I am, of course, talking about Ed Sullivan.Embed from Getty Images
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?