Ed Sullivan Biography

Host Ed Sullivan showcased talent on The Ed Sullivan Show, one of America's most popular television shows from 1948 until 1971. A newspaper reporter and columnist in New York during the 1920s, Sullivan launched a radio talent show in 1932 that went national on CBS radio in 1942. He began the TV version, Toast of the Town, in the summer of 1948; the show's title was officially changed to The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. Sullivan was stone-faced and awkward on camera, and his peculiar diction was frequently parodied (comedians imitated his introduction to each Sunday's "rilly big shew" -- really big show). Yet his show remained popular for more than two decades, in large part because he provided a wide range of entertainment that included comedy, opera, ballet, pop music, dramatic readings and live animals. Many stars made their first TV appearance on Sullivan, including Humphrey Bogart, Bob Hope, Lena Horne and The Beatles. As Sullivan's audience grew older and popular tastes changed, his show lost its dominance and the show ended in 1971.

Extra credit:

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the featured guests on Sullivan's debut show in 1948... Elvis Presley's 1956 appearances, which Sullivan reluctantly agreed to, became the stuff of legend -- Presley's gyrating hips were too controversial for a family program and were conspicuously avoided by the camera... A regular feature on Sullivan's show was a bit by Topo Gigio, an Italian mouse puppet... CBS changed the name of his broadcast studio in New York in 1967 to The Ed Sullivan Theater; since 1993 it's been the studio used for the Late Show with David Letterman variety program.

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Photo of Sam Walton, as a dark-haired teen, in a suit with hair slicked back