Elvis Presley Timeline: 1956

A historical Elvis Presley timeline of dates and important events

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Here's a handy database of dates and events in Elvis Presley's life during 1956. You can also find out what else Elvis was up to in 1956 and in all the years of his life.

January 28: Elvis makes his first national television appearance, performing on CBS' Stage Show, produced by Jackie Gleason and hosted by the swing bandleaders the Dorsey Brothers, Tommy and Jimmy. He performs "I Got A Woman" and a medley: "Shake, Rattle and Roll / Flip, Flop and Fly." He would make five more appearances on the show in the course of the year.


February 5: Elvis scores his first national Number One hit, not with an RCA release but his last Sun single, "Mystery Train" b/w "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," which reaches the top spot on Billboard's country singles chart.
February 17: Elvis is awarded his first gold album (for the LP Elvis).
February 23: After a performance in Jacksonville, FL, Elvis collapses from exhaustion and is rushed to a nearby hospital.
March 15: Elvis renegotiates his contract with Colonel Tom Parker, which now gives Parker one-quarter of the singer's earnings.
March 24: Presley visits friend and fellow Sun labelmate Carl Perkins in a Dover, DE hospital, where he is recovering from a near-fatal car crash.
April 1: Elvis goes to Paramount Studios for a screen test, lip-synching "Blue Suede Shoes" and performing a scene as Bill Starbuck in The Rainmaker, still in production. Presley will eventually be passed over for this film, and his role taken over by Burt Lancaster.

Apparently impressed, Paramount and director Hal Wallis sign Elvis to a seven-year contract five days later.
April 3: Presley appears on NBC's Milton Berle Show in a remote from the deck of the USS Hancock aircraft carrier.
April 23: The singer begins a disastrous concert stint at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas at the insistence of Colonel Tom Parker.

The audience, miles removed from Elvis teen fanbase, are completely indifferent to him, and his contract is soon torn up. However, while there, Presley witnesses a band called Freddie Bell and the Bellboys doing a wild rave-up version of Big Mama Thorton's blues hit "Hound Dog." He soon works it into the live act.
May 21: 2,500 fans storm the stage at the Municipal Auditorium in Topeka, KS during Elvis' show there.
June 5: The Berle show once again presents Elvis, this time in the NBC studios. Presley debuts his borrowed arrangement of "Hound Dog" as well as his latest single, "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." However, the public and press are so outraged by his gyrations during "Hound Dog" that the show never has him back.
June 26: Elvis complains about the "Hound Dog" furor publicly during his concert in Charlotte, NC, saying that dancer and fellow guest Debra Paget was more obscene with her routine than he had been.
July 1: NBC's Steve Allen Show capitalizes on the outrage by presenting a new, "clean" Elvis, singing "Hound Dog" to an actual basset hound perched on a stool and wearing a bow tie. Backstage, Elvis explodes in fury at the Colonel for agreeing to the stunt.
August 10: Juvenile Court Judge Marion Gooding attends Elvis' first show at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville, FL, and afterwards, orders Presley to tone his movements down.

The next night, the singer responds by moving only one pinky finger.
August 22: Elvis begins shooting his first movie, Love Me Tender, a Civil War drama that has been renamed from The Reno Brothers in order to capitalize on his new single. Elvis is billed third, but his role, originally offered to Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter, is beefed up to match his new popularity.
September 9: Elvis makes the first of three contracted appearances on Ed Sullivan's CBS show. (Sullivan had previously announced he would never have such an act on, but ratings prevailed and Sullivan offered Elvis $50,000 for the three shows, more than any other act had ever been offered.) Charles Laughton hosts, filling in for an ailing Sullivan. Elvis performs "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "Ready Teddy," and "Hound Dog" -- but is shot from the waist up only.


September 29: Elvis returns to the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, the same venue at which he won second prize for singing back when he was ten years old. The mayor declares today Elvis Presley Day. Hundreds of National Guardsmen are called in to control the crowd.
October 28: Presley makes his second appearance on the Sullivan show, this time with Ed as host. Elvis sings "Don’t Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "Hound Dog," and "Love Me."
November 16: Love Me Tender opens to solid reviews and massive box office.
November 25: Elvis visits his grandfather Jesse D. Presley at his job -- the Pepsi bottling plant in Louisville, KY. Elvis buys Jesse a white '57 Ford Fairlane.
December 4: Elvis drops into the Sun Studios in Memphis to visit Carl Perkins, then recording with a still-unknown Jerry Lee Lewis on piano. At some point during the afternoon, Johnny Cash, also on Sun, drops in, and the four begin an informal jam session that would later be known as the "Million Dollar Quartet" sessions (though there is some debate on how many, if any, tracks Cash himself is on). Largely covers of gospel, bluegrass, and a little R&B, the tapes finally see the light of day in the early Eighties.
December 31: This day's edition of The Wall Street Journal reports Elvis' gross 1956 income at around $22 million.