The Ed Sullivan Show would like to wish a very happy 70th birthday to the first lady of Motown, Diana Ross!
Many musical acts broke into the mainstream on the Sullivan stage. Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones are just a few of the names that come to mind. As big as those performances were, there was a group that made more appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show than all of those acts put together. With 18 appearances, Diana Ross and The Supremes stood tall above all other pop performers as one of Sullivan’s most ubiquitous guests.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the teenage Ross joined a local vocal group known as The Primettes. The ensemble would eventually cross paths with Motown founder Barry Gordy. Gordy, while very impressed with the group, was reluctant to sign them because of their youth. However, Ross’ unwavering spirit convinced Gordy to give the group a chance, at which point they solidified as a trio called The Supremes.
Although the group didn’t have a lead singer at first, Diana Ross quickly became the star, singing lead on a majority of The Supremes’ songs. They quickly grew in popularity, making their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in December of 1964. They became a staple of the program and Sullivan in particular took a liking to the group, referring to them affectionately as “The Girls.” Known for their updo hairstyles, their matching gowns, and their bright-eyed radiance, The Supremes were a massive hit with television audiences. They would use the Sullivan Show as a stage to sing some of their biggest numbers, such as “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.”
Diana Ross remained the focal point of the group as it continued to ascend to stardom. This was cemented in 1967 when the group was renamed Diana Ross and The Supremes. This incarnation of the group would make their final Sullivan Show appearance in December of 1969. Ross then embarked on a successful solo career, with several hit records. In 1972 she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. In 1982, she was honored with her own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and two years later The Supremes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Most recently, Diana Ross was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
On this momentous occasion we are very pleased to celebrate Diana Ross’ extraordinary career and congratulate her on over 50 fantastic years in show business. Few American musical artists can match her longevity and impact.
Happy Birthday Diana!