She later said that she ended her first marriage in part because the wealth and power disparity between her and Keough made him resent her. “It is hard for a man to be with a woman who is stronger, wealthier,” she said years later. “So in my mind I’m thinking, I know, I’ll get with someone more compatible. I wasn’t thinking what everyone else was thinking, which was that I must have been out of my mind.”
The more compatible man was Michael Jackson, whom she’d been friends with for years (he repeatedly called during her teenage years trying to meet her, and she finally agreed after he said he would listen to her demo tape). They had a lot in common, including extreme wealth, entire lives lived in the glare of cameras, and traumatic childhoods. Jackson was a victim of physical abuse and, it was rumored, sexual abuse, at the hands of his manager-father, whom Jackson’s sister Janet said also molested her as a girl. Jackson and Presley wed in 1994 in the Dominican Republic and denied and then confirmed tabloid reports that it happened. The first round of child molestation accusations against Jackson hit long before their marriage. Jackson had convinced her that the charges weren’t true. Even after the divorce, and multiple new accusations, Presley refused to take a side on the matter.
But she did say, “Leaving my first marriage, for the person that I left it for—that was probably the biggest mistake of my life.”
Then she wed Nicolas Cage, whose performances sometimes channeled Elvis—particularly in Wild at Heartin which he sang “Love Me Tender,” and Honeymoon in Vegaswhich featured multiple Elvis impersonators and had a wall-to-wall soundtrack of Presley songs. The marriage was over in 14 weeks, and Cage would later describe it as “a big mistake.”
Cage met her at a party: “There she was, these beautiful eyes that looked like they had a sad story to tell.” He thought about his Elvis-adjacent career up to that point (which was not, he insisted, the product of design) and thought, “Maybe all these crazy coincidences were all about this one moment where I met this one girl who stopped me in my tracks…And I [thought]well, she comes from an artistic family, I come from an artistic family. She was born with the pressure of an extremely famous name from day one. I was a young actor with the last name Coppola trying to make it in Hollywood with those pressures.”
They fought constantly and broke up multiple times before and during the marriage before finally splitting permanently. One fight, which happened on Cage’s yacht off Catalina a few weeks before the wedding, got so heated that Presley removed her $65,000 engagement ring and hurled it into the sea; Cage hired a team of divers to find it, but after two days they gave up, saying it was hopeless. She accused Cage of being hot-tempered and creepily obsessed with her father. Cage denied this to Barbara Walterssaying “We weren’t gonna buy Graceland. We were never gonna live in Graceland. I wasn’t going to build Graceland on top of a ranch somewhere.”