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Moment in Time

Elvis Presley shakes up U.S. TV viewers Add to ...

June 5, 1956

America was not quite prepared for the sexy beast that was Elvis Presley in the summer of 1956. The future king of rock’n’roll had already appeared on NBC’s The Milton Berle Show three months earlier, but he lost the guitar for his return visit. In a raucous rendition of Hound Dog, Presley swivelled his hips madly and cradled the mike stand like a lover. Before the show wrapped, the NBC switchboard was flooded with angry callers. The next day, New York Daily News reviewer Ben Gross deemed Presley’s performance “suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.” But Elvis was no dummy: A few months later, the kid from Tupelo, Miss., inked a deal with the far more popular Ed Sullivan Show for a record-breaking sum of $50,000. Mercy.

Elvis Presley checks his hair before performing on the Milton Berle Show in Burbank, California. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley with some of his fans during an appearance on the Milton Berle show. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley takes a break during rehearsals for the Milton Berle Show in Burbank, California. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley chats with Milton Berle before his tv appearance. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley dancing on the set of the the Milton Berle Show in Burbank, California. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images

Rock and roll musician Elvis Presley performs during rehearsals for the Milton Berle Show in Burbank, California. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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