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Ramblings of a Lifelong Elvis Fan – Part 39 – Elvis’ TV Appearances – The Early Years

In the early days, Elvis made quite a few television appearances on various shows. His first was on the The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show in January of 1956 in New York. The first show didn’t have a large turnout. It was raining, and Elvis, at that time, was not all that well known. He appeared on the Dorsey Brothers show a total of five times.

On April 3, exactly 58 years ago today, Elvis made his first appearance on the Milton Berle show in San Diego, from the deck of the USS Hancock aircraft carrier. He also performed concerts the following two nights. The San Diego Chief of Police announced that if Elvis ever returned to his city and performed in that manner, he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. LOL. I bet the chief later came to regret his words.

The second time Elvis appeared on the Milton Berle show a few months later, he stirred up a ton of controversy. He received the famous nickname, Elvis the Pelvis, from the press, and his act was called a ‘striptease.’ Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote, ‘Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability’. John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune called Elvis ‘unspeakably untalented and vulgar’.

Ha! Little did they know…

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On July 1, 1956 (my birthday, although I wasn’t born yet…that would happen 5 years later), Elvis appeared on The Steve Allen Show. In order to avoid controversy, Steve had Elvis wear a tux and sing Hound Dog to a basset hound. Fans were incensed, claiming Steve did it to embarrass Elvis and to insult rock and roll. After the show, Elvis was interviewed on Hy Gardner’s live TV interview show. Elvis said: ‘I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong.  I don’t see how any type of music would have any bad influence on people. How would rock ‘n’ roll music make anyone rebel against their parents?’

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Ed Sullivan claimed he would never want Elvis on his show, but he changed his mind after learning that the night Elvis appeared on The Steve Allen Show, which was opposite his in the same time slot, Allen’s show brought in twice as many viewers. Elvis would appear on Sullivan’s show three times, September 9, 1956, October 28, 1956, and January 6, 1957.  His first show brought in 60 million viewers and gained the respect of many of his former critics.

Elvis, with the Jordanaires, sang ‘Peace in the Valley.’ I heard Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires being interviewed on Elvis radio recently. He said that Elvis had promised his mother he would sing Peace in the Valley on the show. Sullivan’s producer wouldn’t allow it, he told Elvis there had never been a religious song sang on the show, and there never would be. Elvis went to Ed and told him he’d promised his mother he would sing the song, but that ‘fella’ said he couldn’t. Ed told his producer to ‘let the boy sing whatever he wants.’ 🙂

On Elvis’ final appearance, the censors would only allow him to be seen from the waist up. At the end of the show, Ed Sullivan said, ‘This is a read decent, fine boy. We’ve never had a pleasanter experience with a big name’. 

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One of my favorites of Elvis’ early TV appearances was his spot on the Frank Sinatra Special after he returned from the Army.

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Here is an adorable clip of Elvis and Frank singing a duet. The clip also includes some commentary from Nancy Sinatra: PLEASE, do yourself a favor and watch this.

 

Sigh…can you imagine being a teen in the 50’s and never having seen rock and roll of any kind, and then, being exposed to Elvis??? Wow…

Although, some of you WERE teens in the 50’s. I’d love to hear from you about what it was like. What did you think of Elvis? What did your parents think? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share? 

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EOLS Charity

Elvis was known for his giving heart and charitable work during his lifetime. Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley Enterprises have continued that tradition with their involvement in various charities. In 1984, The Elvis Charitable Foundation was formed. The EPCF created a scholarship fund for students majoring in the arts. The charity also contributes to one of Elvis’ favorite charities, Goodwill Homes, a Memphis facility that provides counseling and services for abused children and their families. The EPCF also assists numerous other charities, especially focusing on arts, education and children’s programs.

Learn more here, including how to donate:

http://www.graceland.com/epcf/

On Elvis’ birthday this year, I released a Vintage Romance short story set in 1957, and of course, my heroine is an Elvis fan. 🙂 As a tribute to Elvis’ generosity, and in order to assist with this worthy cause, 10% of my proceeds for End of Lonely Street will go to the EPCF.

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All Toby Lawson wants is to go to college to become a teacher and to be free of her alcoholic mother and some painful memories. But when her mother nearly burns the house down, Toby must put her dreams on hold and return home to care for her. The only time she isn’t lonely and miserable is when she’s listening to her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. His music takes her away and helps her escape from everything wrong in her life.

Noah Rivers has always loved Toby, but no matter what he says, she can‘t get past the fact that her drunken mother once kissed him. He soon realizes the true problem lies in Toby’s belief she’s not good enough for him and in her fear she will be just like her mother.

What will it take to prove to her that she deserves to be happy, and that he would give anything to be the man to make her dreams come true?

***ONLY $1.99***

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan, Part 2 – The Movies

 

While Elvis’s movies are often regarded as silly and pointless, many people, including myself, find them highly enjoyable. Admittedly, they are not classic, Oscar-worthy films, and Elvis himself wasn’t pleased with the roles he played. He wanted to be a serious actor and admired other actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando. The only movie he was really proud of was King Creole, which was a wonderful film where Elvis was allowed to excercise his acting chops, and he did a fantastic job. After he returned from the army, his movies became no more than a vehicle for his singing. However, I thought they were fun and entertaining. I admit, I’m slightly biased, but even many non-Elvis fans enjoyed his movies. Some of my favorites….

Jailhouse Rock – I recently re-watched this and fell in love with it all over again. Another serious role where Elvis put on a great performance. And, there were some awesome songs in this movie, such as Don’t Leave Me Now, Treat Me Nice, Young and Beautiful, and of course, Jailhouse Rock. Sadly, Judy Tyler, who co-starred with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, was driving home from Los Angeles to Manhattan with her husband, when they were in an auto accident, and she was killed instantly, at twenty-four years old, before the movie was released. Her husband died in the hospital the following day. People close to Elvis said he took her death hard, and was never able to watch the movie.

This is my favorite scene in any Elvis movie, ever. (Ignore the foreign subtitles and enjoy…)


Fast forward to his final movie in 1969, Change of Habit, where he played Dr. John Carpenter and Mary Tyler-Moore co-starred with him. Yep, still sexy…


Another movie I loved was Live a Little, Love a Little, for many reasons, but a big one is that he said my name in the movie…and hearing Elvis say my name was a thrill! 🙂 A few of my other favorites were Tickle Me and Girl Happy. But, I could go on and on, of course. Because, well, I’m a huge Elvis fan, if you haven’t already guessed. Not only was it fun to watch Elvis in the roles, what made his movies even better was that he starred with a lot of well-known actors, such as Charles Bronson, Nancy Sinatra, Ann-Margaret, Richard Egan, Angela Lansbury, and Bill Bixby.

I remember when we were young, my sisters and I going to the movies at the Chieftan in Oklahoma City and watching Elvis on the big screen. Heavenly!

Listening to Elvis radio now, I hear a lot of interviews with his co-stars and all of them have great things to say about him, about what a nice guy he was, how easy he was to work with, how he didn’t act like a star, and the women say he was a great kisser. I can only imagine. 🙂

As I stated previously, I mention Elvis in almost all of the books I write. So, of course I’m going to mention him a lot in a story set in 1957. Below is a snippet from my upcoming short story, End of Lonely Street, releasing with The Wild Rose Press on January 7, 2015.

 

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Blurb:

All Toby Lawson wants is to go to college to become a teacher and to be free of her alcoholic mother and some painful memories. But when her mother nearly burns the house down, Toby must put her dreams on hold and return home to care for her. The only time she isn’t lonely and miserable is when she’s listening to her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. His music takes her away and helps her escape from everything wrong in her life.

Noah Rivers has always loved Toby, but no matter what he says, she can‘t get past the fact that her drunken mother once kissed him. He soon realizes the true problem lies in Toby’s belief she’s not good enough for him and in her fear she will be just like her mother.

What will it take to prove to her that she deserves to be happy, and that he would give anything to be the man to make her dreams come true?

Excerpt:

Noah glanced around the diner. Toby followed his gaze. The counter was lined with customers. A jukebox sat in the corner. Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” now belted from its speakers. “What happened to college? I thought you were getting your teaching degree.”

She shrugged and took the dish cloth from her apron pocket. “That was the plan.” She wouldn’t go into how she’d had to put off her schooling to come home and see after her mother. Surely he’d heard the story about Constance falling asleep with a lit cigarette and almost burning down the house—with her inside it—from the town gossip mill. “I finished my three years at University. Now I have to complete my Post-Graduate Certificate of Education. I had to put that on hold for a while, so in the meantime, I’m doing this.”

“Great. That means I’ll see you often. Maybe we can get together for a movie or something? Jailhouse Rock is showing at the Bijou.”

Elvis and Noah at the same time? Her heart wouldn’t take it.

Before the break-up, she’d gone to the drive-in to see Rebel Without a Cause with him. James Dean had died less than a month earlier, and she cried throughout the entire movie. Noah had held her, comforted her. Let her cry on his shoulder. That was their last movie together. The night remained a sad memory for more than one reason.

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Did you like watching Elvis movies when you were younger? Or, even now? What ‘guilty pleasure’ movies have you enjoyed over the years?

 

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