Sullivan #atozchallenge

Sullivan

I am, of course, talking about Ed Sullivan.

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Ed was a sports and entertainment reporter for the New York Daily News and was syndicated through The Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate (now Tribune Media Services) who wrote a column called “Toast Of The Town.” In 1948, when TV was in its infancy, he was asked to do a show named after his column, which eventually became The Ed Sullivan Show. The show ran for 23 years and TV critic David Hinckley called it “The last great television show.”

Mary and I have been watching The Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show on Decades every evening (as always, check local listings). Granted, it’s been over 40 years since the last show aired, but we had forgotten just how diverse a show it was. If it was entertainment, Ed had it on his show. No kidding. Musical acts, comedians, circus acts, animal acts, ballet, cast members from Broadway shows, you name it, it was on the show. A lot of comedians got their start on The Ed Sullivan Show, including George Carlin, who included this on his FM & AM album.

Ed gave Elvis Presley his first national exposure. This is from Elvis’ third appearance on the show, and Ed has some very nice words to say about him at the end of this clip.

On February 9, 1964, Ed brought Beatlemania to the US. They were on the next three shows, the last by videotape. I think this is from their first. Sorry it cuts off mid-song.

As well as the bands from the British Invasion, Ed was one of the major promoters of African American talent. Sammy Davis Jr. was a frequent guest, as were Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole. Just in the last week, I’ve seen The Supremes, The Fifth Dimension, Lou Rawls, and Richard Pryor. There wasn’t a prominent Black performer that didn’t appear on Ed’s show, acccording to one TV writer. He took a lot of heat from sponsors for that, but he held firm and treated everyone who appeared on his show with respect.

Ed Sullivan’s show was where many of us encountered acts we wouldn’t see otherwise. And, as George Carlin said, we never got to thank him. Well, thanks, Ed! Those who grew up watching your show thank you for introducing us to a diverse and rich world of entertainment.

Do you have any memories of Ed Sullivan?

23 thoughts on “Sullivan #atozchallenge

  1. After seeing Elvis on Ed Sullivan my grandma joined his fan club. Elvisโ€™ not Edโ€™s ๐Ÿ˜‚. My mom for some reason was embarrassed by this.

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    1. Elvis, once you get past the hip-shaking (which, in retrospect, was tame) and the curled lip (which was just the way he looked) was a good Southern boy: polite, well-mannered, loved God and his mama. He had a hell of a voice and was larger than life, but I think people could see the person behind all that. Ed Sullivan said he was a “fine young boy” and that he was a pleasure to work with.

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      1. Yes I agree. Very polite and his love for his mother was obvious. I think my mom’s objection was grandma not “acting her age”. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Oh wow, plenty of memories with Ed Sullivan. My Mom & Gramma would never miss him or Lawrence Welk. My memory is Ed Sullivan and Topo Gigio he was the cutest ever… Eddddieeee, give to me kiss goodnight!!! Mama & Gramma was glued to the TV when he came on & I remember many of the stars that went on there first from Elvis Presley, The Beatles & the Rolling Stones… plus acrobats and trained animals… ED SULLIVAN WAS THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH!!! I didn’t know all that stuff you posted about his show being called the “Toast of the Town”! Woo Hoo I learned something new… gotta do every day! THANKS JOHN! I had a whole lotta fun here today! hugs and you & yours have a wonderful day!

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  3. I love Ed Sullivan! He was on for so long and yet, now, most young people have no clue who he is. I hope some do because he brought The Beatles to North America plus he had so many other great bands on, never mind Senior Wences. I wish this could be brought back but I love variety shows

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    1. Elvis, too. And right after The Beatles he had The Dave Clark 5 on, and a lot of bands from the British Invasion. Senor Wences was one of the highlights of the show. He was hilarious. “‘Sawright!”

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  4. We always watched the show, and saw so many good acts. I remember some guy spinning some plates on tall sticks, all at the same time. He may have been on more than once, but that is one act I never forgot. I can just about still hear Mr. Sullivan’s voice in my head. We’ve never seen any re-runs of the show.

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    1. The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show is on several times a day on Decades. It’s on at 7 AM, 5 PM and 10PM Eastern, if you wat to watch it. They’re not complete shows, but they’re still good.

      I think there were a bunch of plate-spinners that would perform on his show. We saw one the other night. Trampoline acts, animal acts, you name it.

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  5. I remember that he didn’t want the Doors to sing the part about “getting high” on the show and said if they did they’d never be on again. Jim Morrison didn’t care and sang it anyway. We recently saw the Fab Four (Beatles Tribute band) at the Mountain Winery and they had a character come out first pretending to be Ed Sullivan. He had the characteristics down pretty good. Happy Saturday, John. One more week!

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    1. Ed went up to Morrison after that, furious, and told him “you’ll never appear on the Ed Sullivan show again!” Morrison’s answer was “we’ve already done the Ed Sullivan show.”

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    1. In the mid-60’s it was the highlight of my week, when I could watch it. It was on opposite a few Westerns, which held more appeal for my dad and brothers, and we had one TV. You remember those days…

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