News Item

'68 Special Wins As Featured Timeline Event for February

February 04, 2010

The winning Elvis timeline milestone for February that Elvis fans voted as their number one favorite Elvis moment is # 41 – Elvis Airs on NBC and Becomes One of the Biggest Television Events of the Year.

Much like with the January's Timeline winner, Aloha from Hawaii, Elvis made television and entertainment history with his 1968 television special, taped live at NBC's Burbank studios on June 27, 1968.

The television special, in its infancy, was originally intended to be a Christmas special, featuring Elvis singing mostly Christmas songs. NBC hired Steve Binder to direct and co-produce the television special because they wanted someone young, to whom Elvis could relate. Binder ended up morphing the show into the format it is famous for today and taking the song lineup away from being exclusively focused on Christmas. Inspired by Elvis' impromptu and informal sing-alongs and rehearsals in the dressing room, Binder translated that to the stage with the "jam session" portion of the show, surrounded by the audience instead of in front of it. You can read a Q&A session that Steve Binder did for the Elvis Insiders here.

This extravagant entertainment special features Elvis in some of his greatest and best-loved moments captured on video. Elvis in black leather and the giant red "Elvis" letters are just a few of the iconic images that come from this program.

Many experts claim that the '68 Special reignited Elvis' passion for live performances and was just the boost his career needed after a decline in the film box office and a significant amount of time since his last live tour. 

Click here to see a full gallery of photos from the stage and behind the scenes of the '68 Special.

Five new rare '68 Special photos have been added to the Elvis Mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch users. Download the free app to enjoy weekly Elvis photo updates, periodic video updates, the latest news on all things Elvis, the Graceland LiveCam, podcasts and more.

Each week in February, Elvis Insiders will have access to a new '68 Special-related artifact from the Graceland archives in the members only exclusive image gallery on This week's artifact features a letter from publicist Hank Rieger to producer Bob Finkel, regarding Elvis' June 25, 1968 press conference.

Learn more about the '68 Special on


Facts about '68 Special television performance:

- The special, directed by Steve Binder and co-produced by Binder and Bones Howe, was the first one-man television special to appear on commercial American television.

- Although the broadcast did not air until December 3, 1968, it was taped in front of a live audience, in four separate one-hour segments, on June 27, 1968.

- Sponsored by The Singer Company, the show debuted on the NBC television network on December 3, 1968, and was seen by 42% of the viewing audience, making it the highest-rated television special of the year.

- Considered ground-breaking at the time, this special still has a contemporary feel and Elvis' informal jam session, "in the round," in front of a small audience is regarded as a forerunner of the "unplugged" concept, later popularized by MTV.

- The album from the special sold more than 500,000 in its original chart run, and "If I Can Dream," released a month before the special, sold more than 800,000 units in its initial release.

- The '68 Special was also the venue of Elvis' iconic performance of "If I Can Dream," which was used in 2007 as part of American Idol's Idol Gives Back television special. State-of-the-art computer technology, along with the help of a little screen magic, brought Elvis and Celine Dion together for a duet of the song, which then became the #1 downloaded video on iTunes for three straight weeks.

About the Elvis Timeline:
In celebration of Elvis' 75th birthday, fans are enjoying the 75 Years of Elvis Virtual Timeline. The timeline features lots of photos, video, editorial, music and more and allows fans to walk-thru Elvis’ greatest accomplishments in both his personal life and his career – spanning from January 8, 1935 to January 8, 2010.

As part of the timeline, fans are invited each month to vote for their favorite Elvis milestone in his career, with the top winner being announced each month. By the end of 2010, fans will have selected their top 12 favorite milestones in Elvis' career.
Don't forget to visit as voting is going on right now for March's top favorite milestone moment.