Priscilla or Ann-Margaret?

A few days into production on “Girl Happy,” Ann-Margret came to visit Elvis on the set.  We were filming all night on the back lot of MGM, famous for many classic movies going back to the golden era of Hollywood.  They’d met a year before when she costarred with him in “Viva Las Vegas,” and the attraction between these two sex symbols was instantaneous; Elvis became deeply infatuated with her.  Gossip had it that things between them were serious; Elvis dismissed the stories as studio publicity, but they were true.  Priscilla made her displeasure known to Elvis, and though he pleaded his innocence, she really didn’t buy it.  Neither did anyone else who knew him.

When Ann-Margret walked onto the back lot around eleven o’clock one evening, all eyes were instantly glued to her, including Elvis’ – he lit up like an incandescent light. When Elvis finished shooting his scene, he eagerly walked over to her. They hugged, and then he took her by the hand and motioned me to follow them.  We entered Elvis’ tiny, cramped dressing room trailer with barely enough space for two people, let alone three.   Elvis seated himself at a small table in front of a mirror surrounded by light bulbs so I could do his hair.

Taking care of Elvis’ hair was certainly a different experience for me that night.  As always, my first obligation was to make certain Elvis’ hair looked perfect, camera-ready for his next scene.   But this time I was engrossed in the interchange between Elvis and Ann-Margaret, the room buzzing with electricity and their emotions flying in all directions.  Each time they looked at one another their self-consciousness and magnetic attraction were obvious and transparent.  My main dilemma was to do the task at hand despite the distractions. There I was, standing between them in very tight quarters, brushing Elvis’ hair; with Ann-Margret’s body so close to mine that I could actually feel her breasts on my back.  Talk about a blessing and curse! It was a tough job…but somebody had to do it.

Elvis and Ann-Margret were beautiful together; they shared an energy and enthusiasm for life that made you feel happy for them. Elvis was very fond of her and loved to make her laugh.

They seemed to have all the elements for an enduring relationship, but Elvis confided that she intimidated him.  She had her own very successful career, which she wasn’t about to throw over for anyone, and – more importantly – she was independent and wouldn’t take a submissive role.  Few woman Elvis became involved with had that kind of resolve and sense of self.

Elvis recognized that he’d never exert the control over her that he had then over a young, inexperienced Priscilla.  It inevitably came down to a choice between Priscilla, someone Elvis believed he could sequester a couple of thousand miles away whenever he wanted to enjoy his “freedom,” and Ann-Margret, who challenged him, if only because her life didn’t revolve around his.  It was a challenge he never rose to with any woman.

Several hours after Ann-Margret left the lot, Elvis and I retreated back to his dressing room between scenes. Elvis didn’t waste a minute, plunging right into what was foremost on his mind.  “Lawrence, it’s between Ann and Priscilla.  And what’s really strange is that they look so much alike, almost like sisters.  But to tell you the truth I don’t think things would work out with Ann and me. Two egos like ours, two careers.  There’s bound to be conflicts. I really care for her. But to tell ya the truth, I really don’t think it would be a lasting thing.”

Elvis then explained what he believed was the main obstacle to continuing with Ann. “Women should stay at home and raise a family.  That’s how I was raised.” A small smile crept over Elvis’ face. “I’ll tell you something I learned a long time ago.  There’s more to life than lust.”

In the wilds of Hollywood, Elvis’ attitudes towards women were almost quaint.  He eschewed promiscuity, although he had certainly gone through some wild periods.  “Man, when I learned that I was going into the army I went hog wild. Larry, I had sex with every girl I could find.  I went as far as I could, until I got so exhausted I ended up in the hospital. I guess I needed that experience; it made me realize then that sex without love or affection is a waste.”

“Besides, I’m committed to Priscilla,” he said, “and someday I’ll live up to my promise to her and to her dad.  Priscilla reminds me of my mom. She wants to be a mother and raise children.  She doesn’t want a showbiz career; she just wants to be my wife.”

Elvis seemed very satisfied and content that he had made such an important decision, and a few years later he kept his promise and married Priscilla.  He remained very fond of Ann-Margaret, and their friendship lasted the rest of his life.

About Larry Geller

Before becoming Elvis Presley's personal hairstylist, spiritual mentor and confidant in 1964, I worked with the famed Jay Sebring in the very first men's hair styling salon. Our clientele read like a Hollywood Who's Who: Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, Rock Hudson and many more. The last time I did Elvis' hair was for his funeral in August of 1977.
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20 Responses to Priscilla or Ann-Margaret?

  1. Sharon Borg says:

    Hi Larry, I loved your book and I’am so happy to know that Elvis had such a great friend like you in his life. Elvis needed to have someone like you to confide and talk too. He was not perfect but either is anyone else, we all have good and bad in us. I love that he was so into finding God and for you helping him. I believe that this made him a better man in so many ways, its to bad you were gone those few years when I know he needed you. I love Elvis and will always love him, I wish I could have meant him but after reading your book I feel like I know him better. He was a special person and still is today and deserves to be. Thanks. Sharon Borg

  2. Ariane says:

    How a nice article is this to read, after all: all I read from Elvis is nice.
    Personally, I think Priscilla was the perfect match for him, she fit perfectly with his beauty, cause she was a blow-away-beauty too!
    Then, what he, himself, said about her; he made his own choice, I guess, unlike what a lot of other people are thinking.
    How nice it would be, if a friend of Elvis would gave me a message in return, hope to hear from you Larry!

    Greatings!

  3. Joe says:

    Hello Larry , huge fan and in some ways a son to your friend Elvis. My dad left mom with 5 young children and I really believe watching Elvis’ movies shaped me early in life. His manners, humility and generosity are a few traits I’ve absorbed. Wish I had his looks and voice – LOL . Ironically, I write this from a drug treatment program on the day before his death anniversary. There can be no self fulfilling something or other that I’m here being a fan of his – I wonder… Anyway, I’ve heated u on your friend George,s radio show many times. Keep up the sharing – us fans are blessed to hear from one of the few who knew the one so many loved – wish me luck as I have my own family relying on my making my own comeback. With love and respect , thank u

  4. Dianne Gilbert says:

    It was sad Elvis didn’t end up with Ann Margaret. Lisa Marie would had a different Mommy. I give Pricilla credit for helping her daughter keep Graceland alive. It was meant to be, Elvis marrying Pricilla. I loved Elvis, and for doing the honorable thing by marrying her, and making and keeping a promise to her step-dad.

  5. m sakara says:

    I just read your book, IF I CAN DREAM, which I enjoyed, with such details as Elvis watching the movie BECKET, and being a Pink Panther fan—-which is the sort of stuff idiot biographer Albert Goldman left out of his long, hateful, book.

    I read Goldman’s book weeks ago, and Goldman (born 1927), was too old to appreciate Elvis, even in the 1950s; he must have started hating him even back then.

    Too bad there weren’t many books on gnostic Christianity back in the 1960s; Elaine Pagels books on the subject, in last 20 years, are interesting.

  6. Susie says:

    Hi,Larry
    Thanks for the great information again on Elvis.He was just precious.It’s nice to hear someone tell the world what Elvis’ perspective was on things such as marriage. You can still feel the love and energy from him today. One of a kind.Take Care.Susie

  7. Susie says:

    Hi, Larry
    Thanks for the information. You have great stories. It’s nice to hear what Elvis’ perspective was on marriage. Bye the way, his hair always looked so nice in his movies.

  8. Susie says:

    Hi Larry,
    Thanks again for the great information.I’m going to watch Viva Las Vegas again. I love the scene when Elvis opens the wine bottle and sprays it all over Ann Margaret I rewind it everytime. Ann Margaret and Priscilla were two lucky ladies. He was just a beautiful person inside and out.Take Care.

  9. Juana Luz Rivera says:

    Hzello Larry, It is of great pleasure to salute someone who was very dear and loved by Elvis. I just wanted to mention that it has been about 3 to 4 weeks that I saw the Elvis special from the Aloha from Hawaii concert in the KPBS programing and since then I’ve been drawn to look into his life. I had heard his music yet I have never been interested until now. I sincerely feel his enourmeous charisma and enchanting apearence all wrapped up in the sweet spell of his voice. How can he have such an impact having the fact that he is not with us anymore?
    However I feel compasionate for him because I believe in friendship and you were the closest he had of a friend because u tried to reach the his very trubled soul and for that please feel proud. Thank u (Luz)

  10. Yosra says:

    Thanks for this wonderful blog, i would like to ask something, was Elvis really devastated after divorce from Priscella and was it the start of his downfall (emotionally) or was that just a coincidence in timing??

    • Larry Geller says:

      Elvis was certainly unhappy about the divorce, but the only downfall he experienced in later years was related to his health. His spirits were good and he was optimistic and making plans for the future.

  11. Marlene Hirzel says:

    Was interested in how far Elvis’ interest in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings went. I feel that if Elvis took more time off to reflect and meditate, with S.R.F. and you Larry as a grounding tool, maybe he would have found that there is always an alternative to your problems, there is always a way out.
    Thanks for this site, is very interesting.
    Very Truly Yours,

    • Larry Geller says:

      Elvis did have a meditation practice, both with and without me. His relationship with the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and SRF went very deep. I wrote about this connection in my book Leaves of Elvis’ Garden, in the chapter “An Eternal Quest.”

  12. Jenny says:

    Thank you Larry for being his good friend, for making him feel at ease. love u larry

  13. Christina says:

    Hi larry ,
    This a great website for elvis fans. What year did you meet elvis? I was just curious.
    All your stories are great! I was wondering have you been to graceland since it’s been open to the public? Do you still have a friendship with lisa or priscilla? This website is great. Thankyou for sharing these great stories!

  14. Sherry says:

    I would like to ask Larry this question: Some people say that Priscilla, too, had show business ambitions from the beginning, but hid them from Elvis until she got him married.

    Of course, we all know that right after the divorce (or before) she got herself an agent. When you knew Elvis and Priscilla, did you get that impression at all?

  15. maritza saldala says:

    Good Evening, I was just a little girl of 14 when the news of Elvis passing came on the television i remember exactly where i was standing and how i froze as my mom said to me I have bad news honey, Elvis is dead. You see at that time there wasnt cellulars that could give you the minute to minute news of anything happening around the globe. No internet, nada. Anyways, i have always been of fan and love to see him in action on screen , my parent who spoke no english would keep the newspapers that had run articles on Elvis health. And i would cut them out and kept them in an album. Many many years past and i finally as an adult was able to take a trip to Graceland I remember the taxi driving in front of the house looking for the entrance to drop me off. I dont know why but i wept quitely feeling the loss all over again like if it just had happened. Well Larry I have read as much as possible about Elvis as time allows, some people write things and obviously its to make a profit. It saddens me but thats human nature. I havent read a book written by you but im going to buy one tonight on Amazon because I trully believe in my heart Elvis trusted you and in your spiritual guidance, those you dont agree are just jeolous of his confidence in you. My mother always tells me i have whats called in spanish “un ojo clinico” translation a vision into a persons soul. I dont know why and how i got that. But in my lives experience it seems to be true for me. I can just sense people and if they are good indivuals who mean well or just pure b.s. Anyway thank you for shareing your memories of Elvis, for those of us who all we will ever have is just heresay im very thankful for that. Maritza

  16. Hello Larry
    I have not written to you for a while, I hope all is well with you. I am about to complete my second series of children’s books. Did you have a chance to view my audio book, “Goshin – The Secret Revealed” on Utube. If you would like to have the full version I am happy to send one to you at no cost.
    Kind regards
    Kancho Deena Naidu

  17. I sorry I writing to you again so soon. You need to share this more as many would love to hear it. The world is about to go through great changes and we live in very interesting times. You are a light and it will shine it’s brightest as this night ( time) is at it’s darkest hour. People need to learn, people want to learn and the world is ready to learn. I loved Swami Paramanansa Yogananda he was a great inspiration to me.
    Thank you again
    Kancho Deena Naidu

  18. I had been a great fan and still is of Elvis. It is amazing that the life of Elvis has run a close parallel to mine although I have never been an entertainer. I think Elvis’s real attraction to women, although might have turned to lust in many occasions was spiritual. As I feel of the two sexes male and female is that women are closer to God than man is. They are more spiritual in many ways. Most religious institutions are filled more with women then men. What you have said in your article is very enlightening and has encouraged me to continue on my path of spirituality. This is not because it happened to Elvis it is because it is the Truth.
    I commend you for your article and I hope I can meet with you someday. You have my web site and my email address. Wonderful work, it is most interesting and thank you.
    Kind regards
    Kancho Deena Naidu
    Head teacher of Goshin
    Mobile 0405000366 or 0413 207 049 ( Sydney, Australia)
    Author of Discovering Martial Arts, Budo-ka – True Spiritual Warriors, We Are God, We are the Power of God, Goshin – The Secret Revealed.

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