Sunday, June 18th, 2023

CBS Sunday Morning: Celebrating the 75th anniversary of Ed Sullivan’s “Really Big Show”

When he first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956, Elvis Presley had yet to earn the nickname the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” But Ed Sullivan was very much a kingmaker.

Producer-director Andrew Solt, who owns the Ed Sullivan archives, says Sullivan – who could make or break a career – had been reluctant to put Elvis on, at first. Sullivan ended up booking Presley for three shows, giving him a record-breaking $50,000 – and what may have been even more valuable: his blessing. When Presley made his third appearance, on January 6, 1957, Sullivan told his audience, “This is a real decent, fine boy. We wanna say that we’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you.”

Truth is, if you made it on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” there’s a good chance you could make it big anywhere. The show premiered 75 years ago, on June 20, 1948, and for more than two decades it was appointment TV.

Otis Williams said, “Oh yes, yes. Every Sunday at eight o’clock, my house would be quiet. I mean, watching Ed Sullivan. That was a glorious event.”

Williams and his group, The Temptations, were on the show six times.

Watching himself, Williams said, “We look good! Scared, but … yeah, we were scared! Ah, such wonderful, golden memories to see this.”

Smith asked, “Could you see the impact in record sales, and in tour bookings?”

“Yeah, the record would shoot up the charts real quick,” he replied.

And it wasn’t just great music.