Watch Elvis Presley’s Iconic “Don’t Be Cruel” Live on The Ed Sullivan Show
via The Ed Sullivan Show / Youtube
Elvis Presley’s third and last visit on The Ed Sullivan Show was widely deemed as iconic. It took place on January 6, 1957, with famous moments that occurred when the CBS censors would not allow his complete body to be displayed on the screen. Even though the audience could only see Elvis from the waist up, he nevertheless put on a spectacular concert, singing seven songs over the course of three periods.
He performed with Sullivan impressionist Will Jordan, ventriloquist Arthur Worsley, and a comedienne named Carol Burnett who was just starting on her career. On that night, Elvis sang a number of songs, some of which included “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Too Much,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” and a gospel standard called “Peace in the Valley.”
His interpretations of his iconic songs such as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog” were the ones that got the crowd in the studio excited. Their cries and praise alerted the television viewers to what Elvis was doing out of camera range, virtually defeating the purpose of the censors who were trying to keep it a secret. Once more, the force of Elvis’ performance was boosted by the contact he had with the crowd in the recording studio.
At the end of the show, Ed Sullivan went out of his way to compliment Elvis Presley. “I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy,” Sullivan said. “And wherever you go, Elvis, we want to say we’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you. So now let’s have a tremendous hand for a very nice person!”
The King of Rock thanked Ed Sullivan for his support by bowing deeply and expressing genuine gratitude before leaving the Ed Sullivan stage for the final time.
Check out Elvis Presley’s performance of “Don’t Be Cruel” below.