Ed Sullivan: Just Who Was He?
inSeptember 27, 2012 - 9:48am
The Ed Sullivan Show ran on CBS from 1949 until 1971 in the same time slot, Sunday night at 8pm. The original show title was Toast of the Town but in 1955 it was changed to the Ed Sullivan Show. It was a variety show with every type of entertainment including circus acts, singers, dancers, comedians, using the same format as the old vaudeville shows.
Edward Vincent Sullivan was born with his twin brother in Harlem, New York on September 28, 1901 to Irish parents, Elizabeth and Peter Sullivan. He loved sports of all kinds and was known to have been a boxer in his early years. His first career was as a newspaper reporter covering sports which lasted until 1931. At that time he was hired by the New York Daily News to write a regular column called Little Ole New York. In the late 1920's he began hosting radio programs which gave him his first step to being an emcee.
In 1927 he became engaged to champion swimmer Sybil Bauer, from Chicago Illinois. She set 23 world records and also became the first woman to break a man’s record in the backstroke. She competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke. Sadly she died of cancer at age 23, with Sullivan at her bedside.
In 1930 he married Sylvia Weinstein and they remained together until her death in 1973. They had one daughter, Betty. He was a family man but there were rumors about his love of long legged dancers.
In 1948 he was hired by CBS to emcee a variety show, soon to be the Ed Sullivan Show. It got off to a slow start as the audience found him stone-face without a personality. Throughout his career he was always labeled as being without talent having an awkward manner on screen, however his popularity and his show gained momentum until it was labeled a top favorite. A frequent guest on the show was Alan King who said ‘Ed does nothing, but he does it better than anyone else in television.’
In the music explosion era of the 1960's Ed featured most of the popular rock bands such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, etc. This was a first opportunity for the fans to actually see these groups and that only added to the growing audience. At that time there were very few opportunities for African American performers to appear on television. The Sullivan Show changed all that, launching the careers of many performers.
In 1971 without notice CBS cancelled the show for reasons unknown. He continued on contract with CBS but was very angered by the cancellation.
In 1974 he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and he passed away shortly afterward.
Interesting note: The shows debut was June 20, 1948 with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and previewing Rogers and Hammerstein’s score to the new broadway show South Pacific.
Alley Cats Vintage specializes in vintage fashions ranging from the 1930's through the early 1980's. You will find a wide selection of vintage hats, evening wear, day dresses, shoes and purses, also lingerie in all sizes and colors for all shapes.
Written by Christine Moore
Alley Cats Vintage on Ruby Lane