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Elvis Presley Refused Priscilla’s Advice Because She Was a Woman

As Elvis Presley’s career began to decline, Priscilla Presley felt desperate to help him. She could see how his disappointing music sales and unchallenging film career frustrated him. Any time she tried to offer advice, though, he lashed out at her. Sometimes, he reacted violently. Other times, he warned her against trying to counsel him. He believed that women had no place in his affairs.

Elvis Presley told Priscilla she shouldn’t be advising him on anything

One of Elvis’ biggest career frustrations occurred when his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and his label began to change the sound of his music. This was the part of his career he valued the most, and he wanted to have creative control. When they began to take that away from him, his spirits tanked.

“Elvis could handle only so much and then he’d lose heart,” Priscilla wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “He’d put up with the horrendous movies, but now they were tampering with his songs.”

Priscilla encouraged him to stand up to Parker, which Elvis resented.

“I wanted desperately to help him, but I wasn’t sure how,” Priscilla wrote. “In my innocence, I kept trying to convince him to argue with the Colonel. But he would only get angry, saying I didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Elvis would speak to his father about his problems. When Priscilla tried to give him advice, though, he grew frustrated. He didn’t think any woman should have an opinion on his affairs. He thought women existed to support him, not offer their opinions.

“Whenever I stated my own opinions too strongly, especially if they differed from his, he’d remind me that his was the stronger sex, and as a woman, I had my place,” Priscilla wrote. “He liked to say that it was intended for a woman to be on the left side of a man, close to his heart, where she gives him strength through her support.”

Elvis Presley sometimes flew into a rage when Priscilla Presley gave him advice

Elvis snapped with frustration when Priscilla gave any sort of opinion about his career. When he asked her what she thought of his album, and she told him he should make more music like “Jailhouse Rock,” he angrily told her to keep her opinions to herself.

Sometimes, his rage was violent. When Priscilla told him there was a “catchiness” missing from an album after he asked what she thought, he flew into a rage.

“To my horror, a chair came hurtling toward me,” she wrote. “I moved out of the way just in time, but there were stacks of records piled on it, and one of them flew off and hit me in the face. Within seconds, he had me in his arms, apologizing frantically.”

She wished she could help him navigate his emotions

Priscilla began to keep her opinions to herself, but she agonized over her inability to help Elvis. Eventually, the stress of the situation made her sick.

“I would put on my brightest smile, my prettiest dress — and my phoniest personality — and try to rouse his spirits,” she wrote. “When I couldn’t get him out of the dumps, he would shut himself up all day in his room. This left me devastated. Afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, I suppressed my real feelings and eventually developed an ulcer.”

Priscilla felt she was “compromising [her] standards” by keeping quiet. Still, she felt it was the best way to keep her relationship stable.

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