During Presley's rising career, Gladys became despairing, depressed and lonely and began to neglect her health. She put on weight and began to drink everyday. She'd wanted Elvis to succeed, "but not so that he would be apart from her. The hysteria of the crowd frightened her.". Doctors diagnosed liver problems, and Gladys's condition worsened. At that time, Elvis was still staying in Fort Hood, Texas, to fulfill his military obligations, but he got emergency leave to see her, and a special plane was chartered to bring him home. There he spent two days with his mother. However, shortly after his return to Fort Hood, Gladys died on August, 14, 1958. When he heard that his mother had died, Elvis was "sobbing and crying hysterically", and eye-witnesses relate that he was "grieving almost constantly" for days. During and shortly after the funeral, Judy Spreckels and Nick Adams, Presley's best friends at that time, attempted to comfort the singer.
Presley's first sweetheart was the fifteen-year-old Dixie Locke, whom the singer dated steadily since graduating from Humes and during his Sun Records time. While still a rising star, Presley also had a relationship with June Juanico, who is said to have been the only girl his mother ever approved of, but according to Juanico's own words, she "never had sex with Presley. In June Juanico's book Elvis in the Twilight of Memory she stated she was afraid of getting pregnant. However, since the singer's death many claims to relationships have been made by women who were no more than acquaintances or had short affairs which were exaggerated for personal gain. Juanico even blames Elvis's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, for encouraging Presley to go out with beautiful women only "for the publicity".
Between 1954 and 1956, when his stardom began to rise, Presley became the subject of adulation and adoration of young Hollywood starlets such as Natalie Wood, Judy Tyler, Shelley Fabares, and Connie Stevens. His mother believed that Wood was a schemer who hoped to "snare" the singer only "for publicity purposes. When a columnist wanted to know if the romance with Presley was "serious," Natalie's cool answer was, "Not right now." "But who knows what will happen? One of her judgments of Elvis was, "He can sing but he can't do much else.
However, it is unclear whether the "sex symbol" actually had sex with most of the women he dated. His early girlfriends Judy Spreckels and June Juanico say that they had no sexual relationships with Presley. Raphael and Alanna Nash have stated that the star "would never put himself inside one of these girls... According to Albert Goldman, the reason for "never [having] normal sexual relations with these girls" was that "Elvis was a voyeur. What he sought as his erotic goal was a group of girls who would agree to strip down to their panties and wrestle with each other..." During his military service, he had "discovered prostitutes and picked up the intense fear of sexually transmitted diseases which led to claims that he had a morbid fear of sexual penetration. Because of his shyness, Goldman says, "no woman ever saw Elvis undressed."
June Juanico "recalls a time when she stood up to Elvis in front of his band of hangers-on, who even then were beginning to accompany him everywhere. He grabbed her arm, took her into the bathroom and declared: 'Look, you are so right, I am really sorry.' He kept her there for five minutes, then swaggered out, his image intact." Julie Parrish, Presley's co-star in Paradise Hawaiian Style, relates, "One time on set I had a real pain in my side - a side-effect, I think - and Elvis scooped me up, carried me into his trailer and shut the door. Outside the crew was waiting and wondering, but Elvis was oblivious to the innuendo. He placed his hand over my side and tried to do some healing on me. Playboy star and actress June Wilkinson remembered that she "met Elvis on the set of King Creole. He invited me to dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. ... Then Elvis gave me a tour of his suite, sat me on the bed in his bedroom and sang to me for two hours. That was it. The next day ... we had dinner again. He was very sweet, and he was friendly. He had more than sex on his mind. He got me to the airport on time, and our paths never crossed again.
However, the singer was not always sweet and friendly towards women. When Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford, visited Presley, they were watching Bonanza in the TV room. "Elvis had been puffing on a cigar ... as Christina tickled him and kidded around, apparently seeking more direct attention." Suddenly, as Buzz Cason relates, "she slung the contents of her cocktail glass right into Elvis's face. ... The cigar went 'phhhtttt' and he jumped up. ... He grabbed her by the hair. 'Get this bitch out of here!' he screamed, leading her toward the front door as she struggled to keep up with the rather quick pace as he was pulling her locks. Turmoil ensued as the 'boys' scrambled to assist trying to prevent too big of a scene.
Peggy Lipton claims that Presley was "virtually impotent" with her. She attributed his impotence to his boyishness and heavy drug abuse. Cassandra Peterson, better known as "Elvira', says she knew Presley for only one night and all they did was talk. Priscilla Presley and Suzanne Finstad also claim that the singer wasn't overtly sexually active.
These claims are directly contradicted by comments from actresses like Cybill Shepherd, who acknowledged her affair with the singer and said to have introduced Elvis to certain amorous techniques. However, the "much-quoted claims that she taught him the joys of oral sex is viewed with skepticism by other lovers of the King. In an interview, Shepherd reveals that Presley kissed her all over her naked body - but refused to have oral sex with her. His slow tender kisses ended at her bellybutton. Elvis explained to her, "Me and the guys talk and, well, white boys don't eat pussy." She always knew their relationship was doomed and they wouldn't last as a couple. She says, "The fact is, Elvis got hooked on speed in the army. ... Then it got out of control. Did I want to be with someone who would have dragged me down? The only way to have stayed with Elvis was by doing drugs..
In her memoir, Ann-Margret (Presley's co-star in Viva Las Vegas) refers to Presley as her "soulmate", but very little is revealed about their long-rumored romance, only that "in a moment of tenderness" he bought her a round bed in hot pink colors.
On the other hand, Elvis dated many female co-stars from his movies primarily for publicity purposes. 17-year-old actress Lori Williams and the singer, for instance, went together for a while "between the making of Roustabout and Kissin' Cousins." She says their "courtship was not some bizarre story. It was very sweet and Elvis was the perfect gentleman." She also claims that Ann-Margret "was the love of his life. Significantly, there was a great publicity campaign about the romance between Elvis and Ann-Margret during the 1963 filming of Viva Las Vegas and the following weeks, which helped to increase the popularity of the young Hollywood beauty. Ann-Margret remained close to Presley for the remainder of his life and also attended his funeral.
It should be noted that the vast majority of books (including both of Guralnick's books) on Presley contain details of his many romances and alleged affairs including many while he was married to Priscilla. It has also been reported that Presley "adored to fondle and suck women's toes, and those in his entourage who were given the job of choosing companions for him would often be asked to check the girls' feet. However, Guralnick writes that for "the more experienced girls it wasn't like with other Hollywood stars or even with other more sophisticated boys they knew." Although they offered to do things for Presley, "he wasn't really interested. What he liked to do was to lie in bed and watch television and eat and talk all night...
Presley had met Beaulieu in Germany while stationed there with the U.S. Army. She was only 14 years old when the singer began dating her. At that time, he even had a younger girl living in his house. Therefore, authors such as Albert Goldman have gone so far as to call Presley a "pedophile". "Elvis plays the strutting, overbearing macho in public, but in private he loves nothing better than to roughhouse with teenage girls with whom he exchanges beauty secrets. His basic erotic image is a crotch covered with white panties and showing a bit of pubic hair -- an image no different essentially from male to female. Indeed, Elvis relationships were primarily with relatively young women. Elvis biographer Alanna Nash also confirms that the singer had a predilection for young adolescent girls. The author says that Presley was overly attached to his mother and could not relate normally to mature women; presumably, Presley sought out very young girls because he felt threatened by women his own age. However, his relationship with Priscilla seems to have remained platonic until she was of age.
Presley and Beaulieu were married on May 1, 1967 in Las Vegas, Nevada and daughter Lisa Marie was born nine months later on February 1, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. In her book, Elvis and Me, Priscilla describes her daily life with her husband. She also says that Presley became fascinated with the occult and metaphysical phenomena and an addict to prescription drugs, which dramatically changed his personality from playful to being passive and introverted. After five years of marriage Presley and Beaulieu separated on February 23, 1972, agreeing to share custody of their daughter. When Priscilla left him for her karate teacher Mike Stone, the singer's "ego was damaged beyond repair. ... Considering Presley's status as a universal sex symbol ..., it is unlikely he was able to put this situation in any type of perspective other than having not been 'man enough' to hold his woman. According to Billy Stanley, he "wasn't the same person" as before.
Freudian and other sexual psychologists say that Presley is a "classic example of the mother/Madonna/whore split." He "adored his mother and never recovered from her early death." He met Priscilla "when she was 14. She became a mother at 22. It is said that Elvis never made love to her again after the birth of his daughter, and would never have sex with a woman who had had a baby. He did not remarry after his divorce from Priscilla and did not have any more children.
According to Elvis biographer Alanna Nash, Presley had gone impotent in his final years, due at least in part to extremely massive intake of narcotics, both uppers and downers. His "drug protocol," says Nash, "was so intense and stultifying that often he would get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and never make it back to bed..." As time passed, the rock legend's drug abuse took an increasing toll: his weight ballooned to 250+ pounds and eager groupies expecting a hot night with the sex symbol found instead that he was unable to perform sexually. Equally important, "Elvis occasionally lost control of his bladder and bowels, which meant more than one woman awoke to find a surprise in the bed.
According to Peter Guralnick, for Elvis and the guys "Hollywood was just an open invitation to party all night long. Sometimes they would hang out with Sammy Davis, Jr., or check out Bobby Darin at the Cloister. Nick Adams and his gang came by the suite all the time, not to mention the eccentric actor Billy Murphy ... When Buzz Cason asked Lamar Fike "how Elvis did it – this partying nearly every night," he "answered, 'A little somethin' to get down and a little something to get up.' Obviously, he was referring to the pills that started a trend that sadly in only a few years would lead to Elvis's untimely death.
Samuel Roy says that "Elvis' bodyguards, Red and Sonny West and Dave Hebler, apparently loved Elvis—especially Red ... ; these bodyguards showed loyalty to Elvis and demonstrated it in the ultimate test. When bullets were apparently fired at Elvis in Las Vegas, the bodyguards threw themselves in front of Elvis, forming a shield to protect him." The author adds that the people who surrounded Presley "lived, for the most part, in isolation from the rest of the world, losing touch with every reality except that of his 'cult' and his power.
According to Presley expert Elaine Dundy, "Of all Elvis' new friends, Nick Adams, by background and temperament the most insecure, was also his closest. Guralnick confirms that the singer "was hanging out more and more with Nick and his friends" and that Elvis was glad Colonel Tom Parker "liked Nick. In her recent Elvis biography Kathleen Tracy wrote that Adams was Elvis's regular friend and often met the singer backstage or at Graceland. "He and Elvis would go motorcycle riding late at night and stay up until all hours talking about the pain of celebrity." Both men also enjoyed prescription drugs, and Elvis often asked Adams "to stay over on nights. June Wilkinson also confirms that the singer "had an entourage who spoke with Southern accents. The only one I remember was Nick Adams, the actor. "It has since been speculated in Hollywood gossip that Presley and Adams may have shared some sort of intimate encounter. But there's no definitive evidence one way or another. However, Albert Goldman has suggested that the singer's alleged promiscuity masked latent homosexuality. "What Elvis projected through his epoch-making act," the author says, "was not just the enormous sexual excitement of puberty but its androgynous quality. Much of Elvis' power over young girls came not just from the act that he embodied their erotic fantasies but that he likewise projected frankly feminine traits with which they could identify. ... When you dig down to the sexual roots of an Elvis Presley, you sense a profound sexual ambivalence."
It should be noted in this connection that "many teen idols were rumored to be gay, or 'funny,' as the slang of the day might term them. The teen magazines seemed to actively encourage such rumors, ... characterizing each teen idol ... as shy, quiet, sensitive, artistic – all code terms for gay. Elvis performed with swiveling hips and fluttering wrists, gestures so flamboyant that he had to be surrounded by a dozen girls at all times just to minimize suspicion.
All of the singer's friendships are documented by many photographs.