March 8, 1958. This press print of United Press Association shows the famous rock and roll star Elvis Presley at a charity campaign organized by ‘March of Dimes’, that had been committed at that time to the fight against polio. Presley lifts up the eight year old Mary Kosloski who was the ‘National Polio Poster Girl’ in 1955.
Today’s read is from POLITICO: Here’s an excerpt:
As the star of the year—Elvis Presley—prepared for his breathlessly anticipated appearance on the highest-rated variety show of 1956, the United States was in the throes of a medical crisis. The Salk polio vaccine had been available for just over a year, creating hope for eradicating a virus that had haunted communities for decades. Despite scant government safety oversight, the vaccine had been embraced by much of the public as a long-awaited salvation. But one early batch of bad shots had sickened, paralyzed and killed children.
Those shots were recalled, the drugmaker expelled from the polio program. Vaccinations resumed, but some people remained hesitant. Teenagers, especially, balked at getting inoculated, because of a mistaken belief that immunization for a disease also known as Infantile paralysis was only for little kids and babies.
The March of Dimes—an extraordinarily high-profile organization at the time, closely identified with the long war on polio—sought someone who could rev up immunization, giving it a jolt of attention and excitement, the perfect marriage of science and pizzazz.
So on Oct. 28, 1956, backstage at “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the 21-year-old Elvis Presley—the smooth-faced, pouting, swivel-hipped hero of American youth—extended his left arm. In went the needle. Off went the flashbulbs. A polio star was born.