Prior to Motown, The Ed Sullivan Show had already featured African-American artists such as Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald on its show – something few television series in the late 1940’s and 1950’s had done. Ed Sullivan was considered a huge jazz and blues supporter. One of his personal favorites was Ella Fitzgerald who was known as “The First Lady of Song.”
Well known for her purity of tone, vocal range and impeccable diction, Ella Fitzgerald first appeared on the show when it was called “Toast of the Town.” Fitzgerald was brought on as a guest on the 5th episode of the show in 1948.
On March 24th, 1957, Fitzgerald came back to the show, which by that point had changed its name to “The Ed Sullivan Show.” She sang the captivating jazz hit “Hotta Chocolatta.” Following her performance, Ed Sullivan came on stage and told her that Bing Crosby was a big fan and that his favorite song of hers was “Lady Be Good.” This led to Fitzgerald performing that song and charming the audience.
This marked the beginning of seven additional appearances the charismatic jazz singer would make on The Ed Sullivan Show. The last of her 8 appearances on the show was on November 23rd, 1969. That same night The Rolling Stones also made their final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This performance is one of the show’s most historic and is included on the “6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones” DVD.