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Col. Tom Parker’s BEST Decision
Paul Kyriazi - Feature Film Director Paul Kyriazi - Feature Film Director
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, August 28, 2022


March 23, 1956 – Elvis Presley’s first record album hits #1 on the Billboard charts and stays there for 10 weeks.

April 3, 1956 – Elvis makes the first of two appearances on the Milton Berle show getting 50,000 hate letters.

July 1, 1956 – On the Steve Allen Show, Elvis sings Hound Dog to a hound dog and for the first time, beats The Ed Sullivan Show’s ratings.

September 9, 1956 – After swearing that he will never book Elvis on his show, Ed Sullivan pays Elvis $50,000 ($544,625 today) for three appearances. 60 million viewers watch him; 82 percent of the USA viewing audience. This one event, more than any other, makes Elvis a national celebrity.

On the show he sings Love Me Tender before the record is released. The over a million advance record orders shatters all records.

But no, the Sullivan Show was NOT Tom Parker’s best decision.

March 26, 1956 – Elvis does screen tests for three days at Paramount Studios. He lip-syncs Blue Sued Shoes and performs two scenes from The Rainmaker. An unknown George Chakiris wanders in and sees the filming.

Elvis is offered the 3rd lead in The Rainmaker to star Burt Lancaster and Katherine Hepburn. A big, color production. Bang! Success!

Elvis is excited. Any agent or manager would have instantly grabbed it.

However, Tom Parker turns it down. His best decision. Earl Holliman takes the part.

Parker signs up Elvis for the third lead in the smaller black and white civil war drama The Reno Brothers. It stars lesser weight actors Richard Egan and Debra Paget. Elvis is paid $100,000. ($1,089,250 today) and gets an Introducing Elvis Presley credit.

With the recording of the song Love Me Tender a massive hit, the movie’s title is changed to that. Four songs are added to the movie.

Elvis doesn’t want to do it “because my character dies in it.” But his girlfriend, June Juanico tells him, “Audiences remember tragic heroes.”

Tom Parkers reasoning was, though he is 3rd billed, with the title change, songs added, and having the pivotal role of being married to his brother’s girlfriend when the brother is thought dead, Elvis would be seen at the star of the movie. That wouldn’t have been the case with the dynamic big star Burt Lancaster in the lead.

The studio released a record-breaking 575 prints, instead of the usual 200 – 300.

The movie, budgeted at 1.2 million, grossed $540,000 in its first week making it #2 at the box office. (Giant was #1).

The Los Angeles Times wrote: “Elvis can act. S’help me the boy’s real good, even when he isn’t singing.”

Elvis said: “My dream was to get into the movies, and then I spent my first two days behind a mule and plow.”

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Name: Paul Kyriazi
Group: Feature Film Director
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA United States
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