Sizzling secrets from the past! Find out what really happened when Elvis met Steve Allen.
Sunday Night, July 1, 1956 …
It was a clash of cultures when the King of Rock and Roll appeared on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1956. Steve Allen, known for his late-night talk show, sought to boost his ratings by showcasing the controversial Elvis Presley. However, Allen had his own plans for taming the wild rocker.
The Battle for Ratings
In a strategic move to rival Ed Sullivan’s popular program, Steve Allen signed Elvis Presley to appear on his Sunday evening variety show. Despite both Allen and Sullivan’s reservations about Elvis’s act, Allen knew he needed a jolt of star power to compete. After drawing attention with his previous TV appearances, Elvis was slated to perform on July 1, 1956.
Controversy and Compromise
Elvis’s daring rendition of “Hound Dog” on the Milton Berle show had sparked outrage in the TV entertainment press. Columnists even called for Allen to cancel Presley’s appearance, while NBC emphasized the need for moderation. However, Allen had no intention of canceling and risk missing out on the massive TV audience. With assurances of control from Allen, Elvis’s appearance on July 1 was confirmed.
Allen devised a comedic scheme to present Elvis in a dignified setting, intended to showcase the contrast between the wild performance and the refined atmosphere. Elvis would be dressed in formal attire, surrounded by Greek columns and a elegant set. A basset hound dressed in a top hat and bow tie would serve as his audience.
The Show Must Go On
On the evening of July 1, 1956, Elvis took the stage at the Hudson Theatre in New York, closely monitored by Allen and his team. Despite rumors of restrictions, Elvis managed to captivate the audience with his natural charm and talent. Critics, however, were divided in their opinions of his performance.
While Allen believed that his strategy had successfully tamed Elvis, critics remained skeptical. Some dismissed Elvis’s singing abilities, while others criticized Allen’s tactics. Yet, the show’s ratings spoke for themselves. Allen emerged as the victor, surpassing Ed Sullivan in the Trendex ratings.
Elvis’s appearance on “The Steve Allen Show” may have been a temporary setback, but it did little to dampen his spirit. Back on stage in Memphis the following day, he reassured his fans that he would remain true to himself. Elvis’s star continued to rise, and he proved his critics wrong.
After Elvis’s successful appearance on Allen’s show, Ed Sullivan made a bold move to snatch the King away, offering him a lucrative contract. Despite Allen’s attempt to reign in Elvis’s wild side, Sullivan recognized the power of letting Elvis be himself.
In the end, “The Steve Allen Show” became a mere blip on the road to Elvis’s superstardom. Allen’s attempts to tame the King proved futile. Elvis would go on to become a legend in his own right, leaving behind a legacy that continues to captivate audiences to this day.