Media-free nuptials not so easy today

Priscilla Presley had to laugh at how difficult it would be today, pulling off an under-the-radar Wedding of the Ages.

Back on May 1, 1967, when she and Elvis eloped to Las Vegas, their biggest concern was TV gossip hound Rhona Barrett, who was hot on their heels.

Today? An army of celebrity snoops and photo snappers from A to TMZ would be swarming the Aladdin when they arrived.

Still, “it was quite a feat,” said Presley, who will be forever linked to Las Vegas, where she returns Jan. 29 as Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year at the Black and White Ball.

In an interview Wednesday, she provided a rare walk-through of the most famous wedding in Las Vegas history.

Months earlier, Priscilla, then 21, had donned a disguise to check out wedding dresses with her faux “fiancé,” Charlie Hodges, one of Elvis’ pals.

The day before the wedding they flew here from Palm Springs, Calif., where Frank Sinatra provided his private plane to take them to Las Vegas to help them avoid the media.

With media camped in front of their Palm Springs residence because of wedding rumblings, Elvis and Priscilla sneaked out a back door and flew to Las Vegas about 2 a.m. to get a marriage license before dawn. Other than the clerk and another couple, the office was deserted.

Today their secret would have hit the Twitterverse and been halfway around the world before the sun came up.

With their $15 marriage license, they headed to the Aladdin, where arrangements had been made to have Nevada Supreme Court Justice David Zenoff marry them.

To keep it under wraps, part of the Aladdin was shut down. The ceremony was in the living quarters of Aladdin President Milton Prell. They got married about 11:30 a.m., she recalled, and couldn’t believe they had outfoxed the media.

They hadn’t completely: The story was already out, several hours earlier. Getting the scoop was Las Vegas-based United Press International reporter Myram Borders, who got a
1 a.m. tip that Elvis was getting married at the Aladdin.

Borders, a former rival and now a friend, helped me put together questions for Priscilla on Wednesday. She got the exclusive by waiting around the Aladdin all night until she hit the jackpot. She saw Zenoff about 8 a.m. He confirmed he was there for the wedding.

Elvis and Priscilla flew back to Palm Springs that afternoon to celebrate with family and friends.

What few people know, Priscilla said as we wrapped up the telephone interview, was that the wedding was called off in November because the date leaked.

Her wedding dress is at Graceland.

“Vernon (Presley, Elvis’ father) kept everything. Not that he was a hoarder,” she said.

Why Vegas?

“Because we knew everything happens fast in Las Vegas,” she said.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Vince Neil’s girlfriend, Alicia Jacobs of KSNV-TV, Channel 3, issued a statement Tuesday after Neil agreed to a plea deal for driving drunk in June.

“(Neil) clearly acknowledges that he was in the wrong,” wrote Jacobs, who was not dating Neil at the time of his arrest. Jacobs said she is confident Neil will be safe.

“However, I can’t help but be worried,” she wrote. She said Neil will continue to devote time and money to the NSPCA, Lili Claire’s vocational center, Autism Speaks and the Skylar Neil Foundation.

“I’m proud of him for taking responsibility for his actions,” Jacobs wrote.

SIGHTINGS

MGM Resorts chief executive officer and chairman Jim Murren and wife Heather, at Wednesday’s state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House. Hosted by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, the guest list of 200-plus people included Barbra Streisand and actor Jackie Chan. …

Palms owner George Maloof, checking out La Cave (Wynn) Sunday morning. “I was just taking a peek,” said Maloof, who recently won a legal battle to take over N9NE Group venues at the Palms previously operated by former partner Michael Morton. “I was there three minutes, by myself. I asked the hostess for permission, and before I left, I asked for Michael.”

THE PUNCH LINE

“Starbucks is selling a 31-ounce cup of coffee. It’s taller than Mayor Bloomberg.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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