Elvis on Ed Sullivan, 1956

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death—the singer was only 42 when he died at Graceland. Leading up to his death, his health had been deteriorating, and earlier that year journalist Tony Scherman wrote that "Presley had become a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self. Hugely overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopoeia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts." But just four years earlier, he was attempting a "comeback," and returned to New York City for his first performances here in 15 years. The shows were held at Madison Square Garden, where he donned his famous white suit:

June 9th, 1972—Madison Square Garden ("Filmed by ABC TV crew")

June 9th, 1972—Madison Square Garden

June 10th, 1972—Madison Square Garden

Some fun facts about Elvis in NYC:

  • On March 23rd, 1955, a young Elvis took his first plane ride and came to New York City to audition for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, a show that aired on CBS. The audition for the televised talent show took place at 501 Madison Avenue. He didn't make the cut.
  • During the same trip, Elvis got to see Bo Diddley perform at the Apollo.
  • In November 1955, Elvis returned to New York with a record contact and manager, and according to Inside the Apple, did "a round of publicity photos."
  • He returned again in January 1956 for his first national television appearance on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. He sang "Shake, Rattle & Roll," "Flip Flop and Fly," and "I Got a Woman."
  • He also cut tracks at RCA studios in early 1956, at 155 East 24th Street. The songs, like "Blue Suede Shoes," would appear on his debut album.
  • After his performance on the Milton Berle Show, he was dubbed "Elvis the Pelvis," and NY Times writer Jack Gould wrote, “Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability."
  • He returned to make his famous Ed Sullivan Show appearance later in 1956.

Last night, as fans gathered for the anniversary at Graceland, the King’s former wife and daughter turned up—according to the Washington Post, this was "the first time Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley have appeared together at the annual gathering."