Over the New Year of 1977, Elvis was apparently happy and determined to get healthy. He told his father Vernon all about his plans to propose to Ginger, which he did later that January. He also spoke of starting a family with her and having a son. Ginger and Lisa Marie Presley attended the New Year’s concert The King gave at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. He was in fine spirits, looking to the future, and in March he wrote his final will and testament, outlining exactly who would get when he died. Of course, nobody imagined that day was only five months away.
Elvis wrote his final will on March 3, 1977. It was signed by Ginger who gave her address as 4152 Royal Crest Place. Even though they had got engaged on January 26, she refused to move in with The King.
The will was also signed by the star’s long-term friend since his army days, Charlie Hodge and Anne Dewy Smith, the wife of Elvis’ attorney Beecher Smith.
After the star’s shock sudden death on August 16, 1977, the will was admitted to probate on August 22 and by the following day, newspapers around the world had started to report how the estate of one of the biggest stars in the world over the past three decades would be distributed.
Elvis and Priscilla wedding day (Image: GETTY)
Elvis and Ginger Alden (Image: GETTY )
Ever since they had met on November 19, 1976, Ginger had become the primary girlfriend in Elvis’ life. It was widely known that the star was rarely faithful for long and many of the Memphis Mafia openly doubted that she would last, but Vernon himself later testified to his son’s sincere happiness with her and his desire to marry and have more children.
Vernon said: “I never got to know Ginger Alden well. She’s not much of a talker, but a while back Elvis told me he’d fallen in love with her. ‘This is the love I’ve been searching for,’ he said. ‘I want more children, a son. And I want Ginger to be my children’s mother.’ After that, Ginger and Elvis came over to show me her engagement ring. That was one of the few times I’d ever seen her smiling.”
Elvis had officially divorced Priscilla back in October 1973, although they had separated in the February of the previous year. She was also the mother of his nine-year-old daughter and only child, Lisa Marie.
His wife, of course, had seen numerous girlfriends and lovers come and go. Ginger insists that they spoke of their wedding plans on the night he died, but even Vernon later said that he thought his son had started to get cold feet.
Vernon said: ‘I assumed they were going to get married, but nothing happened and whenever I tried to talk to Elvis about Ginger, he’d seem upset. Finally, just a day or so before he died, I told him, ‘I keep hearing and reading that you’re going to announce your engagement. Is that right? When are you going to get married?'”
Elvis’ reply was not promising: “Only God knows.”
Elvis with Priscilla and baby Lisa Marie (Image: GETTY )
Ginger was there the night Elvis died and the subsequent days of the funeral, but she had never lived at Graceland and the will soon made it clear where she stood.
Only three people were named in Elvis’ will: his daughter, his father and his grandmother, Minnie Mae. The entire estate was split evenly between the three of them, with Vernon as executor. Within two years, only Lisa Marie would still be alive, and she became the sole heir to Graceland and Elvis’ legacy.
Vernon later spoke bluntly about why neither Priscilla nor Ginger had received anything – but for very different reasons.
Elvis Presley life and death important dates (Image: GETTY)
Vernon criticised commentators who said the will was evidence of his son’s lack of real feelings for them: “In answer to that, I want to point out that Ginger had already gotten her share of gifts from Elvis. As for Priscilla, she didn’t expect to be mentioned, because Elvis had made his settlement with her when they were divorced.”
In fact, since Lisa Marie became sole heir at 11, Priscilla took control of her daughter’s interests, with the will making it clear any child of Elvis would not fully inherit until they were 25.
She proved to be a shrewd businesswoman and turned a declining estate from $1million to an estimated $100 million by the time Lisa Marie came of age to inherit.