In Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla,’ we see Elvis Presley from a different lens. The singer has been the subject of several movies and TV shows over the years, with Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ being the latest addition. However, all of the movies follow from the perspective of Presley. With ‘Priscilla,’ we see him in a different color. The film follows a young Priscilla’s entry into Presley’s extravagant world and the impact it has on her. When the young girl first comes to Graceland, she is warmly received by Alberta. Who was she, and why was she important to Elvis?
Alberta Holman was a Close Friend of Elvis’s Mother
Before Alberta Holman worked at Graceland, she worked at Britling Cafeteria in Memphis with Elvis’s mother, Gladys. They were such good friends that when Elvis broke into stardom and bought a place for his family in Audubon, Gladys brought Alberta on board as well. Later, when Elvis bought Graceland, Alberta followed them there as well. She was the only maid to have worked at both of Presley’s homes.
Due to her close connection to Gladys, after her death, Alberta held a special place for Elvis. She is said to have made him the meal of bacon, hashbrowns, and black-eyed peas, the same that Gladys used to make for him. She was nicknamed Alberta VO5 by Elvis, after the hair product brand Alberto VO5.
Alberta spent many years with the Presley family, and she even received a car as a gift. Reportedly, during the Montgomery bus boycott, Elvis gifted her a car in 1956, as it allowed her freedom to travel by her own means and not be subjected to racism in segregated buses in East Memphis. The King is reportedly said to have repeated this gesture for several other members of the staff by gifting them cars, with one of them even receiving a house.
Elvis is also said to have confided in Alberta during one very complicated situation. Reportedly, Elvis had been on edge about his wedding with Priscilla. One day, shortly before the wedding day, Alberta found him crying. When she asked him what happened, he talked about his fears about the upcoming wedding. During the conversation, she asked Elvis to call off the wedding if he didn’t feel sure about it. It was not worth going forward with if it was going to make him unhappy. However, Elvis is said to have replied that he didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Nothing much is known about Alberta’s life apart from her time with the Presley family. She appears in ‘Priscilla’ as a kind and considerate person who takes care of the young Priscilla, knowing how odd it must be for her to move so many miles away from her family when she was still a teenager. Considering how long Alberta remained with Elvis and his family, she must have closely witnessed the highs and lows in Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship and must have been held in high regard by Elvis for him to confide his insecurities in her.
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