Monday, June 21st, 2021

National Perspective: ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was an institution

Today, no one remembers Topo Gigio or Senor Wences. Today, no one thinks the riffs of Alan King are side-splitting gems of comedy. Today, no one would consider it appropriate to film a performer such as Elvis Presley only from the waist up. Today, no one would even think of telling Mick Jagger to cleanse “Let’s spend the night together” into “Let’s spend some time together.”

Today, no one thinks it remarkable to have a Black performer on television. Today, there is no show on television remotely like “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

This is not your usual retrospective on a cultural icon, published on the anniversary of its emergence on the American cultural scene. This is instead a meditation on the end of Ed Sullivan’s variety show, 50 years ago this week.