Next Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 marks what would have been Ed Sullivan’s 110th birthday. The variety show icon, whose showbiz career spanned over 4 decades, died at the age of 73 on October 13, 1974. This was only 3 years after the cancellation of The Ed Sullivan Show, which aired for a remarkable 23 years and to this day remains the longest running variety program in broadcast history. Ed’s skill for nabbing top talent was unparalleled, earning him the nickname the “Master of Variety.”
Edward Vincent Sullivan was born in Harlem, New York on September 28, 1901. As a child, Ed loved to play sports, so it seemed fitting that when he began his professional career as a newspaper reporter, he covered sports. Then, in 1931, after reading one of his features, The New York Daily News hired Ed to write a regular column about all aspects of New York City called “Little Ole New York.”
In the late 1920s, Ed also began hosting a variety of radio programs that featured entertainers such as Jimmy Durante, Irving Berlin, and Jack Benny. By the 1940s, Sullivan’s popularity continued to grow as he hosted reviews in theaters throughout Manhattan. In 1947, Sullivan emceed the Harvest Moon Ball for The New York Daily News and the televised event caught the attention of CBS, who hired him to host their new variety show, “Toast of the Town.” After a slow start, “Toast of the Town” eventually took hold and became a major ratings success. In 1955 the show’s name was changed to “The Ed Sullivan Show” and continued to air until 1971.
Ed Sullivan will always be remembered for his major contribution to variety entertainment. He gave many legendary artists their first major exposure and introduced a nation to iconic moments in television history. This week, in celebration of his 110th birthday, we remember Ed Sullivan and all the great acts he shared with us on his legendary stage.
For more about the life of Ed Sullivan check out this short video: