When Michael Jackson’s secret marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was unveiled in 1994, people accused him of marrying to fix his public image. His marriage to Elvis Presley’s daughter had come just one year after his out-of-court settlement with Jordie Chandler over child abuse allegations.
The wedding announcement was made in a statement to the media on August 1, 1994, which stated: “My married name is Mrs. Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson. My marriage to Michael Jackson took place in a private ceremony outside the United States weeks ago. I am very much in love with Michael, I dedicate my life to being his wife. I understand and support him. We both look forward to raising a family.”
The statement shocked the world, and people had doubts about it until the two were seen together at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 8, 1994, just weeks after that surprising statement.
“Welcome to the MTV Video Music Awards,” Jackson said, with Presley by his side. “I’m very happy to be here. Just think, nobody thought this would last.” To show his affection for Presley, Jackson kissed her in front of the large crowd. The two then walked off the stage.
For those who still had doubts, a marriage certificate dated May 26, 1994, proved that the two got married in a secret ceremony in the Dominican Republic. Jackson was 37 while Presley was 27.
Presley had grown up on the famous Graceland estate in Memphis at a time her father was already a music icon. Her mother divorced him when she was four. So she spent her time between Tennessee at her dad’s and at Los Angeles, where her mother was.
At the age of seven, she met Jackson at one of her dad’s concerts in Las Vegas. Jackson, who was then 17, was part of the Jackson Five. Despite the almost huge age gap between Jackson and Presley, the two became friends. When they reconnected in November 1992, Presley was then married to her first husband, Danny Keough. They had two children. Jackson was at the time also being accused of child molestation. The two nevertheless started seeing each other.
Reports said they often spent time in a park in Trump Tower in New York City, where they would “hold hands, kiss and cuddle, stare into each other’s eyes and look out at the stars.” Donald Trump in a 1994 interview said Jackson and Presley vacationed at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida’s Palm Beach.
As soon as Presley finalized her divorce from Keough, she married Jackson. But the two soon started having problems in their marriage, with Presley later blaming it on drugs. In a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Presley said Jackson abused drugs. She recalled the singer collapsing on stage during a 1995 HBO special rehearsal. “I couldn’t tell what was happening. Dehydration. Low blood pressure. Exhaustion. A virus?” she said in the interview.
Winfrey asked, “What did your gut tell you? You thought there was some drug use?” Presley replied, “Yes.”
Presley and Jackson also never agreed about having a child. Presley told Winfrey she hesitated because of fears she might get into a custody battle with him. The couple continued to face challenges to the point where Jackson had to make a decision. “Was it the drugs and the vampires or me? And he pushed me away,” Presley told Winfrey, defining the “vampires” as “people that are sort of… sycophants,” according to Biography.
By January 18, 1996, Presley and Jackson were divorced, with Presley’s publicist saying that the couple have mutually agreed to go their separate ways.
“It didn’t seem to be a natural relationship or a friendship,” Sandy Domz, who worked as an administrative assistant at the Neverland Ranch, told CBS documentary Inside Edition amid rumors that the relationship between the singer and Presley was fake.
She claimed: “Michael would get a hold of some underwear and throw them on the floor.
“They were also sprayed with perfume and it was to make it look like Lisa Marie had been in the bedroom.
“But to my knowledge, she was never in there. She was either in the Rose Room or had slept on the guest beds,” Domz said.
Despite their short-lived marriage, the two talked often and remained good friends. The last time they talked was in 2005, four years before Jackson’s death. Presley wrote a blog post the day Jackson died, regretting not doing more for Jackson.
“The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the L.A. County Coroner’s office for his autopsy,” Presley wrote. “All my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell, and right now, I am gutted.”