Lisa Marie Presley: a famous child of the 70s who felt like a friend
I never met Lisa Marie Presley. I’ve never heard a single song from her, and I haven’t followed her celebrity whereabouts. However, I am sad. We were children together. That’s how it is, at least.
Maybe it’s a Gen X or 1970s kid thing. When I was little, she was one of the few publicly known kids who wasn’t a child actor. Adult celebrities came and went, but here is Lisa Marie, another girl my age, with a public face and name. Like me, she didn’t have a starring role in any movies or TV shows. Instead, there was the occasional photo of her dressed in a Christmas dress or something, posing with her famous sideburned dad, who loved her so much he named his plane after her. .
dads and daughters
Solidarity, my sister – I also had a sidekick father. It was the 1970s; almost all the children had a sleepy father. Our sidekick fathers weren’t world famous singers identifiable only by their first name, and didn’t have airplanes named after them. But they definitely posed for awkward family photos, looking uncomfortably sweaty and with giant lapels on their jackets, just like Elvis.
Even her name marked her as one of us. The year I was born, “Lisa” was the most popular girl’s name in America, and “Marie” certainly seemed to be one of the most popular middle names. I have close to a dozen friends who go by the name “Lisa” to this day. Gen X care homes can have an entire Lisa wing if they ever want, catering only to older Lisas. Maybe a few Kims and Amys.
The 1970s were the tough age in this country, and it was kind of a lousy time to be a kid. Events – the Vietnam War, Watergate – were grim. The sites we surrounded ourselves with weren’t much better: orange shag carpeting, avocado appliances, interlocking bottoms.
Do you know where your children are? No!
Kids in the 70s weren’t treated the way they are now. The memes are right: your parents kicked you out of the house one summer morning and didn’t expect to see you again until dinner.
If mom needs you in the meantime, good luck. You could be playing kickball, or smoking in someone’s clubhouse, or strolling along train tracks picking up smudges from your Toughskins, or knee-deep in a pond on the train. to sting a dead fish, or risk tetanus by playing capture the flag in a junkyard. You could have fun, you could be bullied, you could be bored to death. Your parents never found out, and they weren’t going to ask.
There was no social media of course, no “influencers”. Very few kids my age were famous. Lisa Marie was one of them.
losing his father
Lisa Marie had kind of disappeared from the spotlight by the time her father, Elvis, died in 1977. Of course, this was huge news that shook the world. Giant headlines and news reports were everywhere. Elvis was rightly mourned as a legendary singer.
But something inside me remembered that little girl in the photos and knew that while the world may have lost an artist, there was a child my age who had lost her father.
She was 9 years old. I was 9. My dad wasn’t Elvis and he didn’t have a plane to name me. We didn’t have Elvis money, or first-class air travel, or fancy homes.
But Lisa Marie and I were both 9, and I was 10, 11, 16, 25, and 40, and my dad was always there, offering advice and making bad dad jokes and showing up for my school duties. Applauding for me at plays, teaching me to drive, walking down the aisle, cooing about my little girl. Lisa Marie didn’t understand. Hundreds of millions of dollars couldn’t buy that.
This Graceland Swing
Lisa Marie made headlines when I was growing up. Her life seemed more surreal and complicated than those simple 1970s father and daughter photos. She became a mom while I was still finishing school and trying to find a way. She married Michael Jackson, and later Nicolas Cage. She had come a long way since her youth. We obviously had very little in common other than our birth years.
But when I visited Graceland in 2017, I once again felt a kinship with Lisa Marie. Graceland is a big house, but it’s not a Kardashian mansion. It looked instantly familiar to me – an awkwardly decorated 1970s house, with shag carpeting and bulky tube TVs and a game room with a fabric ceiling and a tear in the pool table canvas. where a family friend attempted a trick and messed up the top.
The 1970s style red, white and blue metallic swing set in the back looked a lot like a million swing sets I had played on. We lived the bicentenary together, Lisa Marie and I, and everything was painted in red, white and blue.
Lisa Marie led a complicated life. The luxuries she experienced and the challenges she faced, good and bad, are ones I will never understand. But her precocious and innocent fame burned so big and bright that I never forgot her. Ultimately, she was a mother and daughter, a singer and songwriter, a businesswoman — she was many things.
But my Gen X heart will mourn her as a little child with the dozing father, who lost her way too soon.