The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan.

In 2002, The Ed Sullivan Show was ranked #15 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.


From 1949 until its cancellation in 1971, the show ran on CBS every Sunday night from 8 – 9 P.M. E.T., and is one of the few entertainment shows to have been run in the same weekly time slot on the same network for more than two decades. (For its first season, it had run from 9 - 10 P.M., E.T.) Virtually every type of entertainment appeared on the show; opera singers, popular artists, songwriters, comedians, ballet dancers, dramatic actors performing monologues from plays, and circus acts were regularly featured. The format was essentially the same as vaudeville, and although vaudeville had died a generation earlier, Sullivan presented many ex-vaudevillians on his show.

Originally co-created and produced by Marlo Lewis, the show was first titled Toast of the Town, but was widely referred to as the Ed Sullivan Show for years before September 25, 1955, when that became its official name. In the show's June 20, 1948 debut, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed along with singer Monica Lewis and Broadway composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II previewing the score to their then-new show South Pacific, which opened on Broadway in 1949.

The Ed Sullivan Show was originally broadcast via live television from the Maxine Elliott Theatre at Broadway and 39th St. before moving to its permanent home at CBS-TV Studio 50 in New York City, which was renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater on the occasion of the program's 20th anniversary in June 1968. The last original Sullivan show telecast (#1068) was on March 28, 1971 with guests Melanie, Joanna Simon, Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass, and Sandler and Young. Repeats were scheduled through June 6, 1971.

The show enjoyed phenomenal popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. As had occurred with Amos 'n Andy on the radio in the early 1930s, and would happen with the annual telecasts of The Wizard of Oz in the 1960s and '70's, the family ritual of gathering around the television set to watch Ed Sullivan became almost a U.S. cultural universal. He was regarded as a kingmaker, and performers considered an appearance on his program as a guarantee of stardom, although this sometimes did not turn out to be the case. The show's iconic status is illustrated by a song from the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie. In the song "Hymn for a Sunday Evening", a family of viewers expresses their regard for the program in worshipful tones.

In September 1965, CBS started televising the program in compatible color, as all three major networks began to switch to 100 percent color prime time schedules. CBS had once backed its own color system, developed by Peter Goldmark, and resisted using RCA's compatible process until 1954. At that time, it built its first New York City color TV studio, Studio 72, at 2248 Broadway (81st Street). One "Ed Sullivan Show" was broadcast on August 22, 1954 from the new studio, but it was mostly used for one-time-only specials such as Rodgers and Hammerstein's March 31, 1957 "Cinderella." CBS Studio 72 was demolished in 1986 and replaced by an apartment house. CBS Studio 50 was finally "colorized" in 1965.

In the late 1960s, Sullivan remarked that his program was waning as the decade went on. He realized that to keep viewers, the best and brightest in entertainment had to be seen, or else the viewers were going to keep on changing the channel. Along with declining viewership, Ed Sullivan attracted a higher median age for the average viewer (which most sponsors found undesirable) as the seasons went on. These two factors were the reason the show was canceled by CBS after the end of the 1970–1971 season. Because there was no notice of cancellation, Sullivan's landmark program ended without a series finale. Sullivan would produce one-off specials for CBS until his death in 1974.

The Three Stooges guest appearancesEdit

May 14, 1961Edit

The guests of the show included Gene Barry as his TV character 'Bat Masterson,' Teresa Brewer ("Silver in My Mother's Hair" and "Milord"), Gene Barry and Teresa Brewer team to sing "The Hills of Old Kentucky," opera singer Richard Tucker, Pete Fountain's Jazz Group, The Idlers (U.S. Coast Guard chorus), comedian Adam Keefe, acrobatic comedian Larry Griswold, and Moe Howard, Larry Fine & Joe DeRita (The Three Stooges) performing the "Stand In" sketch.

In a switch from their 1959 "Stand In" performance on The Steve Allen Show, Larry Fine takes on the role of 'Pedro the Mexican,' allowing him to engage in slapstick punishment on the hapless stand-in, Curly Joe. After this performance, the Stooges were served with a lawsuit from Broadway producer George White, who owned the sketch's copyright. The sketch was written for The George White Scandal of 1939, costarring Moe, Larry & Curly. The case was settled out of court for a nominal fee, and the Stooges continued to use "Stand In" in their live performance repertoire. Ed Sullivan blooper... he introduced the Stooges as "The Ritz Brothers".

February 10, 1963Edit

The guests of the show Patti Page ("If I Were a Bell"), Hal Holbrook recites "Against a House Divided" from his Broadway play Abe Lincoln in Illinois, comedian Dave Madden, The Bob De Voye Trio dances, Fred and Angela Roby perform ventriloquism, comedian Bill Dana as 'Jose Jimenez,' and The Three Stooges (Moe, Larry & Curly Joe) performing the "The Doctor" sketch.

When Moe (the doctor) hits Joe (as the nurse) in the face with a wet sponge, Joe's wig is knocked off his head and he scrambles to put it back on. A classic moment in live television, as Moe breaks up over Joe's predicament.

October 6, 1963Edit

The guests of the show included Surf guitarist Dick Dale ("Swingin' & Surfin"), comedienne Totie Fields, heavyweight champion Sonny Liston skipping rope to "Night Train," Page Cavanaugh and The Page Seven Combo ("Preacher"), tap dancers The Clark Brothers, Kate Smith and a medley of WWII songs, comedian Alan Gale, The Angels ("My Boyfriend's Back"), Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara performing a comedy sketch, and Moe Howard, Larry Fine & Joe DeRita (The Three Stooges) performing their classic "Maharaja" routine.

May 9, 1965Edit

The guests of the show included Della Reese, Richard Pryor, Juliet Prowse, Vaughn Monroe, Jackie Clark, The Kim Sisters, pantomime artists Les Doubles Faces, and The Three Stooges (Moe, Larry & Curly Joe) performing the classic "Niagara Falls" sketch

External linksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.