Anita Wood dated Elvis from 1957 to 1962. They broke up when she discovered he was also in a relationship with Priscilla Presley, who was still only 16 at that time. Anita talked about the shock and anger briefly on a TV interview but detailed it much more in an in-depth interview where she recounted Elvis’ fears she could destroy his reputation if she publicly revealed what she had discovered.
When Anita waved goodbye to Elvis as he set off to start his military service in Germany in October 1958, he promised to write and stay true to his starlet girlfriend he nicknamed ‘Little.’
While he was stationed with the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, he met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. They sent so much time together, photographs and rumours circulated in the US press and fan groups.
Elvis was discharged in March 1960 and returned to the US, resuming his relationship with Anita while carrying out a punishing recording schedule and making movies.
During one visit to Elvis on set in California shortly afterwards, Anita discovered a letter to Elvis from Priscilla, who wouldn’t turn 15 until May 1960.
She said: “It was pressed in a book in the library outside of his bedroom…
“When he came home from the set that day, that’s when I asked him about the letter.
“And in the letter, it said ‘Please call my dad. I want to come over there and if you call my dad, I know he will let me come, he will listen to you. I miss you’.
“So when he came in, I said’, What is this letter, who is this, this Priscilla, you said she was just a child?'”
“He got so mad because I found the letter. He took me and he shoved me up against the closet. He was so mad at me, just livid because I had found the letter.”
A devastated Anita immediately left and flew back to Memphis, to Elvis’s grandma at Graceland.
“He kept calling and I remember when he got me on the phone’, ‘Little, please don’t tell anybody about this. This girl, again, she’s just a child. She’s just a fourteen-year-old child it means absolutely nothing. She just wants to visit, it means nothing. And if you told anybody, I’d get in a lot of trouble, she’s so young’. He just begged me, ‘Little, Little, Little.'”
“So I said, ‘I won’t tell anybody’, and I never did, I never did tell anybody.”
The couple continued to date, with Anita giving up her budding Hollywood career for the relationship and staying at Graceland with Elvis’ father and grandma while he was away constantly for work.
But Anita found out Elvis was still in touch with Priscilla and torn between the two in early 1962, she overheard a conversation between Elvis and his father, Joe: “I heard Elvis say, ‘I’m having the hardest time making up my mind between the two…”
Anita realised Elvis had continued to see Priscilla: “I do know she had come over; she visited. He’d talked his way out of that one, ya know, with me. And I knew she was in his life, but I also knew she was young. Very young.”
Anita said she took the choice away from Elvis that day and told him she was leaving.
“That was probably the most difficult decision that I’ve ever made in my life. I have to say that. After having dated someone like Elvis for five years, and as close as we were for this to end…
“And when I left, I knew there would be no going back. I would never have come back, never.”