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40 years ago this week: politics and presley

December 04, 2008

40 years ago this week: politics and presley

In the week of November 30 through December 6, 1968, an important political appointment and a career-comeback for the King of Rock filled the news.

On December 2, 1968, President Nixon named Henry Kissinger the Security Advisor of the United States. As National Security Advisor under Nixon, Kissinger sought to relax tensions between the US and the Soviet Union, adopting a foreign policy of détente. He initiated the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks in an effort to limit the costly development of missiles. This appointment was Kissinger’s first position in the Executive Office, preceding his years of service as Secretary of State under Nixon and, later, under Gerald Ford. In time, Henry Kissinger would become one of the most important foreign policy experts of our country.

The following day, on December 3, 1968, Elvis Presley made an unforgettable comeback in a TV special entitled, appropriately, Elvis. In 1960, Elvis left his career at its high point to join the army. By 1968, Elvis’s career had taken a downturn due to his appearance in handfuls of cheesy films with mediocre soundtracks. It was time to resuscitate his career.

Elvis’s manager originally wanted the special to feature the iconic singer wearing a powder blue suit singing Christmas songs. Segment producer Steve Binder, however, shot down this idea in favor of Elvis singing his classic hits in a black leather outfit. After many creative discussions, NBC decided that the special would include live musical numbers, a mini-movie based on the song Guitar Man and re-recordings set against dramatic backdrops and scenery. The show was the highest-rated television special of the year, once again establishing Elvis as the King of Rock.

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