How Priscilla Presley Reacted When Elvis Presley Caused Colonel Tom Parker to Cry

Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, once cried during the aftermath of one of the singer’s live shows. Interestingly, the show was an extremely important part of his career. Here’s how Priscilla Presley reacted to Parker’s tears — and how the performance helped her husband earn an incredible salary.

Elvis Presley with nothing in the background
Elvis Presley | RB/Redferns

How the audience reacted to one of Elvis Presley’s most notable performances

According to Time, the “Heartbreak Hotel” singer stopped performing live at one point. He had become “increasing irrelevant” in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. But in 1968, with his NBC TV special, Elvis garnered attention once again. Then in 1969, he returned to the stage in Las Vegas at the newly opened International Hotel. This performance had the potential to renew or destroy his career.

According Richard Zoglin’s book, Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show, the showroom was much larger than any other showroom in Las Vegas and it could accommodate 2,000 people. Critics and celebrities were present in the showroom. Behind the scenes, Elvis was incredibly nervous. The King had never been as nervous as he was on the opening night of his Las Vegas return show.

Despite the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer’s nerves, the audience loved his performance. Elvis walked out on stage wearing a costumed karate outfit and singing songs including “Blue Suede Shoes” to an audience that “erupted.” The reaction from the crowd was “’frenzied” and continued throughout the set.

“Blue Suede Shoes”

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How Priscilla Presley reacted when Colonel Tom Parker cried in front of Elvis

In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla Presley states she was “astounded” by Elvis’ performance. The crowds cheered and begged for more at the end of the night. Many stars in the audience went backstage to congratulate the singer.

Priscilla wasn’t as impressed by the stars as she was by Parker. “The most touching moment was when Colonel Parker arrived with tears in his eyes, wanting to know where his boy was,” she wrote. “Elvis came out of the dressing room and the two men embraced. I believe everyone felt their emotion in that moment.”

Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker with a typewriter
Elvis Presley with Colonel Tom Parker | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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The impact of Elvis’ performance on his finances and Las Vegas as a whole

Priscilla states the International was very pleased with the set and its box-office receipts. She writes “the following day they signed a five-year contract with the Colonel for Elvis to appear twice a year, usually around the same time, January and August, at the then unheard-of salary of $1 million a year.”

Elvis would go on from that first night to perform over 600 times to sell-out crowds in Las Vegas. Beyond his comeback performance at the International, he had a massive impact on entertainment in Las Vegas. The “Hound Dog” singer’s performance at the International is legendary — even if he was initially nervous about singing there.

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