On this historic day, November 15, 1956, Elvis made his big-screen debut in “Love Me Tender.”

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On this historic day, November 15, 1956, Elvis made his big-screen debut in
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Elvis Presley, the king of rock ‘n’ roll, capped off the most extraordinary year in pop culture history with the release of his first movie on this day in history, November 15, 1956.

‘Love Me Tender’ – and Elvis the actor – garnered only lukewarm reviews. But the film helped transform the groundbreaking recording star into a multimedia icon who is still loved around the world to this day, 45 years after his death at 42.

“Rating Presley as an actor is not,” Variety magazine wrote of the film at the time.

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“Not that it makes much of a difference. There are four songs, and a lot of Presley wiggles thrown in for good measure.”

“Love Me Tender” debuted to great fanfare at the Paramount Theater in New York’s Times Square.

Photo of Elvis Presley during the filming of “Love Me Tender” in Los Angeles.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Presley, who was just 21 at the time, played Clint Reno, a man caught up in a love triangle with his Confederate veteran brother in the Civil War-era western.

Elvis would go on to star in 30 more feature films.

“For a number of years, he was one of Hollywood’s top box office performers and one of its highest-paid actors,” explains the website for Graceland, Presley’s home in Memphis.

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“Elvis’ first film, released in 1956, was followed by his two most critically acclaimed films, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ (1957) and ‘King Creole’ (1958), which became classics of their time. .”

Presley exploded onto the American and then global pop culture scene in 1956 in a meteoric rise experienced by no other artist before or since.

“Rating Presley as an actor, he’s not.” — Variety magazine

He released five incredible songs to top the Billboard pop charts that year, with “Heartbreak Hotel”, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Hound Dog” and the title of the film tune “Love Me Tender”.

Elvis spent almost half of 1956 – 25 weeks – with a Billboard No. 1 song.

1668497933 143 On This Historic Day November 15 1956 Elvis Made His

Paramount Theater photo advertising the Elvis Presley film ‘Love Me Tender’.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In an extraordinarily rare example of crossover appeal, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” also topped the country and R&B charts.

Elvis placed 12 more songs on the Billboard 100 that year, while performing 143 concerts in 79 cities, according to fan site Elvis History Blog.

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Elvis, one of history’s few stars known only by his first name, also dazzled on the nation’s biggest TV shows for the first time that same year.

“Elvis spent almost half of 1956 – 25 weeks – with a Billboard No. 1 song.”

“In 1956, Elvis Presley made his television debut with six appearances on ‘Stage Show’, two appearances on ‘The Milton Berle Show’, one on ‘The Steve Allen Show’, in which he sang one of his newly recorded songs (‘Hound Dog’) and performed in a comedy sketch before making two guest appearances on Allen contestant ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’,” reports Graceland.

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But radio and recording are where the Elvis star has shined brightest.

He had released a handful of minor hits in the previous two years, “It’s OK, Mom”, notably in 1954.

He burst onto the national scene with his self-titled rock ‘n’ roll debut studio album “Elvis Presley” in March 1956.

1668497933 557 On This Historic Day November 15 1956 Elvis Made His

“Love Me Tender” poster featuring Elvis Presley as well as Richard Egan and Debra Paget, 1956.
(Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

It “became the first rock and roll album to reach number one on national record sales and RCA’s first pop album to earn a million dollars,” writes the National Museum of American History.

In 1956, Elvis transformed rock ‘n’ roll from an underground form of music, performed largely by black artists, into a major pop culture phenomenon around the world.

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Film review site Rotten Tomatoes states in its biography of Presley: “His success and his magnetism inspired a host of future musicians, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon and others, to take their first steps towards a career in the rock and roll.”

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