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Finally, the Full Story Behind “Elvis Has Left the Building”

Elvis has left the building! Show’s over! Nothing to see here – go home!

You’re all familiar with the infamous colloquialism, but do you know its origins? Did you know that it was first used to encourage patrons to stay in their seats, rather than leave? Thanks to the digging of informative web series, Today I Found Out, we now know the full story.

Back in 1954, Elvis was under contract with the then-famous radio show “Louisiana Hayride” to sing songs on-air for a whopping $18 a week ($156 today). Fast-forward a couple years and by now Elvis has starred in films and shaken his godforsaken hips on the Ed Sullivan Show (by comparison, that single television appearance netted 50 grand—$429,000 today). He didn’t need the radio gig anymore.

Elvis sought to buy out the Hayride contract; the financials of the deal aren’t fully known, but we do know that they included a stipulation of one final, Hayride-affiliated performance. At the end of that December 15, 1956 performance, when it was clear that Elvis wasn’t returning to stage for an encore, announcer Horace “Hoss” Logan took the stage and said:

“All right, all right, Elvis has left the building. I’ve told you absolutely straight up to this point. You know that. He has left the building. He left the stage and went out the back with the policeman and he is now gone… Please take your seats.”

The phrase is often credited to announcer Al Dvorin, who later used to phrase to signify the end of Presley’s concerts. And it didn’t become a mainstream expression until 1972, when the live record Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden included an end theme track of Dvorin uttering the phrase.

So there you have it. Check out the video above for the full tale, and be sure to check out the Kevin Spacey/Michael Shannon film, Elvis & Nixon, when it hits theaters on April 22. But then you can leave because there’s no encore. Elvis has left the building.

Image Credit: Uncredited/Public Domain

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