Today in History: Elvis Gets His Shake On!

On June 5th in 1956, Elvis made his second appearance on The Milton Berle Show. Unlike every other appearance the rising star had made on TV that year, he decided to put down his acoustic guitar and dance. The result? Scandalous!

If there was one moment that set Elvis the Pelvis apart from the pack and elevated his popularity into the stratosphere among his teen audience most, it was the gyrating he did during “Hound Dog” on Uncle Miltie’s show. By our modern standards, with twerking and all, his dance moves seemed rather tame, but in the context of the time it was a gut punch to the moral establishment that drove American society.

Media critics jumped all over Elvis in the morning papers equating the gyration to an “aborigine’s mating dance” or as something that should be left to burlesque. Ben Gross from the New York Daily News described the performance as,“tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.”

Elvis’s performance that night opened the doorway for so many future performers to incorporate dance into their televised stage shows. Although there are some performances we’d like to forget, we are thankful to the King for showing us how to shake our thing.