The Ed Sullivan Show
Ed Sullivan was an unlikely television star with a stiff stage
presence, an interesting way of slurring his words, and a lack-luster on screen
personality yet he somehow found his way into American’s hearts and homes. Ed Sullivan was born on September 28,
For his first show, Sullivan had a wide variety of guests including Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Rodgers and Hammerstein, a piano player, a ballerina, a troupe of crooning firefighters, and a boxing referee. This was only an indication of what was to come. Ed Sullivan had a variety show planned that had something for everyone and was a marriage between vaudeville and television.
From the beginning Sullivan was a huge part in every aspect of the show deciding who would be on the show, booked acts, decided in rehearsal how many minutes each act would perform, and even served as executive editor of the show. He exposed the American culture to everything the culture had to offer in art and entertainment.
The Ed Sullivan show was filled with variety from novelty acts such as a plate spinner, chimps on motorcycles, and a dancing bear to comedians to sport heroes to opera and Shakespearean actors. Another large aspect of the show was music, such acts like Elvis, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and probably the most celebrated The Beatles.
The Beatles appearance on February 9, 1964 was a defining moment for
American popular entertainment. It
was their first appearance on television in the United States-73 million viewers
tuned into watch their American debut.
Their debut had such an impact that most normal activities in America
came to a standstill- getting a taxi or a bus in New York City proved to be
almost impossible and even criminal activity in America was temporarily on
hold. Beatlemania made its presence
Elvis’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan show boosted his popularity and
the pandemonium that surrounded him.
On his third and final appearance, Ed only allowed Elvis to be filmed
from his waist up alleging Elvis’s hip gyrations and dance moves were drenched
in sexual innuendo. This was a
definite force behind the sexual revolution that would sweep across
Another group that made one and only performance before being banned from the Ed Sullivan show was The Doors. The agreement between the band and producers was that the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” from “Light my Fire” would not be sung on air. The band agreed but then went on to sing the line, which led to their banishment.
Sullivan had a keen understanding of what the mass audience, especially
teenagers, wanted to see and his show defined television and popular culture of
the time. His show reflected what
was going in
Sullivan had his finger on the pulse of what was hot and intriguing and had an undeniable way of picking talent. He became a talent scout and cultural liaison for the entire country, introducing more than 10,000 performers throughout his career. The Ed Sullivan Show launched careers like the Beatles – boosted careers such as Elvis, and could destroy one’s career ambitions. It could be the realization or the dissolution of one’s dreams.
Even though his show defined an era of television and was the epitome of a variety show his critics were always close at hand. He was criticized mainly for his demeanor onscreen- stiff and awkward. Critics called him “the great stone face,” “rock of ages,” and “Mr. Rigor Mortis” mocking his wooden appearance. At first Sullivan took the critics words to heart and wrote newspaper writers who mocked him. Then he started to use his flaws as assets. He encouraged performers to imitate him, people in the crowd to heckle him and outright insult him.
The Ed Sullivan Show had a huge impact on television during its time that
can still be felt today. The show
had a huge impact on careers and it reflected and created American popular
culture of it’s time. Until June 6,
1971 when it went off air due to the waging war in
The Ed Sullivan Show
Music-Ray Bloch and His Orchestra
Dance-The June Taylor Dancers
Producers-Ed Sullivan, Marlo Lewis, and Bob Precht
History: The show aired on CBS from
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