The Ed Sullivan Show (1948–1971)
"Toast of the Town" (original title)

TV Series  -   -  Comedy | Music
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The classic prime time variety show most famous for its vaudeville acts and its rock music performances.

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Title: The Ed Sullivan Show (1948–1971)

The Ed Sullivan Show (1948–1971) on IMDb 7.5/10

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24 | 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | See more »

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
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 Himself - Host / ... (1,054 episodes, 1948-1971)
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Storyline

Ed Sullivan's show was straight out of old vaudeville; brief acts of every description, from slapstick comedy to operatic arias. At least once, he showed a film, the only known film of Anna Pavlova (doing her Swan Dance). The Muppets' first TV appearance was on Ed Sullivan. Stiff and expressionless, with a peculiar voice and a talent for mispronunciation, Sullivan was at least as recognizable as Cronkite to early 60's viewers. Written by Molly Malloy <mailcall@intersource.com>

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Comedy | Music

Certificate:

TV-G | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

20 June 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Ed Sullivan Show  »

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(1965-1971)| (1948-1965)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

On Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 the US Postal Service issued a pane of twenty 44¢ commemorative postage stamps honoring early USA television programs. A booklet with 20 picture postal cards was also issued. The stamp honoring "The Ed Sullivan Show" (which began as The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)) has a picture of its star/host, Ed Sullivan. Other shows honored in the Early TV Memories issue were: The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), The Dinah Shore Show (1951), Dragnet (1951), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950), Hopalong Cassidy (1952), The Honeymooners (1955), "The Howdy Doody Show" (original title: The Howdy Doody Show (1947)), I Love Lucy (1951), Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947), Lassie (1954), The Lone Ranger (1949), Perry Mason (1957), The Phil Silvers Show (1955), The Red Skelton Hour (1951), "Texaco Star Theater" (titled The Milton Berle Show (1948), 1954-1956), The Tonight Show (which began as Tonight! (1953)), Twilight Zone (1959), and You Bet Your Life (1950). See more »

Quotes

Bing: You certainly get around.
Bob: I have to, with my kind of act.
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Connections

Featured in A Really Big Show: Ed Sullivan's 50th Anniversary (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Mahna Mahna
Written by Piero Umiliani
Performed by The Muppets
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User Reviews

 
Time Capsule of the Mid 20th Century
13 October 2013 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Ed Sullivan always had brilliant timing. He came along as a gossip columnist and writer for the New York Daily News, as people were starting to tire of Walter Winchell. And he basically chased Winchell from his seat at the top of the newspaper world with his "Little Old New York" columns.

But also, at that same moment, television was in its infancy, and someone had to create programming for people to watch. Sullivan was a smart choice to use as a host, as he was already known by and equally aware of most of the stars of the day. So, he could easily cull performers to appear.

"The Toast of the Town," as the show was first called, eventually to be named after the host, was to be a showcase of the acts that were worthy of attention. And Sullivan, like the maestro he was, orchestrated every episode to provide something for every family member: comics, music, a performance from Broadway, something from Carnegie Hall or the Metropolitan Opera, a novelty performer like a juggler or acrobat, an act that appealed to the kids. It was the very definition of "Variety."

But beyond the performances of the day, Sullivan also frequently brought in politicians, sports figures, news makers who weren't in the entertainment business and did brief softball interviews with them, which made the program not just a variety show, but a record of what was going on in the country at the moment of that episode's airing.

The program was the original "Must See TV" and was popular right from the start, but Sullivan himself was parodied for his stilted delivery and rigid appearance on camera. Being of good humor about it, he frequently booked impressionists who did impersonations of him as a part of their acts. Notably Will Jordan, who appeared on the program, eventually played the role of Sullivan in Billy Joel's video for his song "Tell Her About It."

Ed Sullivan was a true visionary, knowing what acts were on the verge of success and giving them the push to launch them into orbit! The down side was he was very strict about keeping the program "family oriented," and as the rock era began with Elvis Presley and eventually The British Invasion, he often forced musicians of the day to change their lyrics, wardrobe, act so that they didn't offend the sensibilities of "Middle America." And performers frequently, if not begrudgingly, kowtowed to Sullivan because they knew what it meant for their careers: Everyone in the United States would see them perform on the program, a literal "Overnight Success."

Eventually, tastes changed, and Fred Silverman, television programmer extraordinaire, decided that 1971 was the year to end the series. Though Sullivan did return for a few specials after the program's cancellation, the window onto this slice of twenty plus years of the 20th Century remains as a document, an historic record of the time, and notably collections of clips from the program have become treasured for their capturing performances of the superstars of yesterday, from when they were just starting their legendary careers.


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