From 1948 to 1971, The Ed Sullivan Show welcomed hundreds of performers from around the world to its stage. Some talent performed only once, while others made multiple appearances during the show’s amazing 23 year run! Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top recurring performers on the show, and you might be surprised by who you see.
Connie Francis (26 appearances)
On May 11, 1958, Connie Francis made her debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. She performed right after the infamous wildly popular Tony Martin. For her debut Connie sang her hit song I’m Sorry I Made You Cry. After this smash first appearance, Francis went on to perform twenty five more times on the Sullivan Show. Connie, who became one of the most sought after female performers, was asked by Ed Sullivan to travel with the show to West Berlin and later Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba to entertain the American troops when Ed hosted special episodes from both locations.
Jean Carroll (29 appearances)
On January 16, 1949, Jean Carroll made her debut on Toast of The Town, the original name of The Ed Sullivan Show. Kicking off her string of appearances with one of her famous routines about Florida and its vacationers. Carroll became a crowd favorite known for her husband-inspired and family routines. Many fans say Jean Carroll served as an early inspiration to Joan Rivers. Carroll made a total of 29 appearances and even hosted her own show on ABC in 1953, The Jean Carroll Show.
Stiller & Meara (36 appearances)
On April 7, 1963, husband-and-wife comedy duo Stiller & Meara made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The two were such a hit with the audience they were invited back to the show repeatedly throughout the 60’s and 70’s, for a total of 36 appearances! When the show ended its run in 1971, Stiller & Meara went on to host a short-lived TV program, Take Five with Stiller & Meara immediately following Saturday Night Live and appeared on a number of sitcoms, including their own The Stiller and Meara Show. Younger generations may best remember Jerry Stiller from playing the role of Frank Costanza on Seinfeld.
Alan King (37 appearances)
Alan King appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time on December 30th, 1956. This performance was booked at the last minute after Victor Borge cancelled. Alan King lived just outside New York City and was generally available to fill in for talent making him a valuable asset for Ed. Alan King performed an incredible 37 times on the show between 1956 and 1969. Known for his poignant monologues about domestic and everyday life, King had a bold, raw wit that people could relate to. King was among Ed’s favorite acts.
Rickie Layne (39 appearances)
On January 1, 1956, ventriloquist Rickie Layne made his debut on the show with his Yiddish-accented dummy, Velvel. Layne was as original as it gets, and was a massive crowd pleaser. Singer Nat “King” Cole discovered Layne at L.A.’s Ciros’ nightclub on the Sunset Strip (now The Comedy Store) and urged Sullivan to put Layne on his popular Sunday night show. Layne appeared a total of 39 times, and even brought Ed in on the act during many of his appearances.
Roberta Peters (41 appearances)
On December 3, 1950, Roberta Peters made her debut on Toast of The Town at only 19 years old. Ms. Peters was to become one of the most prominent American opera stars, noted for her 35-year run as a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York. During this time she made 41 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Roberta Peters was also appreciated for her memorable Sullivan performances with other acclaimed singers like Robert Merrill to whom she was briefly married, Cesare Siepi, Risë Stevens and many more.
Myron Cohen (43 appearances)
On October 15, 1950, Myron Cohen appeared on the Toast of The Town for the first time. This was one of Cohen’s first live television appearances. Cohen began his career as a salesman, but his customers suggested he was too funny to be in sales and should pursue comedy. Cohen never looked back and found himself a New York comedy sensation. Cohen with his gained notoriety from the Sullivan Show appearances built a name for himself as a headliner in Upstate New York’s famed Borscht Belt and in the nightclub circuit around the country. In all Myron Cohen made 43 appearances on the Sullivan Show.
Jack Carter (49 appearances)
On October 23, 1949, Jack Carter first appeared on Toast of The Town. Carter brought a versatile style of comedy to the show. From storytelling, to impersonating Ed, to singing, Carter could do it all which definitely showed his skillset as an entertainer. This is probably one of the many reasons why he appeared on the show 49 times. Following Carter’s comedy career he had a successful run as an actor in many films and T.V.shows.
Topo Gigio (50 appearances)
One of the most famous puppets in history, Topo Gigio traveled from Italy to first appear on The Ed Sullivan Show stage on December 9, 1962. No one could have predicted that the endearing little Italian mouse puppet would go on to become one of the show’s most memorable acts. Topo was originally brought onto the show in an effort to make Ed more engaging to his audience – especially kids. Topo quickly became a hit, making 50 appearances over the years and exposing a sentimental side of Ed Sullivan that audiences had never seen before.
Wayne & Shuster (58 appearances)
On May 4, 1958, Canadians Wayne & Shuster performed for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. They allegedly earned around $7,500 a show, which was more than most of the other performers on the show (including Elvis). They were an instant hit and returned to the Sullivan stage an additional 57 times! In the summer of 1961, CBS gave them a sitcom called Holiday Lodge, where the comedy duo would perform various original sketches that grew their fan base. Always true to their Canadian roots, ironically Wayne & Shuster hold the record for the most appearances on America’s favorite variety television show!
Thank you for stopping by the Ed Sullivan Show blog. We hope you learned more about the iconic show and these legendary guests. To see a longer list of performers who appeared the most, check out our other post on the Most Frequent Ed Sullivan Show Guests. Remember to also subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos on all of your favorite acts!