The First Color Episode
One week after The Beatles, “The Ed Sullivan Show” aired its first episode in color. Taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood, the show was a typical example of the Sullivan mix. It opened with the Moro Landis Dancers, followed by an aerial act, Sandler & Young singing with Polly Bergen, Red Skelton’s stand-up comedy, a mime, teen idols Dino,..Read More
Joan Rivers had contributed to the show by writing material for Topo Gigio, so Ed was familiar with her when he mistakenly announced her as an upcoming guest instead of Johnny Rivers. Her first booking as a comedian may have been the result of a mistake, but Joan’s relatable humor was such a hit it led to 20 more appearances.
Before “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show,” Jim Henson and Frank Oz brought early versions of Kermit, Grover and Big Bird to Ed Sullivan. In the first of their 25 appearances, a green monster playing guitar began sprouting extra heads, all playing different instruments. After this rock band finished a song, the monster shrunk into a tiny rock and was..Read More
The Rolling Stones Are Censored
The rebellious Rolling Stones appreciated the exposure that “The Ed Sullivan Show” brought them, and reluctantly followed Ed’s rules. On their fifth appearance, they were to play “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” That day, the network and Ed demanded they change the lyrics to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” The band balked, but Ed insisted. During the..Read More
Ed’s love for Motown and Berry Gordy’s ingenuity in releasing his artist’s singles to coincide with their appearances on Sullivan, helped make Motown the sound of America. Along with numerous appearances by The Supremes and The Temptations, the Sullivan stage was graced by The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Martha & the Vandellas, Gladys Knight & the Pips..Read More
The Doors Defy Ed Sullivan
During rehearsal, network censors had an issue with The Doors lyrics “get higher” in their song “Light My Fire.” Jim Morrison promised he would replace the provocative words, but sang the original version in the live show. Told they would never appear on the show again, Morrison responded, “Hey, man, we just did the Sullivan Show!”
The Supremes & The Temptations
The Supremes and The Temptations were both international superstars when they appeared together on the Sullivan stage. The Supremes sang The Temptations hits (“Get Ready” and “I’m Losing You”), while The Temptations sang The Supremes hits (“Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Baby Love”). This successful pairing led to two primetime network specials.
The Ed Sullivan Theater
What is now known as The Ed Sullivan Theater, opened in 1927 as the Hammerstein. In 1935 CBS took control and it was known as CBS-TV Studio 50. Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” moved there in 1953. In 1967, to mark the show’s 20th year, it was renamed The Ed Sullivan Theater in Ed’s honor. Retaining the name, it..Read More
Neil Diamond was working in the famous Brill Building, writing songs recorded by Elvis Presley and The Monkees, while trying to build his own singing career. It took off when he performed his massive hit “Sweet Caroline” and “Holly Holy” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He was one of the new wave of singer-songwriters like Carole King and Paul Simon..Read More
The Jackson 5
Before he was The King of Pop, Michael Jackson was the youngest brother in The Jackson 5. Ed was anxious to book the group known for their youthful harmonies and tight choreography. For their Sullivan debut, they performed “Stand.” And then young Michael, wearing a purple hat and suede vest, told a story about a girl he met in the..Read More