Elvis Presley set an example for music television specials in 1968, when he sat down for a live studio audience to play his favorite Christmas song.
At the time, no one could have guessed how loved this particular show would be, nor that other networks would work to emulate it for decades to come. In fact, the show’s success was a sort of fluke. It was a television first, yet became one that even MTV has worked to copy through its series called, “MTV Unplugged.” The Elvis special was originally conceived to help re-establish him among his existing following and to introduce him to a younger fan base. It was December 1968 when the King’s show aired. The program had a large sponsored budget and featured short film snippets, photos and stories about Elvis’ life and career.
He performed gospel songs and classics from his collection. Despite its budget, the program featured Elvis in a small setting with fans in close proximity. The intimate stage and resulting performances were magnetically warm and engaging. As video from the hit show indicates, female fans were particularly pleased that they were able to interact with Elvis and be so close to him as he sang songs. His performance of “Blue Christmas” was loved by his adoring fans who screamed with glee both when he announced it as his own favorite, and throughout his singing.
These moments prove magical for both Elvis and television, as no one has been able to reproduce the success of this long-aired TV special.