November 15, 1956
Love Me Tender premiered in New York
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Do you remember 1956?
This was the year: Dwight Eisenhower was President, Fats Domino sang “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill”, Buddy Holly and the Crickets appeared at New York’s Paramount Theater and “Love Me Tender” starring Richard Egan, Debra Paget and introducing Elvis Presley premiered at the Paramount Theater that is located at 43rd Street and Broadway in New York’s Time Square Theater District.
It was before the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dixie Cups, and Diana Ross and the Supremes came on the music scene with their wonderful music.
It was when: Henry J automobiles, Woolworths Department Stores, Drive-in theaters, Colonial Stores and Jacobs Drug Stores, where Coca Cola was first sold, thrived, and….
It was 54 years ago when fans of Elvis Presley gathered at New York’s Paramount Theater under a huge 40 foot cut-out of the King of rock and roll, on Thursday, November 15, 1956, to see the premiere of “Love Me Tender”, a wide screen, “Cinemascope” motion picture. Some called the Cinemascope process, 3-D without glasses.
In 1956, Coke was still a nickel, popcorn a quarter and a movie just a quarter.
Elvis Presley appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and performed “Love Me Tender” for the first time….And, because of the unprecedented advance sale of over a million copies of that RCA recording, making it a “Gold Record” before it was even released; the producers for the movie changed the title from The Reno Brothers to Love Me. Tender.
Love Me Tender was a hit for Twentieth Century-Fox, despite a few negative reviews. Many more, however, gave it thumbs-up saying “Elvis can act.” Young ladies, Elvis’ true fans, could not control their excitement and screamed for joy throughout the movie.
If you could hear the movie you were treated to a story…..
about a Mother’s love for her family and the love triangle within a Southern-Texas family who were recovering from four years of terrible war. To make things more complicated, the Reno Brothers and others held on to money that they took during a raid on a Union gold shipment. They did not know the war had ended when they took the money.
What a movie, with Elvis Presley singing 4 songs, a wonderful musical score by Lionel Newman and the great movie direction by Robert D. Webb who also directed: The Proud Ones and On the Threshold of Space during the same year.
The song “Love Me Tender” came from a War Between the States era song “Aura Lee.”
The movie also starred veteran actors Neville Brand, Robert Middleton, James Drury, William Campbell and a very credible and heart-warming performance by Mildred Dunnock as the Mother of the Reno Brothers.
Elvis Presley attended a private screening of the movie on November 20th at the Loews State Theater in Memphis, Tennessee prior to its nationwide release on November 21st. During the screening Elvis’s Mother, Gladys Presley cried at the death of her son’s character at the end. Elvis Presley would insist that his characters would not die again on the screen. The death scene, however, would become famous as many people, young and old, wept at the movies ending that highlighted Elvis’ character singing Love Me Tender as the family walked away from his grave. What an ending to a great movie!
America and the world will never forget Elvis Presley!