional tour, Lisa was nothing but "honest and direct, vulnerable, in a state of anticipation about the movie. She spoke so eloquently about her father."
Her Final Appearance
The world last saw Lisa Marie at the Elvis film premiere, where she praised Austin Butler for putting on an outstanding and emotional performance as Mr. Presley. She then reappeared at the Golden Globes and watched Butler receive an award for his devoted role. Little did we know, this was the last time we would see Lisa Marie.
Two days after the award show, the sad news was announced. Thankfully, her final words were dedicated to the film, "I really didn't know what to do with myself after I saw it. I had to take, like, five days to process it because it was so incredible and so spot on and just so authentic."