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Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. The King’s heart gave out in Graceland while he was aged just 42-years-old. Ann-Margret had not seen the star for years, but their relationship still lived on in secret. At the time, Ann-Margret had a residency show at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. And, to show her how he felt, Elvis sent her a floral arrangement in the shape of a guitar every day to wish her good luck for her shows. But one day, when one didn’t arrive, Ann-Margret knew something was wrong.
Early the next morning Ann-Margret received a phone call from Joe Esposito, Elvis’ road manager and close friend. He told Ann-Margret: “He’s dead.” He also told her Graceland was going to be a media circus in the days that followed, but she was of course invited to his funeral, which was due to take place in the coming days.
She simply replied: “I’m coming.”
Ann-Margret arrived at Graceland to the sound of crying fans outside the gates of the star’s famous estate.
The funeral procession was just hours away from beginning, an event that was open to all fans of Elvis. Thousands of people arrived and lined the streets to see the King one last time before he was buried for good. But Ann-Margret didn’t arrive to see Elvis’ fans, she came to pay her respects to the King.
And when she first arrived, she was greeted by his father, Vernon Presley.
Ann-Margret attended the funeral dutifully and paid her final respects to the star with strength. She didn’t make a scene and gave Elvis’ ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, and his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, the space they needed. She never forgot him though, and has since been singing his praises ever since his death. She often called him “incredibly kind” and “talented”.
This tender moment between Ann-Margret and Vernon was not the last memory they shared about Elvis.
In early 1979, just two years after Elvis died, Ann-Margret heard Vernon had fallen seriously ill. She flew to Memphis, Tennessee to visit him. She recalled: “We had a good visit, laughing and crying and trading stories.” Eventually, he told her how much he missed his son. Ann-Margret replied: “I miss him too.”
Vernon died later that year, on June 26, 1979.