In Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla,’ the titular character becomes the center of attention despite Elvis Presley being the other lead in the story. The movie explores the beginning of a complicated romance between the two, especially considering their age gap. Priscilla was barely 16 when Elvis asked her parents for their permission to let their daughter come and live in Memphis with him. Despite their initial doubts about the thing, they let her go, but it was made clear that Priscilla would have to go through with her graduation or come back home forever. Despite the importance of the rule levied on her, we see Priscilla struggling with her studies. What did it mean for her graduation?
Priscilla Used Her Connection With Elvis to Pass an Exam
When Priscilla came to Memphis, she was enrolled in Immaculate Conception High School. One of her father’s conditions was for her to finish her education with flying colors. She was also prohibited from staying at Graceland and was, in fact, expected to be living with Elvis’ father and stepmother instead. The second rule was broken pretty quickly. As she started spending more and more of her time with Elvis, she ended up being in Graceland so much that her entire stuff was moved there for good.
Despite knowing the importance her graduation held in her future with Elvis, Priscilla couldn’t concentrate on her studies as much as she would have wanted to. Going to school during the day was made difficult by the long nights she spent out partying with Elvis. She’d end up taking pills to keep herself awake, but it didn’t help in the long run.
On the day of her algebra final, Priscilla drew a complete blank when it came to the answers. The girl next to her, however, seemed to be doing rather well. According to Priscilla, in her book ‘Elvis and Me,’ she’d downed a Dexedrine that morning and was so hyper from it that she couldn’t concentrate. When it felt like she’d fail the exam (which she couldn’t afford to) if she didn’t do something, she decided to cheat.
The girl on the next seat was a straight-A student named Janet. Priscilla asked her if she was an Elvis fan and if she’d like to attend a party with him present. Naturally, the girl understood what was being asked of her, so she quietly slid her sheet towards Priscilla, from which the latter could copy the answers. Priscilla got an A for that exam and graduated from school.
Priscilla and Elvis Mutually Decided for Him Not to Attend Her Graduation
As eager as Elvis was to attend Priscilla’s graduation, he didn’t do it. Instead, he waited for her outside, in his car, in a gesture to support her and “kinda be there” for her. This decision was made considering Elvis’ popularity. Priscilla knew that the moment Elvis walked into the room, the whole crowd would lose their minds, and all of them would be entirely focused on just him. This would be unfair to the students graduating that day as it would take away the spotlight from them on the day that means so much to them.
Both Priscilla and Elvis decided that it wouldn’t be fair to the graduates. So, Elvis stayed behind. According to Sister Mary Adrien, then-principle of Immaculate Conception, this act was a display of Elvis’ sensitivity, and she highly appreciated it. The point was proven when after the ceremony, everyone in attendance ran out of the door to see Elvis, who met his fans calmly and signed autographs as everyone tried to have some time with him.
While Elvis may have received the attention of the public, he made the rest of the evening entirely about Priscilla. He gave her a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair as a graduation gift, though reportedly, he didn’t sit next to her in it a lot because he didn’t like the idea of being driven around by a woman. When the couple returned to Graceland, a graduation party was held to celebrate this milestone in Priscilla’s life, especially considering how much the fate of her relationship with Elvis depended on the outcome of her education. If she hadn’t graduated, she’d have been called back by her parents, and she’d never have married Elvis.
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