Party Girl

Confronting advanced breast cancer without a dime to her name, Texas legend Priscilla Davis insists the good times aren't over yet

Priscilla and Greg looked at each other. Did he remember the Cullen Davis murders back in the '70s? he was asked. Of course, he replied. There was another pause, as the connection once again was not made. That's Priscilla Davis, Greg said, pointing to his partner. They said the doctor's eyes almost fell out of his head. Later on in the interview, he just had to ask: How did someone of her wealth wind up sitting in Parkland right now?

"Priscilla said, 'Stuff happens,'" Greg recalls. "And the doctor said, 'I guess stuff does happen.' But I know her. What she really wanted to say was, 'Shit happens.'"

A large mural hangs in the living room of Priscilla Davis' Oak Lawn apartment. It's frayed around the edges and faded from the sun, because it once was displayed in a window without curtains. The '83 photo was taken to be showcased in some chi-chi restaurant whose name Priscilla has forgotten. It features prominent Dallasites like Julia Sweeney and Kendall Bailey against a stark white background, champagne glasses held aloft in celebration. Priscilla is right there clutching her own champagne flute, head turned to toss a look over her shoulder, mouth open in that movie-star smile. I notice, though, that one of the revelers in the picture has blue marker scribbled all over her face.
In the mid-'70s, Priscilla Davis was the quintessential flashy Texas blonde.
In the mid-'70s, Priscilla Davis was the quintessential flashy Texas blonde.
Cullen and Priscilla Davis in the '70s
Courtesy of Priscilla Davis
Cullen and Priscilla Davis in the '70s

"I had a couple of cocktails one night and did that," Priscilla says sheepishly. "That woman told Greg, 'Priscilla will never have any peace until she forgives Cullen.'"

A friend she speaks to only occasionally heard that she'd contracted breast cancer, and asked if there was going to be an estate sale. Priscilla smiles a little bitterly as she relates this.

"I was, like, well, there's not really much left to sell," she says, her arm gesturing around the tiny apartment. "He's always wanted that mural. But I'm like, gaw, the funeral hasn't happened yet."

You can see why someone who knows Priscilla would prize this 17 year-old image of her. It is eerily emblematic of her life, her charm, her strengths, and her weaknesses. There she is on the wall, life-sized, cocktail in hand, laughing and refusing to look squarely at what's ahead.

On the subject of drinking, Dee Davis says she used to pester her mother about her consumption. Dee is, after all, a drug and alcohol counselor, and moreover, a sober alcoholic, and therefore spends a lot of time silently assessing the habits of those around her. She eventually came to the conclusion that it was really none of her business, and that Priscilla would do what she wanted to, anyway. Dee gave her mother a martini glass for her most recent birthday.

Priscilla, on the other hand, insists that she may not slurp as much alcohol as people think. In the country clubs of Dallas and Fort Worth, everyone knew what "Priscilla's drink" was--vodka with a splash of water. But she was famous for leaving her cocktails unfinished. If the ice melted too quickly, she'd send it back and order another one. She still does. The philosophy behind this is simple: "They'll always make more."

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help