Sunday Night, July 1, 1956 …

Elvis Presley on "The Steve Allen Show":
The Taming of Rock 'n' Roll and Its Biggest Star

“Steve Allen … he was out to humiliate an entire culture he would have called hillbillies. It was all a smear.”— Writer Dave Marsh in “Elvis: The Searcher”


It’s doubtful Steve Allen had that specific goal in mind when he signed Elvis Presley to appear on his new Sunday night variety show in the summer of 1956. After two years as the host of NBC’s late night talk show, Allen jumped into the network’s Sunday 8 p.m. prime time slot on June 24 directly opposite Ed Sullivan on CBS. Neither man cared for Elvis Presley’s act, but Allen realized he needed a quick rating booster if he was to compete with Sullivan’s top rated program. After Presley drew so much attention with his earlier appearances on the Dorsey Brothers and Milton Berle shows, Allen decided Elvis was what he needed and signed him to appear on his Sunday evening show on July 1, 1956.