Andy Griffith and Elvis Presley did a cowboy comedy skit together in 1956
But first, Elvis had to sing to a dog.
Image: The Everett Collection
When Elvis Presley shook his hips and shimmied his knees on The Ed Sullivan Show, the whole of pop culture quaked. The King appeared on Sullivan three times between September 1956 and January 1957. The image of Elvis strumming his guitar and standing on the points of his white shoes is burned into our memories.
And it's a good thing, too. Because that was not his first time on television. No, in the summer of '56, Elvis appeared on The Steve Allen Show. Host and comedian Steve Allen was a jazz head, and didn't think much of these new-fangled rock 'n' roll sounds. So he dressed Elvis in a tux and made him sing "Hound Dog" to a Basset hound. It was rather humiliating. Fortunately, the Sullivan performances overshadowed if not erased that kooky performance in the public's consciousness.
Elvis took part in another skit and performance in that episode, one that would pair him with a television legend. Well, he wasn't a legend quite yet.
At the time, Andy Griffith was best known as a comedian of the stage. The North Carolina native was starring in the Broadway show No Time for Sergeants, which would earn him a Tony nomination. Griffith had also scored an unlikely pop hit with "What It Was, Was Football," a spoken-word record that reached No. 9 on the charts in 1954.
So, it was a monologuist and Broadway star that Griffith appeared on The Steve Allen Show. Allen, in an attempt to poke fun at country and western music, another genre he did not think much of, cast Andy and Elvis in a skit called "Range Roundup." Imogene Coca and Allen himself completed the ensemble. The sketch poked fun at country shows such as Ozark Jubilee.
In the bit, Allen introduces his pals "Rattlesnake Griffith" and "Tumbleweed Presley." Griffith proudly declares himself, "The dumbest cowboy you ever seen!" Elvis reveals the secrets to his trick riding: "I don't use no horse."
Andy and Elvis proceed to promote the sponsor of "Range Roundup," Tonto Bars, a candy bar that "comes out of the Old West and right into your old mouth." Elvis boats, "Dentists recommend Tonto Bars, because tests prove that Tonto Bars cause more cavities than any other candy bar."
That's the funniest moment of the skit, for sure. But what really tickles us is the idea that Andy and Elvis performed comedy together on television. Now that's a classic.
Watch it on YouTube.