June 24, 1956 - 1960
"When I booked Elvis, I naturally had
no interest in just presenting him vaudeville-style and letting him do his spot as he
might in concert. Instead we worked him into the comedy fabric of our program.
I asked him to sing "Hound Dog" (which he had recorded just the day before)
dressed in a classy Fred Astaire wardrobe--white tie and tails--and surrounded him with
graceful Greek columns and hanging draperies that would have been suitable for Sir
Laurence Olivier reciting Shakespeare. For added laughs, I had him sing the number
to a sad-faced basset hound that sat on a low column and also wore a little top hat.
(I learned not long ago that small ceramic statues of the dog-and-top-hat are now among
the more popular items of Presley memorabilia. I think somebody owes me
royalties.) We certainly didn't inhibit Elvis' then-notorious pelvic gyrations, but
I think the fact that he had on formal evening attire made him, purely on his own,
slightly alter his presentation.
"I thanked him for his frankness but told him I thought
he should accept Ed's offer. The reason, primarily, was that I didn't think it
reasonable to continue to have to construct sketches and comic gimmicks in which Presley,
a noncomic, could appear. Ed's program, having a vaudeville-variety format, was a
more appropriate showcase for Elvis' type of performance.
|Special Offer --
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Steve Allen's 38th book is an autobiography covering his fifty years in radio and television. Filled with comedy, both on- and off-camera, this is Allen's first-person look at the Golden Age of TV. Hi-Ho, Steverino! includes Steve's experiences as creator and first host of the Tonight Show, and his years as star of his own primetime comedy series The Steve Allen Show, where he worked with such gifted comedy players as Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Louis Nye, Pat Harrington, Jr., Gabriel Dell, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen, Buck Henry, Tim Conway, The Smothers Brothers, and Jim Nabors. In recalling the glory years of these series, Allen reminisces about getting to know such luminous guests as Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. There's a chapter on Allen's award-winning PBS series Meeting of Minds, and reports on his other comedy-and-talk shows, series and specials, in which he relates on-the-air TV boners, mistakes, and technical mishaps that are now part of the comic folklore of television history. Along the way, Steve Allen pays tribute to Arthur Godfrey, Ernie Kovacs, Jack Paar, Dave Garroway, Jerry Lester, and other video pioneers.
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