“I’m so happy to be here,” Jackson told the audience. Then he looked at Presley, who was smiling but also looking nervous. “And just think, no one thought this would last.”
Then Jackson took off his sunglasses, leaned in and kissed Presley. The four-second kiss generated some of the loudest cheers of the night from the crowd and captured headlines from media outlets around the world – some believe they watched the couple consummate their marriage on national television.
They were the biggest component of show business. And Presley hated it.
“He knew I didn’t like it,” she told Oprah Winfrey about the infamous kiss in a 2010 interview after Jackson’s death in 2009. And his hand was blue after we got out of that stage. … I pressed him hard. … But as his wife, I needed to do some things like that.”
The unforgettable moment in pop culture nearly 30 years ago would be one of many that followed Presley for the rest of her life. Presley died Thursday in a California hospital at the age of 54. Her mother, Priscilla, announced her death just hours after Presley was taken to the hospital from her home in Calabasas, California. The cause of death was not revealed.
Decades before they were married, Presley and Jackson met in Las Vegas in 1974 during one of the Jackson family’s shows at the MGM Grand, according to J. Randy Tarraporelli’s 2009 book, “Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story, 1958-2009.” Presley was, who was 6 at the time, is a huge fan of the Jacksons, especially Michael, who was 16 at the time.
“I’ve always loved him,” Presley Jackson recalled in the 2009 book. “Michael charmed me with his talent. I loved watching him dance. He wanted to get to know me better, but I always thought he was a weirdo. I really didn’t want to get to know him better than I already knew.”
The two met again years later in the early 1990s at a private dinner hosted by artist Brett Livingston Strong, a mutual friend in Los Angeles. At that point, Presley was trying to find herself a singer. Danny Keogh, her husband, Taraborelli writes, produced a few songs for her, but she was not confident in herself as an artist and was afraid of being compared to her legendary father.
That changed once Jackson listened to her tapes and told Presley that she had “a real talent”—a compliment that impressed the young artist. Strong recalled in a 2009 book that as the two were leaving the party, Jackson shot Presley a piercing glance and said, “You and I, we could get in a lot of trouble. Think about it, girl.”
From there, the two chatted on the phone to the point that Presley felt like she was seeing an entirely different side of Jackson. When rumors that they were together intensified, they met at Trump Tower in New York thanks to Jackson’s friend, Donald Trump, who later boasted, “I’ve known this secret for a long time.” Less than a month after she divorced Keough in 1994, Jackson proposed over the phone. Presley and Jackson married in a private ceremony in the Dominican Republic.
Months earlier, Jackson had reached an out-of-court settlement over allegations of child abuse in a deal his lawyers said admitted no guilt. Concerned about his failing health and addiction to painkillers, Presley said she “wanted to save him. I felt I could do it,” according to Taraborelli’s book. Part of that means letting the world know that her marriage to Jackson wasn’t a publicity stunt.
“My married name is Mrs. Lisa Marie Presley Jackson,” she said in a statement to the media after the ceremony. “I love Michael very much, and I dedicate my life to being his wife. I understand and support him. We are both looking forward to raising a family.”
As the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards got under way, the announcer inside Radio City Music Hall turned the award show into a wedding, introducing the newlyweds to the audience for the first time: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson!”
Sally Frattini, who helped officiate the MTV Video Music and Movie Awards shows for nearly two decades, recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 2002 that MTV employees were “surprised” Presley and Jackson went with the idea of producers to headline his scenes.
“We came to them with the whole concept [including the kiss]“But I’m sure Michael ad-libbed,” the producer said. “We got them in a private door and locked them in a private space. We kept it very quiet. They went down and did what they wanted, and when that was over, they left.”
Newspapers around the world led their coverage of the awards show with the kiss, and pundits had a field day with what they saw. In The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jackson was “as inhuman as ever in a black military blazer,” while Presley looked “relatively normal in an elegant two-piece dress.” The New York Daily News wrote that Presley “looked pretty awkward”. The Daily Telegraph in Great Britain claimed that Jackson forced Presley into a “grotesque display of public affection”.
Tony Parsons of the paper wrote: “Few happily married men feel the desire to kiss their spouses in front of an audience, especially one of 250 million people.” “But Michael Jackson is either too in love or too desperate.”
Presley filed for divorce from Jackson in 1996, citing irreconcilable differences, but later said that she and Jackson considered reconciliation for years after their marriage ended. In their last conversation in 2005, Jackson asked Presley if she was still in love with him. Presley, who years later admitted to Winfrey that she distanced herself from any affection for Jackson, told her ex-husband she felt indifferent to him. She said the answer made him cry.
She once said of her marriage, “This is part of the problem with my love life.” “I am looking for someone similar [my father]And no one can compare. “
But they always had that New York kiss.