Video: Elvis’ Performance On The Ed Sullivan Show Is One Of The Most Controversial Ever

Updated August 15, 2016

Madonna was known for pushing the envelope when it came to televised sexuality back in the 80s, with her openly seductive dance moves and on-screen relationships with statues that came to life. Brittany Spears had her turn in the 90s when she bared her mid-riff and put a new spin on the innocent school girl with “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” and Miley Cyrus seems to be today’s version of what some consider to be overly sexual with her seductive Wrecking Ball video.

But, before Spears, Madonna and Cyrus broke the mold for women performers, there was one legend who started the entire sexual performance movement. Elvis Presley.

The world had never seen anything like it. Up until Presley appeared on stage, no one had seen a musician perform quite as lewd as the Tennessee native himself. Not long after Presley took the stage, he became well known as “The King of Rock,” and was recognized as being a bad influence on youngsters. Americans were spinning their heads over the musician who had the capability of making an entire coliseum of women swoon and men wanting to be just like him.

In the 1950s, celeb talk show host, Ed Sullivan, was too timid to put Elvis Presley on his show, but it didn’t take long for him to change his mind. Presley, who was the first musician to really push the limit when it came to vulgarity and sex appeal, quickly became a musical icon, and Sullivan soon changed his mind about having the sex symbol on his show.

Sullivan ate his words, after stating that he would NEVER have Presley on his show. Once he saw the musician’s popularity and appeal skyrocket with men and women alike, he invited him on the show. Regardless of Presley’s “bad influence” on youngsters everywhere, Sullivan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the sensation perform on his show. Soon enough, the star’s lower half was moving easily on stage as he belted out “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog,” and the entire world was able to fall in love with “The King.”

CBS wasn’t too keen on Sullivan’s invitation, and deemed the celeb as being “too raunchy,” with his gyrating hips and thrusts and that natural sex appeal that seemed to seep off of him and into the fainting audience. Women were going wild for “Elvis the Pelvis,” and his moves.

Much to CBS’ chagrin, Sullivan had invited Presley on the show to perform, not once, but three times. By the third time, the in-your-face obscenity was too much for the television network to handle and they made Sullivan agree to having Elvis filmed from only the waist up.

Evidently, Presley had enough sexuality in his upper body and facial expressions to keep the crowd roaring and that didn’t stop women from breaking out in tears. By today’s measures, Presley’s moves would be considered mild, but back in the 50s, they were anything but.