Elvis Presley’s first Las Vegas contract is scheduled for auction later this month in the UK.
The contract is for a two-week engagement in late April and Early May 1956 at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino. It calls for a weekly pay of $7,500, minus commissions paid to his agents at William Morris.
The 21-year-old Elvis signed the document on two lines agreeing to the terms on April 16, 1956.
Auction house Henry Aldridge & Son will take bids on the contract on June 16. The piece of memorabilia has received a certificate of authenticity from the Elvis Presley Museum and has a pre-sale estimate, and a rather specific one at that, of $33,476 to $40,171.
Elvis on the Cheap
Terms of the contract reached between New Frontier and Elvis called for him to perform a staggering 30 times during the two-week period. That’s less than $500 per show when his commission to William Morris is factored in.
The contract also provided him with a one-bedroom suite and standard guestroom at the Strip resort, which was closed and demolished in 2007.
This was still the early part of 1956 and Presley was on the verge of greatness. Up until now, Elvis had performed in front of screaming teenagers, but things would be different in Las Vegas,” the Elvis Presley Museum explains in the item description.
The auction lot details, “Compared to the usual teenage hysteria, however, Elvis had a lukewarm acceptance from the middle-aged audience.”
Lukewarm at best. In fact, one critic at Newsweek wrote that Presley’s performance was “like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party.”
Presley in Sin City
After a less-than-stellar 1956 stint, the King returned to Las Vegas with much greater fame in the summer of 1963 to film Viva Las Vegas, which was largely shot at the Flamingo.
Elvis married Priscilla Anne Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel (now Planet Hollywood) in Las Vegas in 1967.
In 1969, Kirk Kerkorian, the founder of the “mega-resort” concept, and later, MGM Resorts, opened the International Hotel (today the Westgate). He hired Elvis to a residency where the King sold out 58 consecutive shows. Elvis was reportedly paid $100,000 per week.
Hasn’t Left the City
Elvis died from a heart attack in 1977 at the age of 42. But his memory is alive and well in Las Vegas.
Walk down the Strip at any hour of the day and you’ll almost certainly come across an Elvis impersonator.
Between 2010 and 2012, Cirque du Soleil ran an Elvis Presley performance spectacle. And “Elvis” is still on stage at the Flamingo’s Legends in Concert, and Planet Hollywood’s All Shook Up.
Not all Elvis tributes have been successful. “The Elvis Experience,” a live stage show, closed abruptly at the Westgate just a month after its May 2015 opening due to poor attendance. An accompanying museum featuring Elvis memorabilia loaned to the casino by his estate, was also shuttered.