ELVIS PRESLEY HISTORY – ARTICLES
ELVIS – HUDSON THEATER. NEW YORK. JULY 1, 1956. STEVE ALLEN SHOW. THE HUMILIATION OF THE ARTIST
Elvis arrives at the Hudson Theatre, a former Broadway house now converted into an NBC studio, in New York City, to perform on the “Steve Allen Show.”
Upon arrival, he is greeted by a fan. The girl had come all the way from Long Island for the sole purpose of meeting her idol.
Elvis‘ look and the affection with which he holds his hand are another example of the love that Elvis felt for his fans and for his audience. They were always the most important thing to him. And he always gave them all his attention and sincere love.
Elvis continued to break TV audience records, despite the fact that his performances had already become a danger to the American establishment, and this day he would suffer what, for him, was the greatest humiliation of his career, having to sing the song “Hound Dog” dressed in a tuxedo, to a basset hound on a pedestal, with a top hat.
After Elvis garnered so much attention with his previous appearances on the “Dorsey Brothers” and “Milton Berle” shows, Allen decided that Elvis was just what he needed to boost his ratings, and booked him to appear on his Sunday show. on the night of July 1, 1956.
The audience potential for Allen’s show skyrocketed with Elvis’s performance, after Elvis’ version of “Hound Dog” performed on the “Milton Berle” show on June 6, which had caused an absolute scandal. and a generalized condemnation of the television press and the wealthy American society.
But Allen had already begun making plans to emasculate Elvis’ performance, before getting the nod from NBC in mid-June:
“It never bothered me at all, but there had to be some kind of acknowledgment out of all that outrageous publicity, if only for comedic purposes. So I decided to put Elvis in evening wear. We actually put him in a tail, and built a very dignified set, consisting mainly of Greek columns and a sky in the background and billowing gauze curtains… It was very dignified. We could have even had a chandelier in sight. And we put this wonderful basset hound, in a low Greek column, and we had Elvis sing it to him, in this very dignified Carnegie Hall setting, and the contrast between the somewhat goofy lyrics of that particular song and the wild way Elvis sang it“
In the end, Allen got what he wanted, beating his great rival on Sunday nights, Ed Sullivan, by bringing Elvis to his show.
Elvis continued to break TV ratings records, shaking the foundations of American society, still dressed in a tuxedo, singing to a dog “in a very dignified Carnegie Hall setting.”
You’d think the Elvis-condemning conservative press would have won a victory by talking about Allen’s role in “taming” Elvis, but instead they just further fueled their rebellion.
In the face of offensive criticism from the press, Elvis found an advocate in John Lardner, who wrote the following in “Lardner’s Week,” a regular column in Newsweek:
“Allen’s ethics were questionable from the start. He soiled Presley, an impartial judge would say, by dressing him like a corpse, in a white tie and tails. This is a costume often seen on headliners at funerals, but only when the deceased has specifically requested it in their will. Elvis made no such request, or in this case, made no will. Elvis was set up.”
That same day, after the performance, faced with the attacks and humiliations he was receiving, Elvis regretfully, angry and resigned, stopped by Hy Gardner‘s live television talk show:
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong,” he told Gardner. “I don’t see how any kind of music could have a bad influence on people, when it’s just music. I can’t understand it… How could rock music make someone rebel against their parents?…”
Elvis always said that it was the greatest humiliation he had suffered in his career. And he made it very clear, three days later, on July 4th at his glorious concert in Russwood Park, upon his return to Memphis, when he addressed the crowd and said joyfully and confidently: ” You know those people in New York aren’t going to change me at all.” “Tonight I’m going to show you what the real Elvis looks like…“.
And the rest is history…
Photos: Alfred Wertheimer. The photographer of your soul
Information provided by Elvis. El Chico de Tupelo
Rosa Garcia Mora.
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