In her September 2023 Vanity Fair cover story, the 34-year-old daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough reflected on her “very extreme” childhood.. “In hindsight, I can see how crazy these things would be to somebody from the outside. But when you’re living in them, it’s just your life and your family,” she explained.
Lisa Marie, who died in January, was married to Riley’s father from 1988 to 1994. Less than three weeks after her divorce from Danny, now 58, Lisa Marie exchanged vows with Michael Jackson. At the time, the marriage was seen as a publicity stunt — but Lisa Marie asserted in a statement that she was “very much in love” with Jackson.
The pair’s marriage lasted less than two years, but Riley has fond memories of Jackson. “I think he really got a kick out of being able to make people happy, in the most epic way possible, which I think he and my grandfather had in common,” she told Vanity Fair, referring to Elvis Presley.
Riley noted that she “spent more time” at Jackson’s Neverland estate than her family’s Graceland property. “That was a real home, whereas Graceland was a museum in my lifetime,” she said.
Lisa Marie and Jackson, who died in 2009, finalized their divorce in 1996. Following a brief engagement to musician John Oszajca, Lisa Marie married Nicolas Cage in August 2002. They called it quits that November.
“He’s a great actor,” Riley told Vanity Fair of Cage, 59, adding that she doesn’t keep in touch with her mom’s ex — but would consider working with him on a movie. “I’ve had some wild stepfathers. Famous and not famous.”
Another famous brood has long been hailed as a royal family in Hollywood — the Kardashian-Jenners — and Riley reminded fans of her surprising ties to the reality stars while recalling her life in Calabasas, California.
“I think when we lived there, it was just us and Melissa Etheridge — it was horse country,” she said of the city now known for housing Kim Kardashian and her siblings. “I’m an OG Calabasas girl.”
Riley then encouraged the outlet to “fact-check” her as she quipped, “My grandma dated [the Kardashians’] dad, I think?”
Priscilla Presley did, in fact, spark a brief romance with the late Robert Kardashian two years after splitting from Elvis in 1973. The lawyer went on to marry Kris Jenner in 1978 and welcomed Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Rob Kardashian (The pair split in 1991 before Robert’s death in 2003.)
While her childhood was unconventional, Riley remembers her late mother with pride. “I think it would take hours and hours to summarize her, but she was really one of a kind. … The life she had was not easy, and the treachery she endured and the lack of real love and real friends,” she said in the cover story, admiring Lisa Marie’s “thick skin.”
Riley added: “She was a very powerful presence and extremely loving and extremely loyal and sort of a lioness — a fierce woman, and a really wonderful mother. I think that would be my summary because I’m her daughter. She was the best mom.”