1956 Gleason Stage Shows

1956 Gleason Stage Shows

Rare, original 1956 letter from Colonel Tom Parker to Steve Yates regarding payment to Steve Yates for his commision for Elvis Presley's first four appearances on National Television.

Appearances on the Jackie Gleason, Dorsey brothers "Stage Show" CBS.

Document originally from Elvis Presley Enterprises, archives of Graceland and was on display for many years at the world famous ELVIS-A-RAMA MUSEUM.

The ELVIS-A-RAMA MUSEUM has been bought by Graceland and retired.

This extremely rare, historic, original letter dated March 5, 1956 was from Elvis' Manager Colonel Tom Parker to Steve Yates of Yates Artist Corporation, who was the agent representing the Jackie Gleason, Dorsey brothers "Stage Show" CBS.

This letter concerning Steve Yates commission for Elvis Presley's first four appearances on the Jackie Gleason Stage Shows.

As of December 1955 Elvis had still not made an appearance on national television. His manager Colonel Tom Parker negotiated a deal through Steve Yates with CBS's "Stage Show" for four appearances on the show in January 1956 at $1,250 each and an option for two more at $1,500 each.
Harry Kalcheim, an agent with William Morris Agency, which represented Elvis, was upset that Parker had booked Elvis through another agent. Colonel Parker, in a straightforward letter written December 16, 1955, chastised Kalcheim for his lackluster attempts to book Elvis. Colonel told him that writing a letter and then sitting back and waiting to hear a reply was no way to sell Elvis. He continued, "If I waited for someone to call me with deals all the time, I would have to start selling candy apples again. Nuff said..."

On Monday, January 23, 1956, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D.J. rehearsed in Memphis for their television debut. Elvis and the Colonel flew to New York on Wednesday the 25th. They stayed at the Warwick Hotel on 52nd Street. Scotty, Bill and D.J. drove from Memphis to New York and arrived on Friday, January 27th.

"Stage Show" was produced by Jackie Gleason and hosted by big band leaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. The thirty-minute program aired on Saturday nights at 8:00 PM as a lead-in to Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners."

Elvis and his band rehearsed at Nola Studios in New York on the morning of Saturday, January 28th. Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ made their first National Television appearance on the Dorsey brother's "Stage Show". That night the show broadcast/aired from CBS TV Studio 50 at 1697 Broadway in New York City. It was raining and the then-unknown Elvis Presley did not draw a large studio audience. Also appearing on the show were singer Sarah Vaughan and comic Gene Sheldon. Tommy Dorsey introduced Cleveland disc jockey Bill Randle, who, in turn, introduced Elvis to his first national audience by saying:

"We'd like at this time to introduce to you a young fellow who, like many performers - Johnnie Ray among them - came out of nowhere to be an overnight big star. This young fellow we saw for the first time while making a movie short. We think tonight that he's going to make television history for you. We'd like you to meet him now - Elvis Presley."

Elvis wore a black shirt, white tie, dress pants with a shiny stripe, and a tweed jacket. He sang a "Shake, Rattle & Roll / Flip, Flop & Fly" medley and "I Got a Woman." The audience reacted with both shock and interest. The show received an 18.4 % ratings share while its competition "The Perry Como Show" on NBC received a 34.6% share. The option was picked up and Elvis appeared a total of six times on "Stage Show."

For these appearances the band rented instruments in New York while Elvis associates Red West and Gene Smith transported the band's own instruments to the next concert appearance using a pink trailer that Elvis' father Vernon had built for this purpose. After the fourth "Stage Show" the rented standup bass that Bill Black had enthusiastically played had to be repaired. Bill had broken the neck, sound post and the back of the instrument. The repairs cost $32.96.

The Colonel took up the option for two more appearances which would total six appearances and eight performances. Elvis' sixth and final "Stage Show" appearance was on March 24, 1956. That night Carl Perkins was to have been on the opposing "Perry Como Show." However, Carl had been badly hurt in an automobile accident on the way to New York. That night on "Stage Show," out of respect for his friend Carl, Elvis refused to sing Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" as previously planned and instead sang "Money Honey."

The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-CBS Studio New York – 28.01.1956r.

The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-
CBS Studio New York – 04.02.1956r.

The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-
CBS Studio New York – 11.02.1956r.

The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-
CBS Studio New York – 18.02.1956r.

The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-
CBS Studio New York – 17.03.1956r.

“The Dorsey Brothers “STAGE SHOW”-
CBS Studio New York – 24.03.1956r.

Exactly spelt, reads as follows:

March 5, 1956

Mr. Steve Yates
Yates Artist Corporation
470 Park Avenue
New York, New York

Dear Steve:

                 I am enclosing herewith the check in the amount of $500.00 for your commission on ELVIS PRESLEY'S four appearances on the Jackie Gleason Stage Shows January 28, February 4, 11, and 18, 1956.

Regards to Mother.

(Signed) Tom
The Colonel


(Written in deep pencil) Paid By check no 255- (Colonel writing)

(Signed) Steve Yates