Steve Allen Comedy Show - NBC
  June 24, 1956 - 1960
     Regarding Elvis Presley's appearance on the The Steve Allen Show, Steve writes in Hi-Ho Steverino!:

"While Elvis Appeared on my program, before he performed on Ed's (Sullivan), I had seen him a few months earlier on Jackie Gleason's summer replacement Stage Show, which featured bandleaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.  I didn't catch his name that night and have no recollection now as to what he sang, but I found his strange, gangly, country-boy charisma, his hard-to-define cuteness, and his charming eccentricity intriguing.  The next day I typed a memo to my staff people to find out who he was, and to book him for our new Sunday night show.
     "Between the date of the memo and when he appeared--July 1, 1956--his recently released recordings had made him an important attraction, as a result of which our program that evening far surpassed Sullivan's in the ratings race.

Elvis on Steve's Show

    "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.
     "For his other spot, I wrote a spoof of a typical country-and-western TV or radio show.  Presley played my sidekick and the two of us were well supported by Andy Griffith, who in those days was a comedian, and the always delightful Imogene Coca.

Steve as Madame Smock      "Inasmuch as Elvis later made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, I've often been asked why I didn't make the same arrangements with  him myself.   Here's the reason:  Before we even left the studio the night Elvis appeared on our show, Ed telephoned Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, backstage at our own theatre.  So desperate was he to make the booking, in fact, that he broke what had until that moment been a $7,500 price ceiling on star-guests, offering the Colonel $10,000 per shot.  Parker told Sullivan he'd get back to him, walked over to us, shared the news of Sullivan's offer, and said, 'I feel a sense a loyalty to you fellows because you booked Elvis first, when we needed the booking;  so if you'll meet Sullivan's terms we'll be happy to continue to work on your program.'

"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.
"For his own part, Elvis had a terrific time with us and lent himself willingly to our brand of craziness.  He was an easy-going, likeable, and accommodating performer.   He quickly become the biggest star in the country;  but when I ran into him from time-to-time over the years it was clear that he had never let his enormous success go to his head."

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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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