Ed Sullivan was a show business columnist for the New York Daily News who is better known for his 1948 television series Toast of the Town. The name was changed to The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955.
Sullivan hosted the show for 24 seasons encompassing 1024 episodes that were shown on Sunday nights.
Although Sullivan was nothing more than a presenter since he had no talent other than being the host of the show.
However he became known as a starmaker and an appearance on his show could skyrocket a performer to stardom.
Elvis Presley and the Beatles appeared on the show early in their careers to the shrieks and screams of female fans.
At first Sullivan balked at signing Presley for his show but due to Presley’s appearance on Steve Allen show which clobbered Sullivan’s show in the ratings he decided to sign Presley.
Elvis singing Hound Dog on the Ed Sullivan show after saying he was going to sing a very sad song.
When Presley first appeared on the show Sullivan was not present since he was recovering from an auto accident. Actor Charles Laughton filled in for Sullivan for that Presley appearance.
Presley would make two more appearances on the show and Sullivan called Colonel Tom Parker many years later but when Parker had a long list of instructions and demands if Elvis were to appear Sullivan decided not to sign Elvis again.
Sullivan was at Heathrow Airport in London in late 1963 when the Beatles were mobbed by fans. He told his traveling entourage that this was like it was when Elvis first hit the scene.
The manager of the Beatles Brian Epstein was offered good money by Sullivan to appear on a single show. Instead Epstein requested they appear on three shows for less money but that his clients would receive top billing so they would get more exposure.
The Beatles singing some of their hit songs on Ed Sullivan show.
The Beatles surprising sang Till There Was You a ballad from the Music Man written by Meredith Willson. It was a great song but not what you would expect from the hottest musical group on the world who by then had several hit songs of their own.
However before the appearances of Elvis and the Beatles singer Bill Haley had sang Rock Around the Clock and is believed to the first singer to sing a rock and roll song on a American television program.
Bo Diddley was told to sing Sixteen Tons but instead chose to sing his self named hit Bo Diddley. Sullivan was furious at Diddley and told him he was the first black boy to double cross him. He told Diddley he would never appear on another show in his life.
Comedian Jackie Mason made an obscene gesture toward Sullivan once when Sullivan was trying to get him to wrap up his act so President Lyndon Johnson could make a speech.
Sullivan was visibly upset by the action of Mason and they argued with Sullivan firing him on the spot.
Another time Sullivan was angered when Buddy Holly refused to change songs and cut his act to one song and turned off the sound to Holly’s electric guitar so when it was time for his guitar solo Holly was quick to say the problem had nothing to do with him.
Sullivan would often introduce celebrities who happened to be in the audience the night of the shows.
He died on October 13, 1974 of esophageal cancer.
Sullivan had gone from being a boxer in his youth to a newspaper columnist to a TV host with no talent but still had the power to make or break a star.