ELVIS 1956 September

First Ed Sullivan Show

By Paul Belard

Book Review by Nigel Patterson, June 2020


Elvis 1956 - September 9, First Ed Sullivan Show - by Paul Belard

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, June 2020
(Note: this book was edited by the reviewer prior to its publication)
“What Elvis is doing is definitely evil and can only be inspired by the devil!”

The latest photo-book by Paul Belard showcases just one night in Elvis’ storied career, his first appearance on America’s top rating entertainment program, The Ed Sullivan Show (Toast of the Town) on September 9, 1956.

It was an appearance that stunned TV viewers, with the sixty million Americans watching either spellbound or shocked, as a gyrating Elvis made a sensational debut on the country's most popular programme.

Paul Belard writes that it ‘is the day that rock ‘n’ roll truly established itself as the ascendant and unstoppable musical force in America and the world’.
While Elvis’ third appearance on the Sullivan Show is more remembered, due to him being filmed “from the waist up”, it is his first appearance that broke television viewing records. As Paul Belard states,
Viewership records established by Elvis’ appearance were only broken on 9 February, 1964, when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, also for the first time. It is however comparing apples to oranges, since the number of television sets and teenagers were more numerous than 7 years earlier. But not even the Beatles, or anyone for that matter, not the Moon landing, or the Kennedy Funeral, even Lady Diana’s, or anything related to any political or sports event, has been able to better the percentage share achieved that glorious night by Elvis for CBS, a humongous 82.6%, which is the record, to this day.

Belard also observes, ‘...at the time of Elvis’ appearance critics viewed him as obscene and vulgar. And even during Elvis’ first appearance, the reaction of his female fans in the audience led to the cameraman finding tighter shots of Elvis on stage.

The vehemence intrinsic to the public controversy around Elvis in 1956 is reflected in another article, Ed Sullivan Challenged on ‘Good Taste’ for Elvis Presley TV Intrusion In Homes. Written by Monsignor John S. Kennedy, it includes:
Anything more outrageously offensive to good taste, is hard to imagine – within the limits of the law. The young man seems devoid of talent, unless one recognises such a thing as a talent for vulgarity.
How then, does he happen to appear again and again on a program allegedly governed by the American family’s sovereign demand for things of good taste?
The article also quotes New York Times columnist, Jack Gould, who opined:
To resort to the world’s oldest theatrical come-on just to make a fast buck.....is cheap and tawdry stuff.
Ed Sullivan was interviewed about Elvis’ appearance on his show and had a very different view:
“...I believe millions will vote with me that his performance was in good taste”
As with other Belard photo-books, it is the visual element that dominates.
The majority of the images are black and white and number around 200. Most are sourced from AP/Museum of Television & Radio. Given they were filmed almost seven decades ago, several images are quite dark and this is arguably not helped by the black page border (a white border might be a better choice to improve the appearance of lower quality images). This issue is not evident with any of the colorised images, which have a strong visual resonance.
Overall, there is a visual feast on offer. Starting with the great front cover image, the highlights include:
p49:     a full length shot of a “very cool” King of Rock ‘n Roll
p61:     a seated Elvis surrounded by a bevy of his adoring female fans (you wonder just what he is thinking)
p73:     a colorised image of the “Menace from Memphis” (the original b&w image taken from a Rave magazine article, “The 7 Sins of Elvis Presley” (arguing Elvis is evil!)
p79:     an unusual live on stage image
p97:     a darkened, lonely stage and a lonesome cowboy
p114:   Elvis, in the make-up room, having his face “brushed”
p124:   a great, well framed and clear image of Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys
p143:   Elvis holding the curtain at the stage edge – is he about to jump into the audience?
p177:   an overly colorised, but nevertheless, striking, cover image of the TV Radio Mirror edition featuring Elvis

The visual element is nicely complemented by an array of important and fascinating archival material. Among the historic items are:

  • press ads for Elvis’ appearance
  • reviews of Elvis’ appearance on the Sullivan show
  • a two-page feature article from Collier’s magazine, Ed Sullivan’s Thoughts on Elvis
  • NBC Rules Out Elvis Presley’s Offensive Tactics on TV
  • Elvis On The Ed Sullivan Show: The Real Story
  • Letter from TV Guide to RCA Victor enclosing an advance copy of the magazine with Elvis on the cover
  • the New York Times article, Tonal Plethora (the second page of which is unfortunately hard to read due to the font size being small)
  • Why Elvis Presley got paid much more than The Beatles for the Ed Sullivan Show


Verdict: Elvis 1956 September 9 First Ed Sullivan Show is another strong release by Paul Belard. Elvis historians and researchers will especially appreciate the fine archival record it offers with hundreds of visuals and primary source material of one of the most significant events in the Elvis Presley story.

The book is published in softcover (21.5 x 27.5 cms) by Linden Press (ISBN-13: 978-1733922111). The first edition, signed by the author, is limited to 50 copies. Contact the author to order: pbelard@hotmail.com

Review by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN June 2020
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Comment on this review 


The Paul Belard Book List

(highlighted books reviewed by EIN)

Elvis A Humanitarian

Elvis The Gospel Singer

Elvis Black and White to Technicolor

Elvis January - February 1956

Elvis March 1956

Elvis April 1956

Elvis May 1956

Elvis Las Vegas April - May 1956

Elvis December 1956

Elvis in Hawaii November 1957

Elvis September 1958 Germany Bound

Elvis 1960 Seven Days in March

Elvis 1960 March 7 to March 31

(Book Review) Elvis Black and White to Technicolor (Paul Belard and Joseph Krein): The latest release from Paul Belard (with Joseph Krein) is one of the more important Elvis books in recent years. The reason why is that addresses the controversial issue that Elvis was racist. The authors tackle the subject of Elvis' relationship with Black America head on through a balanced and impressive mix of text and image.

Belard and Krein's research has uncovered rare archival material on the issue and the book includes hundreds of comments about Elvis by Black Americans.




Read Nigel Patterson's detailed review

(Book Reviews; Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

EIN Website content ©

Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.











































































































Did You Miss these Popular Interviews?
Linda and Sam Thompson in Australia:
John Wilkinson Tribute & 1972 Interview:
Interview - Dr. Gary Vikan:
'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' - Arjan Deelen Interview:
RIP - Bernard Lansky talks to EIN:
Allyson Adams 'The Rebel and The King' Interview: 
Joseph A. Tunzi
David Stanley (2012)
Author Chris Kennedy Interview about D.J. Tommy Edwards:
Vernon Presley Interview:
EIN interviews John Scheinfeld director of  'Fame & Fortune'
Jerry Leiber Interview for EIN
Elvis Paradise Hawaiian Interview - with Peter Noone
Sam Thompson, Elvis' bodyguard, 2011 Interview
James Burton Interview - Rick Nelson & Elvis:
Elvis Drummer Jerome "Stump" Monroe EIN Interview:
Donnie Sumner Remembers his friend Sherrill Nielsen: 
Lamar Fike EIN Exclusive Interview
Jamie Aaron Kelley - EIN Interview:
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'The Complete Masters' and more:
D.J Fontana Interview - Elvis Week 2010 special: 
Red West Interview:- 2010 Elvis week special
Linda Thompson - Interview Special:
Elvis in 1969 - Ann Moses & Ray Connolly Interviews:
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'On Stage' and Elvis' Legacy in 2010:
Paul Lichter
Dr. Nick talks to EIN
Alanna Nash
Ernst Jorgensen (2009)
Joseph Pirzada
Jeanne LeMay Dumas
Larry Geller
Mac Davis
Roger Semon
Ernst Jorgensen
Wayne Jackson (Memphis Horns)
Ernst Jorgensen (Record Collector)
Did You Miss these Popular EIN articles
'The Nation's Favourite Elvis Song' Spotlight
Linda and Sam Thompson in Australia:
Elvis Passwords - We’ve Hacked them all! 
Fourteen Key Elvis Singles:
Remembering ELVIS in 2013:
Elvis And The Vocal Group Tradition:
Happy Birthday EIN EIN turns 100 – a retrospective!:
Aloha From Hawaii - The Concert 2013- EIN Exclusive
Elvis at Madison Square Garden 40 Years Ago
'The Wedding' Elvis & Priscilla EIN special Spotlight:
'Elvis In Ottawa' Spotlight & Elvis Interview:
'Elvis: Live at the International' Book Review:
Book Review: Elvis in Vegas
'Promised Land' FTD CD Review:
'The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956’ Review:
Elvis By Special Request '71 At 40 (Book Review):
"Kissed By Elvis" Janet Fulton Interview:
'1956, Elvis Presley’s Pivotal Year':
"ReBooked At The International'- in-depth Review:
EIN Spotlight on Alfred Wertheimer:
'Elvis Memphis to Madison 1977' The Gas Station Incident:
'The Elvis Files Vol. 2' Book Review:
'Elvis In Concert' 1977 TV special; Should it be released officially?
Ernst Jorgensen interview about 'The Complete Masters' and more:
Dark Side of the Colonel
Did you miss these Reviews
'Elvis Files Magazine ISSUE 5' Review:
'The Elvis Files Vol. 6 1971-1973'  Book Review:
'Love Me Tender' Blu-Ray Edition Review:
'Houston We Have A Problem' - CD review:
‘Elvis At Stax’ [Deluxe] Reviews:
‘The King Revealed’ Magazine Review:
'Hot August Night' FTD CD Review:
‘The King Revealed’ Magazine Review:
'Elvis - The Man & His Music'#100 review:
'Elvis Files Magazine ISSUE 4' - Review:
'Elvis - Aloha Via Satellite: A 40th Anniv Release' Book Review:
'The Elvis Files Vol. 1 1953-56' In Depth Book Review:
'Aloha From Hawaii' 40th Anniv LEGACY CD Review:
'Elvis Files Magazine ISSUE 3' - Review:
Aloha From Hawaii - The Concert 2013- EIN Exclusive Review:
‘Elvis On Tour’ E-book Review - with Great jumpsuit photos-
'From Elvis Presley Boulevard' FTD In-Depth Review:
'Prince From Another Planet’ In-Depth Review:
'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' - EIN Review:
‘Greatest Live Hits of the 50s’ MRS CD Review: 
Once Upon A Time: Elvis and Anita (Memories of My Mother) - Book Review:
'A Boy From Tupelo' special In-depth Review:
Bootleg Elvis (Book Review)
'G.I.Blues Vol.1' FTD Soundtrack - CD review:
'The Elvis Files Vol. 5 1969-70'  Book Review:
'From Hawaii to Las Vegas' FTD CD Review:
'Blue Hawaii - The Expanded Alternate Album' Review:
'Elvis: Live at the International' Book Review:
'The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956’ Review:
'48 Hours To Memphis' FTD CD Review:
Elvis By Special Request '71 At 40 (Book Review):
'The Elvis Files Vol. 4' Book Review:
'Young Man with the Big Beat' In-Depth Review:
'Fashion For A King' FTD in-depth Review:
"ReBooked At The International'- in-depth Review:
'Stage Rehearsal' FTD Review:
Best of Elvis on YouTube
Graceland cam
EPE's Multimedia Elvis Gallery
Sirius Elvis Satellite Radio
Elvis Radio (ETA's)
Elvis Express Radio
Ultimate Elvis Radio
Elvis Only Radio
"Images in Concert" PhotoDatabase
Radio Interview: Vernon & Gladys Presley
Sanja's Elvis Week 2007 Photo Gallery
'EIN's Best of Elvis on YouTube'
The Music of Elvis Presley - Australian Radio Show
All about Elvis
All about Elvis Tribute Artists
All about Graceland
All about Lisa Marie Presley
Ancestors of Elvis
Art Archives
Book Releases 2009
Contact List
Elvis and Racism
Elvis as Religion
Elvis CDs in 2007
Elvis DVDs in 2006
Elvis Film Guide
'2007 New Releases'
Elvis Presley In Concert "downunder" 2006
Elvis Online Virtual Library
Elvis Research Forum
Elvis Rules on Television
Graceland - The National Historic Landmark
How & where do I sell my Elvis collection?
Is Elvis the best selling artist?
Links to Elvis' family & friends
Links to other Elvis sites
Marty's Musings
Online Elvis Symposium
Parkes Elvis Festival 2009 (Australia)
Presley Law legal archives (Preslaw)
Presleys In The Press
Sale of EPE (Archives)
6th Annual Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King
"Wikipedia" Elvis biography