ELVIS’ FIRST APPEARANCE on national television was on January 28, 1956, when he performed two songs on Jackie Gleason’s Stage Show. This was the first time that most Americans got to see him and—unless they were a fan of country & western music—it was the first time they got to hear him sing!
At the time of this first appearance, I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train was a double-sided hit in its eighteenth week in the Top 10 on the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers in Stores chart. His new single, Heartbreak Hotel / I Was The One, had just been released the day before.
Elvis Presley – See him! Hear him! on the Jackie Gleason Stage Show!
To promote these appearances, someone printed and distributed a 10 x 14-inch flyer. The front of the flyer featured a black & white photo of the singer that would adorn the covers of his first albums a few months later.
The flyer referred to Elvis as “the most talked-about new personality in the last 10 years of recorded music.” This was a bold statement in early 1956 that would seem rather reserved by the end of the year.
Beneath the photo, the flyer read, “Elvis Presley. See Him! Hear Him! on the Jackie Gleason Stage Show” with the dates for the singer’s first four appearances.
See him on Stage Show
This flyer is an incredibly rare Elvis artifact! A copy was sold on the Heritage Auctions website in 2020. The site’s editor wrote:
“There’s no question this flyer was meant to draw eyeballs to the TV set on those dates, promoting the heck out of RCA’s new wunderkind and get the ball rolling behind the many records they were already starting to press. Best guess is that it was sent out to all press, radio and retail outlets, hoping the latter would post them in their stores for the whole world to see.
These were indeed Elvis’s very first television appearances, with RCA exercising its mighty clout. Although produced by Jackie Gleason, Stage Show was hosted on-air by big-band legends Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. The performances took place at CBS Studios between 53rd & 54th Streets in Manhattan. The winter weather was rough that first night and Elvis was unknown in the Big Apple, so attendance was sparse.
So this wickedly charismatic piece, even in tough condition, could be considered Elvis’s big-bang handbill advertisement from RCA Records. It’s pretty spectacular any way you look at it. And it’s as rare as rare can be; the very first time Heritage has ever had one for sale.”
To see the ad on Heritage Auctions, click here.
The Avid Record Collector’s price guide
The editors at Heritage Auctions did not assign an overall grade to this piece but instead listed the flyer’s flaws. These included upwards of twenty little pinholes, visible creases, water stains, tape residue, and small tears.
Despite this damage, the “See him! Hear him”/Jackie Gleason Stage Show flyer fetched $3,500 at auction!
I could not find any other references to this item on the internet (which doesn’t mean there aren’t any references, just that I didn’t find the right set of words to call up that reference).
On the other hand, its being listed in 2020 may have been the first time it was offered for sale on the internet and most dealers and collectors simply don’t know of its existence.
Should a copy in nearly mint condition be found, it could sell for five figures . . .A flyer advertising Elvis Presley’s first appearances on Jackie Gleason’s Stage Show in 1956 was recently unearthed and, despite extensive damage, it sold for $3,500! Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page is an altered version of the image on the Heritage Auctions site. I “replaced” the pieces that were torn out of the flyer around its edges and cleaned up both the tape and water stains. I left the horizontal crease alone.
While I am not surprised that other copies in better condition of this piece have not turned up, I am a little surprised that unauthorized reproductions (you know—bootlegs) haven’t found their way onto the collectors market.
Hah—somebody beat me to it and is selling reproductions (stains and all) on Etsy. If you want one, click here.
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)