Top Ten Things Not to Do at Elvis’ Appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956

Happy Labor day to everyone and especially to those who work to keep our lives normal. To those out of work, a wish for this COVID mess to end.

James’ 1956 Oldsmobile from Eternal Road – The final stop

This week marks the 64th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956. You know we all want to be there, so I would suggest we take James’ (from Eternal Road – The final stop) 1956 Oldsmobile and attend the performance. So that we won’t cause a tear in the time continuum, we need to take the list of things not to do. Trust me, it will keep us all out of trouble. So crank up the Olds, and let’s go.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at Elvis’ First Appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.

10 If you go, do not ask the producer how pleased Ed is to have Elvis on his show. If you do, at best, he will be distracted. At worse, he will spare no words in describing Ed’s displeasure. (Here’s the thing, Maksimillian. Ed tried to keep Elvis off his show, but others were getting such good ratings that he had to relent. He is not a happy camper, and here come some massive men. I think they want to show you out.)

9 If you go, do not tell Tiny, the WWF champ, that you think Elvis is king. If you do, at best, Tiny will be doing curls using the associate producer as a weight. At worse, Tiny, who has skipped the court-mandated group sessions for self-esteem and anger management, will think you are trying to make him feel bad. (Don’t worry, Maleko that so-called “Deadman’s Drop,” is just a label that Tiny gave to that hold. Hey Maleko, can you hear me?)

8 If you go, do not ask Ed’s accountant what he paid to have Elvis appear on his show. If you do, at best, the accountant is late for his therapy session and won’t have time to talk. At worst, the full impact of the amount will finally set in, and the accountant will need to sit down. (Now you’ve done it, Malone. The accountant has been trying to disassociate himself from the responsibility of paying $50,000 for three appearances. That’s  $476,289.00 in today’s dollars. I think he is now catatonic.)

7 If you go, do not tell the producer anything about the expected ratings. If you do, at best he won’t believe you. At worst, the magnitude of the number of viewers will cause the producer to pass out. (The number of viewers for the first show was about 60 million, Malvin. That was 82.6 % of all people capable of watching the broadcast. The ratings were the best in two years, and the show was one of the highest watched of the 1950s)

6 If you go, don’t question the fact that we are going to Los Angles instead of the Ed Sullivan theater in New York. If you do, at best, someone will tell you to be patient. At worst, you’ll be kicked out of the Olds before we start. (The situation is this, Manasseh. Elvis is filming “Love Me Tender” in LA. So his portion of the show will originate from the CBS studio in Los Angles. You still want to go see the show in New York? All you’ll get is a tap dance duo and a couple of tumblers)

5 If you go, do not keep asking the whereabouts of Ed Sullivan. If you do, at best, everyone will ignore you. At worst, someone will finally tell you to mind your own business. (Ed Sullivan was in a horrific car accident and is at home recovering, Mandeville. Charles Laughton is filling in for him tonight. If you don’t know who that is, Google it when you get back to 2020.)

4 If you go, do not ask the producer if Elvis is going to sing, “All Shook Up.” If you do, at best, he won’t know what you are talking about. At worst, he will wonder where you came up with that title. (All Shook up wasn’t released until 1957 a year later, Manfrit. On the first show, Elvis sang “Don’t Be Cruel,” Little Richard’s “Reddy Teddy,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender.” I think you ought to go wait in the car.)

3 If you go, do not try to convince everyone that the song “Love Me Tender” is going to be a bust because it is a ballad. If you do, at best everyone will be interested in the show and will ignore you. At worst, everyone will listen to you and place bets you are wrong. (Sad to say, Manneville. You owe a lot of money. Love me Tender sold one million records after Elvis sang it on the show. This was before it was released. You just had to take those bets, didn’t you?)

2 If you go, do not ask the producer if he can keep the audience quiet. If you do, at best, the producer won’t hear you for the screaming fans. At worst, the producer will give you some sage advice. (The suggestion is right up there with “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I see he is offering to let you out of the back door. Next time, Manning just go with. the hysteria.)

1 If you go, do not try to tell the reviewer from Time magazine that Elvis is a great performer. If you do, at best, the reviewer will walk away. At worst, the reviewer will think you are working for Elvis and will call security. ( Before the security guys get here, Mano you need to know this particular reviewer wrote, “When it was over, parents and critics, as usual, did a lot of futile grumbling at the vulgarity of this strange phenomenon that must somehow be reckoned with.”  So it was not all bad. Look, the guards are here. Go along quietly.)

70 comments

  1. Loved this one. 👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Charles.

      Like

  2. And if you go, don’t reveal the future and tell him in eight years The Beatles will take over the world. 🙂 Funny that Ed didn’t want Elvis, but he was the one responsible for bringing the Beatles to the US.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think he learned his lesson. He could have had Elvis for $5,000 for three appearences. He then pissed off Col. Tom Parker so the price went up tenfold when Ed decided he needed to have him on the show.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent! Thanks for sharing, John.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jill.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous · ·

    I’m not sure what it means when we’re time-traveling to points on the continuum when I was alive. Don’t use the ‘O’ word John, unless you want me to cash in the favor Tiny owes me. I stopped at In-N-Out Burger and bought 3 Double-Doubles to bribe my way in.

    I don’t remember the show, but I’m sure my mom was watching.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. I was watching too.

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  5. Gwen M. Plano · ·

    My goodness, this takes me back years. I remember watching Elvis on Ed Sullivan. It could have been 1956. I know my dad was not pleased. I don’t remember much but I do recall his movements and the yells from the crowd. It was a momentous performance, whatever the year. Thank you for the memories, John. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Most of the performances were in 1956. He appeared three times and the last was on January 6th 1957. The first two times he sang four songs. the last he sang seven. So 56 or 57 it was all within 6 months. You were a kid of 7.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love it!! I particularly like the reviewer’s line: “the vulgarity of this strange phenomenon that must somehow be reckoned with.” It could apply to so many things. I think I shall adopt it as a catch phrase.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true now, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly is, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I do remember this event but I forgot the Ed didn´t actually host the show that night. I remember the moms shaking their heads and wondering what the world was coming to. If I recall, they could only show the top half of him. This was a great post and the perfect car to take us back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Darlene. The first show there was full body views. Only after his moved it was decided to come in close.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hubby is a huge Elvis fan – me, not so much, but I did go with him to Graceland. Some amazing TV ratings for that time period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yhey were indeed. Thanks, Teri.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This worries me. I WAS there when Elvis showed up on Sullivan. Now I’m going to have to figure out the deep meaning of that. I suspect it has something to do with the double meaning of that car name: Olds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. I was there too and fifteen years old. I get the Olds meaning. Thanks, Linda.

      Like

  10. That show just might have been past my bed time. Something about being 4.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. You go to bed young man.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is the best one of these, EVER, John. I was also one of the 60 million viewers watching the show (I was 12) and squealing like a fangirl. Oh, wait. I was a fangirl, even though I don’t think the word had been coined at that time. And guess what else? My MOTHER was squealing right alongside me, and remained a devoted Elvis fan (fanmom?) her entire life.

    I think one of the most ironic things is how “sedate” those wiggling hips of his turned out to be in comparison to some of the truly blatant stuff later groups got away with. Sexy as heck, for sure, but nowhere near as vulgar as that which would come along after Elvis paved the way.

    I was lucky enough to see Early Elvis in person on stage in Jacksonville, too–salmon sport coat, charcoal slacks, string (bolo?) tie, wiggling hips, and all. That was in 1956, as well. Happy sigh.

    Thanks for the memories! I’ll be smiling all day 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw him live in one of his last concerts. A very different Elvis. Thanks for the personal perspective, Marcia. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We should pick up the property Graceland will eventually be built upon. Might make a tidy sum.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Problem is the mansion was built in 1939 so we would have to get there earlier. Elvis bought it in 1957 for $100,000 ($922,000 today)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You can’t scratch a trailer on a lot here for that now. Amazing how things change.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. What an entertaining post, John! (Oh, dear, did I just make a pun??). I loved the Ed Sullivan Show when I was a kid, although Elvis’s appearances were too early for me. Happy Labor Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thak you, Marie. happy Labor Day to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You got it, John. And I saw that show!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. OMG. That was a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I was 2, so I didn’t get to tune in, but I remember those shoulders of Ed’s that looked as if they were concealing state secrets. I know the story when they made him sing, Elvis, not Ed, You Ain’t Nothin but a Hound Dog to a Basset Hound, that apparently humiliated the King.

    Bassets are my favorite breed next to Pits so, I would have loved to have been crooning to one. Maybe Elvis would have done better with a Shepherd or Collie.

    I never did get the Elvis bug ever, even when I was old enough to have a rock crush. Had two cousins though that would weep whenever he came on the screen.

    I did read that Ed was a real party-pooper, and even Topo Gigio didn’t like him, and he was a hand puppet. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it John.

    YOU AIN’T NOTHING BUT A HOUND DOG…CRYIN ALL THE TIME…WOOF

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did see the show and the basset was cute. Elvis did interact with it and even held its muzzle. The basset didn’t seem to care. Being 15 at the time, I was really enamered with all the stars. Elvis was a favorite and I attended one of his last concerts.

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      1. How lucky to have seen him. Now I wish I had.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He was a great performer.

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      3. I know. Those hips.

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      4. So they say. 😊

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      5. Nobody swiveled like the King.

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      6. I agree. He could certainly move

        Liked by 1 person

      7. They didn’t censor him from the waist down for nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. They were taken by surprise though. The first song was a full body shot. Then someone said “We better get in tighter.” The third show was 100% waiste up. Looking at it today it seems pretty silly. 😊.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. So did ED, in his permanent shrug. sigh

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Ed missed the first show. He was laid up after a car accident. Of course, he was not a happy camper having to spend $50,000 when he could have spent $5,000. Come to think about it he ws not a happy camper period.

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      11. He started as a columnist I believe. Ed…my parents never missed a show, and his theater is still in full swing with Stephen Colbert he’d probably hate.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I’m sure he would hate Colbert. Yes, he was an entertainment columnist. His column, “Little Old New York”, concentrated on Broadway shows and gossip.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I love that you know all this. It brings to mind Walter Winchell who could make or break a girl at his regular table at the Stork Club, an old time obsession of mine. Now it’s a little space called Paley Park where you can drink coffee under fake trees and iron chairs so uncomfortable, to make sure you don’t stay too long. Wonder when the Stork opened. Thinking of your Monday post I love, as you know. Good morning John 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Good morning, Susannah. It opend in 1929. Here is more information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stork_Club 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  16. From the bus to the olds…John, you have become the time transport king! 🙂 I would love to have been at that live show! Wow! That would have been super, but I’m a huge Elvis fan! Good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would have been fun. I did watch it on TV and enjoyed it.

      Like

  17. D.L. Finn, Author · ·

    Loved this John:) I wouldn’t mind taking a trip with James to see this….later… much later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. Yes very much later, Denise. 😁

      Like

  18. Loved this, John! I wasn’t born yet for the show (smile), but read enough about it since I’m a huge Elvis fan. My older sister loved him, so that’s where the influence originated from. She, her husband, my parents, and I saw him in Long Beach about two years before he died. He had gained weight, but his voice was the same, smooth and rich as butter. He, just like many wonderful musicians, died too young.
    It’s funny though how Ed thought his moves were so vulgar, but look at the moves that followed his, and look at groups of today’s scene. I agree with Marcia that his hip wiggling was “sedate” in comparison. Totally sexy though, and someday, I’ll make it to Graceland once Covid goes away. Thanks, this was fun, and evoked great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I attended one of his last concerts. He was still great but obviousl not well.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. He WAS a great performer. Saw him with my grandma, mom, and aunt. He was phenomenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Just goes to show how impossible certain numbers would be to achieve today. Like, eighty two percent of all possible viewers tuned in? Hell, today at least thirty percent of the population would have been on Tic Toc . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? You would have to appeal to all screens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m guessing so

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Good stuff. I didn’t know about Ed’s reticence about hiring Elvis in the first place. But after meeting the boy, Ed became a fan. After one appearance, Ed went out of his way to praise Elvis for being so polite and an all around good guy. And then when Elvis was in the army, Ed, from the stage, and to his television audience, told the nation what fine reports he was getting about Elvis from the brass in the army.

    P.S. As a lover of history, I’m enjoying your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m gald you are liking the book, Andrew. Thanks for adding to the story of Elvis.

      Like

  22. I loved this, John! I didn’t know Ed was in a car crash, and also how much $$$ they paid Elvis. Tiny was at his best. And, please, please write a Top Ten on the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan. I was glued.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Jennie. I’ll keep an eye out for the anniversary date.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you!! I believe it was in February.

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      2. This will be a memory test.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Those numbers are insane…. 82% of the population tuned into one thing? Nuts. He wasn’t the King for nuthin’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? It was a landslide of viewers

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cray-Cray!

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