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The Ed Sullivan Show 

Toast of the Town (original title)
The classic prime time variety show most famous for its vaudeville acts and rock music performances.
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24   23   22   21   20   19   … See all »
1971   1970   1969   1968   … See all »
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Music


TV-G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 June 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Ed Sullivan Show  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(1965-1971)| (1948-1965)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Voted #15 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. See more »


[Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby are singing "Road to Morocco", when Frank spots Bob Hope walking down the stairs at the back of the stage]
Frank: Run for the hills.
See more »

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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 the music video for Billy Joel's 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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