Recorded in late June in ‘Burbank’, ‘California’, the special, called simply ‘Elvis’, aired on December 3, 1968. Later known as the ’68 Comeback Special’, the show featured lavishly staged studio productions as well as songs performed with a band in front of a small audience — ‘Presley’ first live performances since (1961).
The live segments saw ‘Presley’ clad in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock-and-roll days. ‘Bill Belew’, who designed this outfit, gave it a ‘Napoleonic’ standing collar (Presley customarily wore high collars because he believed his neck looked too long), a design feature that he would later make a major trademark of the outfits ‘Presley’ wore on stage in his later years. Director and coproducer ‘Steve Binder’ had worked hard to reassure the nervous singer and to produce a show that was far from the hour of ‘Christmas’ songs ‘Parker’ had originally planned.
The show, ‘NBC’ highest rated that season, captured 42 percent of the total viewing audience. ‘Jon Landau’ of ‘Eye magazine’ remarked, “There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home. He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect of rock ‘n’ roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension and effort that must have made Jim Morrison green with envy.” Dave Marsh calls the performance one of “emotional grandeur and historical resonance.”
‘Marilyn Monroe’ born in (1926) was an actress, model, and singer, who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the (1950) and early (1960). ‘Monroe’ began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in (1946) with ‘Twentieth Century-Fox’.
‘Norma Jeane’ became one of ‘Blue Book’ most successful models; she appeared on dozens of magazine covers. Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of ‘Ben Lyon’, a ’20th Century Fox’ executive, who arranged a screen test for her. ‘Lyon’ was impressed and commented, “It’s Jean Harlow all over again.” During her first few months at ’20th Century Fox’, ‘Monroe’ had no speaking roles in any films but, alongside other new contract players, took singing, dancing and other classes.
In (1947), ‘Monroe’ had been released from her contract with ’20th Century Fox’. She then met with ‘Hollywood’ pin-up photographer ‘Bruno Bernard’, who photographed her at the ‘Racquet Club of Palm Springs’; and it was at the ‘Racquet Club’ where she met ‘Hollywood’ talent agent ‘Johnny Hyde’. ‘Monroe’ signed in (1948) a six-month contract with ‘Columbia Pictures’ and was introduced to the studio head drama coach ‘Natasha Lytess’, who became her acting coach for several years.
‘Monroe’ faced in March (1952) a possible scandal when two of her nude photos from her (1949) session with photographer ‘Tom Kelley’ were featured on calendars. The press speculated about the identity of the anonymous model and commented that she closely resembled ‘Monroe’. As the studio discussed how to deal with the problem, ‘Monroe’ suggested that she should simply admit that she had posed for the photographs but emphasize that she had done so only because she had no money to pay her rent. She gave an interview in which she discussed the circumstances that led to her posing for the photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling actress.
Of these photographs was published in the first issue of ‘Playboy’ in December (1953), making ‘Marilyn’ the first ‘Playmate’ of the Month. ‘Playboy’ editor ‘Hugh Hefner’ chose what he deemed the “sexiest” image, a previously unused nude study of ‘Marilyn’ stretched with an upraised arm on a red velvet background from (1949). The heavy promotion centered around ‘Marilyn’ nudity on the already famous calendar, together with the tease marketing, made the new ‘Playboy’ magazine a success.