Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Show Appearances
Elvis Presley: First Appearance | The Ed Sullivan Show | September 9, 1956
Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Show Rehearsals | New York, October 1956
Elvis Presley gets his Polio Shot | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Show | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley: January 6, 1957 | Warwick Hotel, New York
With with Joanne Wilson, New York City's March of Dimes poster girl for 1956 (Same as above)
Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Show | January 6, 1957 | His third and final Appearance
Elvis, Monday evening, January 7, 1957 following his last appearance on the Ed Sullivan show
Two weeks after Elvis' first RCA recording session, he made his first television appearance on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey's weekly Stage Show. During the next eight weeks, he appeared on this variety series five more times, and each time the show received better ratings. The first show, however, was only moderately successful and was beaten in the ratings by The Perry Como Show. On Elvis' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, he was introduced by Cleveland disc jockey Bill Randle, who was supposedly the first radio personality to play an Elvis record outside the South. Randle, however, would be the only person featured on any of Elvis' Stage Show appearances who had any connection with the young singer.
Stage Show was typical of television variety programs in the mid-1950s. Understanding the nature of these variety shows helps us to understand why Elvis created such a stir. With an hour-long format, Stage Show featured performances by a diverse group of entertainers, ranging from popular singers to animal acts to ballet dancers. Each week a guest host introduced some of the acts for that particular program.
The other hosts and guest stars who appeared with Elvis included jazz singers Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, stand-up comedians Joe E. Lewis and Henny Youngman, a chimpanzee act, an acrobatic team, and an 11-year-old organist. Compared to these types of entertainers -- who were considered suitable for family audiences -- Elvis' new, high-powered music and dynamic performing style seemed alien. The young singer's Beale Street clothing and ducktail haircut made him stand out even more.
On his first appearance, Elvis was visibly nervous. He sang 'Shake, Rattle, and Roll' and 'Heartbreak Hotel', doing a little shaking and shimmying, and then quickly moved offstage. By his final appearance, more of an interaction between Elvis and his audience took place as the young man worked hard to drive the girls in the crowd into a screaming frenzy. When he strummed the opening chord of 'Heartbreak Hotel' on his guitar, a burst of screams and applause broke out. Elvis hesitated for a moment, tantalizing the audience with anticipation. As he broke into song, he moved across the stage, shaking his shoulders and swinging his legs.
Certain moves were obviously designed to elicit emotional responses from the girls, and Elvis' smiles proved he was delighted at this explosive effect on his female fans. The interaction between Elvis and his fans was much like a game: He teased the women with his provocative moves; they screamed for more; he promised to go further; sometimes he did. In late spring of 1956, Elvis appeared on The Milton Berle Show for the first time. The show was broadcast from the USS Hancock, which was docked at the San Diego Naval Station. Despite the novel location, this television appearance is barely mentioned in biographies or other accounts of Elvis' career, because his second appearance on the Berle program has completely overshadowed it.
This appearance on June 5 fanned the flames of the nationwide controversy over his hip-swiveling performing style. Elvis sang 'Hound Dog' for the first time on television that spring night. When he began the song, no one knew what to expect, because the tune was new. But the audience responded immediately with enthusiasm. Elvis then went a bit further in his performance: He slowed down the final chorus of the song to a blues tempo, and he thrust his pelvis to the beat of the music in a particularly suggestive manner. The studio audience went wild with excitement. The next day, the press nicknamed him 'Elvis the Pelvis'. Many described his act by comparing it to a striptease. Jack Gould of The New York Times declared', Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability', while John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune called Elvis 'unspeakably untalented and vulgar'. The criticism prompted parents, religious groups from the North and South, and the Parent-Teacher Association to condemn Elvis and rock 'n' roll music by associating both with juvenile delinquency.
Elvis could not understand what all the fuss was about: 'It's only music. In a lot of papers, they say that rock 'n' roll is a big influence on juvenile delinquency. I don't think that it is. I don't see how music has anything to do with it at all....I've been blamed for just about everything wrong in this country'.
After The Milton Berle Show, Colonel Parker booked Elvis on The Steve Allen Show, a new variety program that aired at the same time as Ed Sullivan's immensely popular show. Allen hated rock 'n' roll, but he was aware of the high ratings Berle's show received when Elvis appeared. He was also aware of the controversy.
To tone down Elvis' sexy performance, Allen insisted that he wear a tuxedo during his segment, and he introduced him as 'the new Elvis Presley'. Elvis sang one of his latest singles, a slow but hard-driving ballad called 'I Want You, I Need You, I Love You'. Immediately after that number, the curtain opened to reveal a cuddly basset hound sitting on top of a tall wooden stool. Elvis sang 'Hound Dog' to the docile creature, which upstaged the singer with his sad-eyed expressions. Allen used humor to cool down Elvis' sensual performing style, prohibiting him from moving around much on stage and even preventing him from wearing his trademark Beale Street clothes. The fans were furious, and they picketed NBC-TV studios the next morning with placards that read', We want the gyratin' Elvis'. Later in the program, Elvis joined Allen, Imogene Coca, and fellow Southerner Andy Griffith in a comedy sketch that satirized country-western programs, not unlike Louisiana Hayride. Many of the jokes were condescending toward Southern culture. Allen's presentation of Elvis singing to a dog plus the appearance of the 'hayseed' sketch actually ridiculed Elvis. Steve Allen was the real winner that night, because his show beat Sullivan in the ratings. Elvis had established himself as an entertainer who could attract a large television audience and boost ratings, so it's not surprising that after many rejections, the Colonel finally arranged for Elvis to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, a highly rated, prime-time variety program.
Sullivan, who was a powerful figure in the industry, had stated publicly that he would not allow Elvis to appear on his show because it was a family program. But ratings speak louder than scruples, and Sullivan backed down from this stance after The Steve Allen Show was so successful. Elvis was paid an unprecedented fee of $50,000 for three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. This was a lot more than the $5,000 per show Colonel Parker had asked for only a few weeks earlier when Sullivan turned him down.
Elvis' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show is cemented in the annals of rock music history because of the censors' decision to shoot the volatile young singer only from the waist up.
However, contrary to popular belief, this decision was not made until his third appearance.
Actor Charles Laughton served as substitute host the night of Elvis' first appearance because Sullivan was recuperating from an auto accident. In kinescopes and video footage of that performance, Elvis can be seen in full figure, crooning 'Love Me Tender' and 'Don't Be Cruel', then later belting out 'Hound Dog' and 'Ready Teddy'.
Elvis' third and final appearance on Sullivan's show on January 6, 1957, contains the legendary moments when the CBS censors would not allow his entire body to be shown. Seen only from the waist up, Elvis still put on an exciting show, singing seven songs in three segments. In one segment, Elvis and the Jordanaires sang 'Peace in the Valley', which Elvis dedicated to the earthquake victims of Eastern Europe.
But it was his rendition of such Presley hits as 'Heartbreak Hotel' and 'Hound Dog' that stirred up the studio audience. Their screams and applause clued the television viewers in to what Elvis was doing out of camera range, almost subverting the censors' intent. Once again, the interaction between Elvis and the studio audience added to the power of his performance. After Elvis' final number, Sullivan declared him to be 'a real decent, fine boy' -- a rather hypocritical statement considering what he and the censors had just done to Elvis' act. For years people have wondered why Elvis was censored during his third appearance on Sullivan's show. The simplest and most probable explanation is that Sullivan received negative criticism about Elvis' earlier appearances. Other, more outrageous explanations include the theory that the Colonel forced Sullivan to apologize publicly for remarks he'd made about Elvis to the press the previous summer, and the waist-up-only order was Sullivan's way of getting back at Parker. The wildest explanation was offered by a former director of The Ed Sullivan Show, who said that during his second appearance, Elvis put a cardboard tube down the front of his trousers and manipulated it to make the studio audience scream. To avoid a repeated occurrence of that behavior, Sullivan supposedly insisted on the above-the-waist coverage for Elvis' final appearance. None of these explanations offers any real insight into Sullivan's motivations but all add to the folklore surrounding this event, thereby enhancing Elvis' image as a notorious rock 'n' roller.
Elvis Presley RCA's McGavock St Studio | January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
1956 business contract signed by Colonel Parker and Elvis for The Elvis Presley Show
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | January 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | February 4, 1956
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black | February 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Backstage February 10, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show| February 11, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | February 18, 1956
Elvis Presley The Lousinana Hayride | March 10, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | March 17, 1956
Elvis Presley singing and playing gospel music | March 17, 1956
Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley on the Jimmy Dean WMAL-TV Show, March 23, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | March 24, 1956
Elvis Presley The Milton Berle Show | April 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Arena | San Diego | April 4, 1956
Elvis Presley Wichita Falls, Texas | April 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, TX | April 10, 1956
Elvis Presley RCA's McGavock St Studio | January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
Elvis Presley San Antonio | April 15, 1956
Elvis Gives Out With Crazy Cool Interview | April 17, 1956
Elvis thrilled Tulsa teens at fairgrounds April 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Oklahoma City | April 19, 1956
Elvis Presley April 20, 1956 | North Side Coliseum, Forth Worth
Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New Frontier | April 21, 1956
Elvis Presley at The New Frontier Hotel | From April 23, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas Sun | April 26, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas SUN | April 28, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas SUN | May 1, 1956
Letter to the editor | Las Vegas SUN | May 12, 1956
Elvis Presley Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota | May 13, 1956
Elvis Presley May 14, 1956 | LaCrosse Wisconsin
Elvis Presley May 15, 1956 | Ellis Auditorium
Elvis Presley Detroit, MI. Fox Theater May 25, 1956
Elvis Presley Columbus, Ohio | May 26, 1956
Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ performed two shows at the UD Fieldhouse in Dayton | May 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Dayton, Oh., as Elvis left for Memphis | May 28, 1956
Elvis greeting fans at Los Angeles Airport, 1956
Elvis Presley 1956 | March/ June/ July
Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley swap autographs, Memphis | June 1, 1956
Elvis Presley Arriving in Oakland | June 3, 1956
Elvis Presley In Concert | Oakland California | June 3, 1956
The Milton Berle Show Los Angeles | June 5, 1956
Elvis Presley June 7, 1956 | Long Beach Municipal Auditorium
Elvis Presley June 8, 1956
Elvis Presley | Wink Martindale Show | June 16, 1956
Elvis Presley Interview with Wink and Sandy Martindale
Elvis Presley and Red West at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 14, 1956
Vernon, Gladys and Elvis Presley sing at the piano | 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 17, 1956
Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn | June 19, 1956 | Fairgrounds Amusement Park, Memphis
Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 19, 1956
Elvis Presley with Susan Hayward | June 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Mosque Theater, Richmond, Va | June 30, 1956
Elvis Presley 1956 | March | June | July
Elvis Presley Hudson Theater | New York City | Steve Allen Show | July 1, 1956
Elvis Presley RCA Studio One, Memphis, Tennessee | July 2, 1956
Elvis Presley On The Train to, Memphis, Tennessee | July 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Russwood Park, Memphis, Tennessee | July 4, 1956
Elvis Presley St. Joseph's Hospital Memphis Tennessee | July 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Ocean Springs, MS. | Thursday, July 12, 1956
Elvis performs with The Statesman Quartet at Ellis Auditorium | July 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Water Skiing | Biloxi July 31, 1956
Elvis Presley Love Me Tender Movie Set Photos
Elvis Presley Olympia Theater, Miami, Florida | August 3, 1956
Elvis Presley August 5, 1956 | Tampa Florida
Elvis Presley Florida Theatre St. Petersburg | August 7, 1956
Elvis Presley Jacksonville, FL. Florida Theater (3 shows per day) | August 10-11, 1956
Elvis Presley August 7, 1956 | Candid Photos
Elvis Presley at the Knickerbocker Hotel, Hollywood | August 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Love Me Tender Recording Sessions | August 24, 1956
Elvis Presley August 31, 1956 | On the set of Love Me Tender
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show 1956-1957
Elvis Presley September 1-3, 1956 Recording Sessions
Elvis Presley First Appearance | The Ed Sullivan Show | September 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Asleep In Flight | Back To Memphis September 23, 1956
Elvis Presley September 26, 1956 | Tupelo, MS. Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds
Elvis Presley wearing the new 'Elvis Presley hat', backstage in Tupelo, September 26, 1956
Elvis Presley at the Mid-South Fair | Memphis September 29, 1956
Elvis Presley October 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Cotton Bowl, Dallas | October 11, 1956
Elvis Presley October 18, 1956
Elvis Presley October 19, 1956 | Assault Charge
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show Rehearsals | October 26-28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | Dress Rehearsals | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | Press Conference | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley gets his Polio Shot | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | October 28, 1956
Natalie Wood and Elvis Presley outside the Hotel Chisca | October 31, 1956
What is an Elvis Presley?
The Million Dollar Quartet (December 4, 1956)
Elvis Presley December 11, 1956 | Mobbed by fans in Memphis after running out of gas
Elvis Presley's Last Louisiana Hayride Performance | December 15, 1956
Elvis Presley Touch Football | Dave Wells Community Center | December 27, 1956
The Movies Of 1956
1956, Love Me Tender, Twentieth Century Fox
The Movies In Photos
CDs | DVDs | Books
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.