Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jackson and the MTV VMA Awards kiss


The curtain rose and the crowd inside New York’s Radio City Music Hall went wild for the music royalty who were now the most famous – and unlikely – newlyweds in the world.

They were Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” who battled a slew of allegations of child sexual abuse, and Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of the “King of Rock-and-Roll” Elvis Presley and a singer who tried to come out of it. big shadow of father to make his own mark on the music industry. Anticipation was high when the couple made their first public appearance on September 8, 1994 at the MTV Video Music Awards.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Jackson told the audience. He then looked over at Presley, who was smiling but also looking nervous. “And just think, no one thought it would last.”

Then Jackson took off his sunglasses, leaned in and kissed Presley. The four-second kiss drew the loudest cheers of the night from the crowd and dominated media headlines around the world – with some claiming to have witnessed the couple consummating their marriage on national television.

They were the biggest thing in show business. And Presley hated it.

“He knew I didn’t love it,” she told Oprah Winfrey of the infamous kiss in a 2010 interview after Jackson died in 2009. “I’d be there, awkwardly. And his hand was blue after we left the stage. … I had squeezed it so hard. … But as his wife, I had to do something like that.”

A memorable moment in pop culture almost 30 years ago would be one of many that would follow Presley for the rest of his life. Presley died on Thursday in a hospital in California, aged 54. The death was announced in a statement from her mother, Priscilla, just hours after Presley was taken to hospital from her home in Calabasas, California. No cause of death was given.

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Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, died on January 12 after a brief hospital stay. She was 54 years old. (Video: Allie Caren, Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Decades before they married, Presley and Jackson met in Las Vegas in 1974 at one of the Jackson family’s shows at the MGM Grand, according to author J. Randy Taraborrelli’s 2009 book, “Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story, 1958 -2009.” Presley, who was 6 at the time, was a huge Jackson fan, especially Michael, who was 16 at the time.

“I always liked him,” Presley recalled of Jackson in the book in 2009. “Michael impressed me with his talent. I loved watching him dance. He wanted to get to know me better, but I always thought he was kind of weird. I really didn’t want to get to know him better than I already did.

The two met again years later in the early 1990s at a private dinner hosted by artist Brett-Livingstone Strong, a mutual friend in Los Angeles. At that point, Presley was trying to find herself as a singer. Her husband Danny Keough had produced a handful of songs for her, but she had little confidence in herself as an artist and was afraid to be compared to her legendary father, Taraborrelli.

That changed when Jackson listened to her recordings and told Presley she had “real talent” – a compliment that warmed the young artist. Strong recalled in the 2009 book that as the two were leaving the party, Jackson snapped at Presley, saying, “You and me, we could be in a lot of trouble.” Think about it, girl.”

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From there, the two talked so much on the phone that Presley felt like she was seeing a completely different side of Jackson. As rumors intensified that they were together, they would meet 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 split from Keough in 1994, Jackson proposed over the phone. Presley and Jackson married in a private ceremony in the Dominican Republic.

Months earlier, Jackson had settled out of court over claims of child abuse in a deal that his lawyers said did not admit any wrongdoing. Worried about his failing health and addiction to painkillers, Presley said he “wanted to save him.” I felt I could,” according to Taraborrelli’s book. Part of that meant letting the world know that her marriage to Jackson was not a publicity stunt.

“My name is Mrs. Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson,” she said in a statement to the media after the ceremony. “I am very much in love with Michael and dedicate my life to being his wife. I understand him and support him. We are both looking forward to raising a family.”

As the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards were about to begin, the announcer at Radio City Music Hall turned the awards show into a wedding reception and introduced the newlyweds to the public for the first time: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. and Mrs. . Michael Jackson!”

Salli Frattini, who helped oversee nearly two decades of MTV Video Music and Movie Awards shows, recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 2002 that MTV staff were “surprised” Presley and Jackson went along with the producers’ idea of ​​them taking the lead. show

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“We came to them with all the imagination [including the kiss], but I’m sure Michael was criticized,” the producer said. “We brought them in through a private door and kept them in a private area. We had a very quiet time. They came down, did their thing, and when it was done they left.”

Newspapers around the world led their coverage of the awards show with the kiss, and critics had a field day with what they witnessed. In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jackson was “inhuman as ever in a black military jacket,” while Presley looked “relatively normal in a two-piece slinky dress.” The New York Daily News wrote that Presley “appeared to be very embarrassed”. And Britain’s Daily Telegraph claimed that Jackson forced Presley into a “grotesque public display.”

“Few happily married men feel the urge to kiss their partners in front of an audience, especially an audience of 250 million people,” Tony Parsons wrote in the paper. “But Michael Jackson is either very much in love or very desperate.”

Presley filed for divorce from Jackson in 1996, citing irreconcilable differences, but she later said that she and Jackson had considered reconciling for years after their marriage ended. In their last conversation in 2005, Jackson asked Presley if she still loved him. Presley, who admitted to Winfrey years later that she had denied having feelings for Jackson, told her ex-partner that she cared about him. The answer made him cry, she said.

“That’s part of the problem with my love life,” she once said of her marriages. “I’m looking for someone similar.” [my father]and none could ever compare.

But they always had that kiss in New York.


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