Fame and Fortune : 1956


“But to know that you love me brings fame and fortune my way”

-Fame and Fortune Lyrics, 1960.

Elvis’s career really took off in 1956. With touring, television appearances, record-breaking sales, and movie productions Elvis was on top of the world. In January, Elvis begins recording I Got A Woman, Heartbreak Hotel, Money Honey, I’m Counting On You and I Want You, I Need You, I Love You with RCA. From January 23rd-27th Elvis and his band begin rehearsal for their first national television appearance on the Jackie Gleason Show. They appeared January 28th and performed I Got A Woman; Shake, Rattle, and Roll; and Flip, Flop, Fly. After his performance, Elvis travels to New York to do his first session at RCA in which Blue Suede Shoes, My Baby Left Me, One-Sided Love Affair, So Glad You’re Mine, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You), and Tutti Frutti was recorded.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

In February, Elvis makes his second, third, and fourth appearance on the Jackie Gleason Show. On February 25th, 1956, I Forgot To Remember To Forget makes Elvis his first national #1. It stays up there for the next 2 weeks and is only the beginning to his #1 hit records. By March 3rd, he has six singles RCA’s list of top 25 best sellers including Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The Once, Mystery Train/I Forgot To Remember To Forget, Good Rockin’ Tonight, Baby Let’s Play House, That’s All Right (Mama), and Milkcow Boogie Blues. Heartbreak Hotel spends 27 weeks on the pop charts after it crosses over from the country. Heartbreak Hotel was estimated to have sold 300,000 copies.

On March 13th, 1956 Elvis releases his first LP, Elvis Presley. Elvis signs a long-term contract with Colonel Parker on March 15th getting Parker a 25% commission on everything Elvis does. With this, Elvis travels to Los Angeles later in the month to meet with Hal B. Wallis who is a producer for Paramount Pictures. His record career is really taking off selling over 100,000 copies of his first LP. Elvis always had a passion for acting and was excited to begin this next step of his career. On April 1st, Elvis had his screen test for Paramount in which he sang Blue Suede Shoes and does a scene from The Rainmaker.

Elvis Screen Test – Blue Suede Shoes

 Between the screen test and actually making the movie deal, Elvis makes a performance on The Milton Berle Show on the deck of the USS Hancock in San Diego.

Milton Berle Show – Blue Suede Shoes


Elvis signed a seven-year deal with Paramount, with Hal B. Wallis productions on April 6th. The deal was to have three pictures starting at $100,000 and capping out around $200,000 each. On his way home from Memphis, Elvis’s plane encounters issues and makes its way back to Memphis even after the plane lost its engine. This leaves Elvis reluctant to fly for years. Heartbreak Hotel ends up being Elvis’s first million seller and breaks every record with this hit song. April was a very busy month. He had done his first performance in Vegas and does not have a good experience. The audience does not take to Elvis well.

Heartbreak Hotel

Elvis moves him and his parents into their very first home which cost $40,000 and pays cash for it. By May Heartbreak Hotel sold over 1,350,000 copies and continues to move up 70,000 each week. On Elvis’s second performance on the Milton Berle Show, Elvis’s sexuality really began creating problems. NBC made a statement saying he will not “bump and grind” during his next performance on The Steve Allen Show in July. During that performance on July 1st, Elvis sings Hound Dog to a basset hound. Because the ratings were so high, Ed Sullivan called to have Elvis on his show after he claimed he would never have him on his show.

Elvis holds a benefit concert for the local Memphis milk fund and over 15,000 screaming fans showed up hoping to get the door prize – a diamond ring with Elvis’s initials.

Interview With Elvis

Elvis signed the contract with Ed Sullivan for three appearances at $50,000, giving him the highest-paid guest star on a variety show in television history. Hound Dog, at this point, has sold over a million copies and Elvis gets on the road to Florida. He had performances in Tampa, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, 42ac349e5eadbfc7363443ac0ec059eaOrlando, Daytona Beach, and Jacksonville. Jacksonville, he encountered some issues when a judge put out a warrant for Elvis’s arrest if he wiggles during a performance. Elvis tones down his performances during the rest of the tour.

His movie career takes off on August 23rd when shooting for Love Me Tender begins. On August 30th, Elvis receives his first death threat and it was sent over on postcards and turned it over to the FBI. Even with the movie career, Elvis continues to make records and releases Elvis Presley and The Real Elvis in extended-play. With all the success entering his life, Elvis surprises his mother Gladys with a custom pink Cadillac. That same month, Elvis made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Don’t Be Cruel reaches #1 and gets another gold record. By October, Elvis and his movements have really upset conservative Americans, having radio stations refusing to play his songs. Elvis encounters problems when he goes out in public because riots break out.

Don’t Be Cruel

October 18th, Elvis stops at a gas station in Texas and a crowd begins to gather. Hopper of Hopper’s gas station asks Elvis to leave, but Elvis refuses since he needs gasoline. Hopper begins pushing Elvis and forces him back into the car, 37ce686d6d5b17fdafdf59bde8a042a4so Elvis punches him giving him a black eye. The police charged both with assault and disorderly conduct. The court acquitted Elvis on October 19th and Hopper and the other attendant are found guilty and fined. Continuing with the crowd struggle, on October 21st, Elvis is mobbed at a movie theater leaving his Cadillac damaged. Things change drastically on October 24th when Elvis receives a letter from a draft board concerning his draft status.

Love Me Tender premiers on November 16th and has to turn crowds away as the show is sold old. The film had mixed reviews, but it was clear to the media that Elvis had a future as an actor. Elvis continues to encounter trouble as his fame only grows. An angry man in Toledo starts a fight with Elvis because his wife carries a picture of him around in her wallet. The man assaults Scotty Moore and Elvis jumps in to defend him. Later that same week, Elvis has a performance in Louisville where they have a strict “no wiggle” ban on the singer.

Elvis’s performance at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair in Tupelo

(30 minutes long, the screaming cracks me up. That would have been me.)

The Million Dollar Quartet, containing Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash take place on December 4th. The four men ran into one another at sun studios and began a jam session. On December 29th, Billboard reveals that Elvis has the most songs on the Top 100 since the chart started. Elvis had an extremely busy year in 1956. This is the year his career really started to take off and was being recognized nationally. 1957 brought a lot of changes and a possible threat to the future of Elvis’s fame.


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