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

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

They were Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop’ who was fighting a slew of child sex abuse allegations, and Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of ‘King of Rock-and-Roll’ Elvis Presley. and a singer trying to get out of her. the great shadow of his father to leave his mark in the music industry. Expectations were 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 at Presley, who was smiling but also seemed nervous. “And just think no one thought it would last.”

Afterward, Jackson took off his sunglasses, leaned over, and kissed Presley. The four-second kiss generated some of the loudest cheers of the night from the crowd and topped media headlines around the world – with some believing they saw the couple consummate the wedding on national television.

They were the biggest element of show business. And Presley hated it.

“He knew I didn’t like it,” she told Oprah Winfrey of the infamous kiss in a 2010 interview following Jackson’s 2009 death. “I would be there, uncomfortably. And his hand was blue after we got off that stage….I had hugged him so tight….But as his wife, I needed to do things like that.

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

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

Decades before their marriage, Presley and Jackson met in Las Vegas in 1974 at one of the Jackson family 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 big fan of the Jacksons, especially Michael, who was 16 at the time.

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

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

That changed once Jackson listened to her tapes and told Presley she had “real talent” – a compliment that floored the young artist. Strong recalled in the 2009 book that when the two men were leaving the party, Jackson gave Presley a penetrating look and said, “You and I could be in a lot of trouble. Think about it, my daughter.

From there, the two talked so much on the phone that Presley felt like he saw a totally different side of Jackson. When rumors escalated that they were together, they met at Trump Tower in New York City through Jackson’s friend Donald Trump, who later boasted, “I’ve known this secret for a long time. Less than a month after divorcing Keough in 1994, Jackson proposed over the phone. Presley and Jackson tied the knot 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 settlement that 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 Taraborrelli’s book. Part of that meant letting the world know that her marriage to Jackson was not a publicity stunt.

“My married 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 and support him. We are both looking forward to starting a family.

As the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards were about to begin, the Radio City Music Hall announcer turned the awards ceremony into a wedding reception, introducing 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, reminded Entertainment Weekly in 2002 that MTV staff were “surprised” that Presley and Jackson took on the producers’ idea. to direct the Display.

“We had come to them with the whole concept [including the kiss], but I’m sure Michael improvised,” the producer said. “We brought them into a private gate and held them in a private area. We kept it very quiet. They went down, did their thing, and when it was over, 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 looked “inhuman as always in a black military jacket”, while Presley appeared “relatively normal in a tight two-piece dress”. The New York Daily News wrote that Presley “appeared deeply embarrassed”. And Britain’s Daily Telegraph claimed that Jackson forced Presley into “a grotesque display of public affection”.

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

Presley filed for divorce from Jackson in 1996, citing irreconcilable differences, but she later said she and Jackson considered reconciling for years after their marriage ended. In what would be their last conversation in 2005, Jackson asked Presley if she still loved him. Presley, who admitted to Winfrey years later that she had closed herself off to emotion towards Jackson, told his estranged wife that she felt indifferent about him. The answer made her cry, she said.

“That’s part of the problem with my love life,” she once said of her marriages. “I’m looking for someone who looks like [my father]and no one could ever compare.

But they still had that kiss in New York.

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