Home > Newspaper Articles > 1956 > August 3-4, 1956. Miami, FL.

CONCERT DATE: August 3-4, 1956. Miami, FL.

They Rock-n-Riot For Elvis
By Damon Runyon Jr.
Miami News
August 4, 1956

For the second day Elvis Presley, the vaudeville Valentino, rocked along his bumpy road to success hero today after his fanatical followers engaged in a small-scale street riot.

More than 8,800 fans, ranging from agitated adolescents to old ladies fallen from Liberace's grace, were expected to shriek, rattle and roll again at Presley's shake dancing in the Olympia Theater.

Police were braced for the most exuberant exhibition of audience fantods in the afternoon shows, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., which usually are the stoping grounds for the youngest afflicted by Presley.

It was after the first of yesterday's three capacity rock-'n'-riot performances - which fetched a total 7,000 jumping jacks and jills - that about 2,000 almost broke a police line to rush the stage door.

Teeners Block Traffic

The teeming teeners, who turned from a screaming to scheming for a glimpse or grasp at their hero of Heartbreak Hotel, blocked SE 1st Avenue at about 5 p.m. as stable citizens were jammed in rush hour traffic.

The press of numbers strained at a line of seven policemen cutting off the entrance to an alley way leading to the backstage of the Olympia. At first they merely waited tensely.

Then they saw HIM. just a glimpse when he peeked out an upstairs fire scape entrance - but it was enough to release whatever pent-up emotions banded these cases together in a psychistrist's paradise.

Police Overwhelmed

A few giggled under and past the locked arms of police. They thought that THEY might get to HIM triggered the rest. The police line gave way toward the stage door, with only Miami News photographers Don Wright and Charles Trainor and this reporter as rear guard.

The reporter looked for a clean spot to pass out on, but several firemen and theater men reinforced the police line and bulldozed the small riot back to the street. A motorcycle squad led by Sgt. Paul Dixon quickly thinned out the fans strangling street traffic.

Actually, what happened was that Presley - reportedly with two young dolls to comfort him - had been closeted upstairs with Associated Press Photographer Eli Silverberg. The Miami News already had "scooped" every newspaper, wire service and magazine on interviews and photos.

Elvis Didn't Know

Those in Presley's room didn't even know about the frustrated fans filling the street, according to Silverberg, and the idol of the infantile had peered out in al innocence, perhaps to see if anyone was watching.

Generally, police were patient, even in pushing back the crowd, although some teen-agers scuffed and one doll about algebra age was left snuffling from wounded vanity since she'd lost one ballet slipper to the cause.

Another young girl was stricken and near collapse in a room off stagedoor entrance after she suffered loss of an autograph when Presley passed her by as he left the stage. All of the girls screamed as if stabbed at every turn in the show.

Burlesque Dance

These young girls (many less than tee-age) not a few youths, and even a number of elderly deserters from Liberace's ranks, witnessed their "lover boy" as they call him, in the most obscene burlesque dance this reporter has seen in more than 20 years of getting around.

From the theater wings it was possible to see that the 21 year old Presley's ribald routine is not of the emotions, as he's been telling the press around the country - his pelvic performance is clearly contrived.

Also far from fervor of the uncontrolled type are his other million-dollar stage mannerisms - the slack-jawed gibberish, the glassy gape of a hypnotized hillbilly, the unmannered gesture of wiping the nose, the staggering and shaking as if he'd a bad fit.

Watches His Watch

Toward the end of his last 20 minute performance late last night we witnessed from the wings his quick glance at his wristwatch. At the time he was, as far as the screaming audience could see, in the process of a convulsion that a psychiatrist would find interesting.

However, a psychiatrist, like the reporter, probably would be engaged in studying the audience hysteria, which had even Presley grinning from time to time. There's nothing wrong with Presley that a count of his money won't cure. Maybe that's why he grinned.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez