One of America’s biggest TV stars, Ed Sullivan, has famously insisted he would never have as a guest one of America’s biggest pop stars, Elvis Presley. That is, until Presley in July visited Sullivan’s main competitor, The Steve Allen Show, and clobbered the rest of Sunday night in the ratings. Knowing a “really big show” when he saw one, Sullivan relented and hosted The King for three appearances, the first of which happened on this date and drew 60 million viewers. Notably absent from this landmark episode of The Ed Sullivan Show—one of the highest-rated TV episodes ever—was Ed Sullivan. He was recuperating from an automobile accident, leaving stentorian substitute host Charles Laughton to introduce Elvis, who performed from Hollywood.
The story that Sullivan refused to show the hip-gyrating dance moves for which Elvis was already notorious is largely apocryphal. Although he is primarily shot from the waist-up in the above clip, his second Sullivan appearance in October featured plenty of full-body footage, albeit with a giant blue dot obscuring the singer’s hound dog. -A.D.
Today’s Birthdays: Angela Cartwright, made room for daddy (60); Jeffrey Combs, Questioner (58); John Kricfalusi, Ren & Stimpy imaginer (57); Constance Marie, Lopez love (47); Cliff Robertson, Rocket Ranger (d. 2011); Adam Sandler, Opera Man (46); Julia Sawalha, wild about Saffron (44); Eric Stonestreet, birthday clown (41); Margaret Tyzack, BBC playhouse player (d. 2011); Michelle Williams, Creek temptress (32); Tom Wopat, Duke boy (61).