CAIRO – 28 September 2017: September 28 marks the 116th birthday of TV show host, producer and journalist Ed Sullivan, famous for his variety hour "The Ed Sullivan Show" which helped introduce The Beatles to the U.S.
Born in New York City, Harlem, in the year 1901, Sullivan came from a large family. He outlived two of his sickly siblings and grew up to become a talented athlete in high school, though he was first noticed for a feature story he wrote about Broadway, which attracted the attention of the New York Times, for which he became a column writer.
Sullivan would continue to pursue journalism as his career choice throughout the 1920s, working at The Associated Press and The Morning Telegraph.
After marrying Sylvia Weinstein in 1930, the couple had a daughter named Elizabeth. Sullivan eventually became host for the Harvest Moon Ball on CBS, and was surprised to find it had actually been televised. Executives liked what he had to offer, and so Sullivan was signed on to host CBS’s newest variety show “Toast of the Town,” which premiered on June 20, 1948.
At first, advertisers did not like Sullivan, and threatened to pull support for the show. He refused to back down, which proved to be the right move; by 1955 the show had become such a major success that it was renamed to "The Ed Sullivan Show." It grew to be the longest running variety show on TV and one of the most popular during the 50s and 60s.
Sullivan was a man of variety, always willing to give audiences something new, and fresh. It was no surprise that he was a huge supporter of racial diversity as well, being one of the few TV hosts at the time to actively encourage African-American talent when others refused to.
Thanks to Sullivan, black artists such as The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald and many more became household names.
Sullivan is also famous for giving The Beatles their first ever TV debut in the U.S, helping The Beatles conquer America’s music scene. They played live at his show for a total of four times.
also hit it big thanks to Sullivan’s show, though Sullivan himself was not there to personally introduce the musician to 75 million viewers. Having gotten into a car accident a week earlier, Sullivan was temporarily replaced by host Charles Laughton.
The final episode of “The Ed Sullivan Show” aired on June 6, 1971. Two years later, Sullivan’s wife died in March 1973, and Sullivan shortly followed her a year later, losing his battle to esophageal cancer on October 13, 1974. He was 74 years old.
“The Ed Sullivan” theatre where he hosted his show eventually became the setting for David Letterman’s "Late Show with David Letterman." “The Ed Sullivan Show” won the 1959 Golden Globe award for Television Achievement, a fitting prize for a man that helped introduce more than 10,000 acts during his lifetime, according to The Museum of Broadcast Communications.
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