The Ed Sullivan Show was the essential American variety show back in the day. It was a long-running and ground-breaking that appealed to almost all ages. Whether it was Broadway for the parents, rock ‘n’ roll for the teenagers or puppet acts for the kids, the show had something for everyone.
The Ed Sullivan Show aired from 1948 until 1971 and changed the layout of American television. His stage was home to iconic performances by big artists from rock ‘n’ roll, comedy, novelty, pop music, politics, sports, opera and more. He was considered as a starmaker and performers wanted an appearance on his program as a guarantee of stardom, although it’s not always the case.
In 2002, The Ed Sullivan Show was ranked #15 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and in 2013, the series finished No. 31 in TV Guide Magazine’s 60 Best Series of All Time. Here are some other Unbelievable Facts About The Ed Sullivan Show.
12. Not Your Typical Host
His awkwardness made him endearing to the audiences. There was just something unique about an awkward host, and instead of looking way, people just couldn’t resist this charm. Off camera, Sullivan was a brilliant tracker and arranger of talent. A variety show always has variety, but nothing was as diverse as the mishmash that Sullivan put together, from puppet shows to opera, the show had it all. Who could resist that?
11. A Rough Start Gave Way to a Huge Hit, Largely Thanks to Elvis
The critics were tough on Sullivan, they attacked him for his poor hosting style and the random tone of his guest collections. But the show did well anyway. In 1955, its name changed to The Ed Sullivan Show and it broke all of TVs single night rating counts when a young Elvis Presley performed on Sullivan’s stage. Elvis made three appearances on the show throughout 1956 and 1957.
Many stars were born on The Ed Sullivan show including, historic rock ‘n’ roll performances by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones and The Doors. Also acts by The Jackson 5, Supremes and Temptations. Hilarious stand-up comedy acts and unforgettable Broadway performances by the stars of musicals like My Fair Lady and West Side Story. This list goes on and on.
10. Many Stars Debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show
A few of the people who made their American TV debuts on Sullivan’s show includes, Bob Hope, Lena Horne, Martin and Lewis, Dinah Shore, Albert Schweitzer, Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, Eddie Fisher, and most famously, The Beatles.
Ed Sullivan was known for years as the “king maker” for his ability to predict the stars of the future. For over four decades, landing a spot on his show was considered taking the first step on the surefire path to stardom.
9. Even The Muppets Got Some of the Spotlight
Between 1966 and 1971, Jim Henson performed some of his Muppet characters on the show. Henson’s Muppets were introduced on The Ed Sullivan Show and Sullivan introduced the characters as “Jim, uh … Newsom’s puppets.”
The act featured a small ball of fur growing into the Rock and Roll Monster (performed by Jim Henson, Jerry Nelson, and Frank Oz) with three heads and six arms lip-syncing to the song “Rock It to Me” by The Bruthers. The Muppets then made 25 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.