Priscilla Presley Recalls The Heartbreak Of Learning That Her Dad Wasn't Her Biological Father

Date January 16, 2019

Priscilla Presley’s life story has been everything but usual, and not just because of her troubled marriage to the King of Rock-and-Roll and giving birth to his only child.


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READ ALSO: Priscilla Presley: Revisiting Elvis' Final Days, Drug Abuse Was 'Difficult'

A strange thing happened to teen Priscilla about a year before she met Elvis, and it changed her life forever. Suzanne Finstad, the author of Priscilla’s (unauthorized) biography titled The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, told Daily Journal:

She was reared in a very unusual family ambience. They chose to lie to her and say that her (stepfather) was her father. Then, one day she comes upon a trunk with photographs of her real father. It was an extremely traumatic moment for her.


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The moment Priscilla found out the family secret

When she was 13, Priscilla was living with her mom Ann Beaulieu and Paul Beaulieu, the man she had thought was her father.

One day, she was babysitting her younger sister and brother while her parents were at a party. The kids fell asleep and Priscilla got bored, so she went to her parents’ bedroom. As she was “mulling through things”, she stumbled upon an old trunk she had never seen before.

READ ALSO: Priscilla Presley Claims Elvis Loved Her Deeply: 'Our Marriage Was Very Important To Him'

Overcome by curiosity, Priscilla opened the trunk and saw pictures and letters her parents had hidden so carefully. She saw letters from her mother to a man named Jimmy and his replies to her, and pictures of her mother with a man she’d never seen. In one picture, Priscilla saw the man and mom holding her, Finstad wrote in the book. They looked like a family! Priscilla looked at the back of the picture and saw the words written by her mom: “Mommy, Daddy, Priscilla.”


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Priscilla said in the book:

I kept finding more pictures, and finding more pictures, and finding certificates. Finding my life, you know, in front of me! That was different from what I knew.


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(Actor Jack Nicholson was just as shocked when he learned the truth about his birth and the identity of his mom.)

Shell-shocked, Priscilla called her mother who was still at the party and implored her to come home. She was eager to hear the whole truth. Priscilla recalled her first reaction to the discovery:

First you go into denial it’s somebody else. And then you go into shock. That you’ve been betrayed. That someone has lied to you. You have so many different emotions that peak. I was in hysterics.


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Priscilla’s mom rushed home to calm her down. She had no choice but to explain it to her daughter as it was: Priscilla’s biological dad was a navy pilot named James Wagner. He loved Priscilla dearly but wasn’t in her life for long; he died in a plane crash when she was a baby.

Ann met Priscilla’s stepdad, Paul, a few years after her first husband, James, died. Paul treated Priscilla as his own child and legally adopted her after marrying her mom. If only there were more stepdads like him! (Hollywood does have some of these wonderful men, such as Kurt Russel)

Priscilla loved her stepdad

Although it was hard for Priscilla to come to terms with what she’d found out, she loved Paul, the man who raised her and was the father of her half-siblings. And she kept calling him “dad”.

Paul passed away in January 2018, and Priscilla wrote a touching post on Facebook after he died.

They still had that father-daughter bond, and Priscilla’s discovery at age 13 could never take that away.

READ ALSO: Priscilla Presley Celebrates Elvis' 84th Birthday With An Intimate Photo: "He'll Always Be Timeless!"