Today on “Days to Remember,” we celebrate Ed Sullivan’s birthday which was on September 28th 1902.
Who was Ed Sullivan?
Edward Vincent “Ed” Sullivan was an American television personality, sports and entertainment reporter, and longtime syndicated columnist for the New York Daily News.
He is principally remembered as the creator and host of the television variety program The Toast of the Town, later popularly and, eventually, officially renamed The Ed Sullivan Show.
Sullivan was born in Harlem, New York City, a former boxer; Sullivan began his media work as a newspaper sportswriter for the New York Evening Graphic.
In the early years of Sullivan career when Walter Winchell, one of the original gossip columnists and the most powerful entertainment reporter of his day, left the newspaper for the Hearst syndicate, Sullivan took over as theatre columnist.
In 1948, Marlo Lewis, a producer, got the CBS network to hire Sullivan to do a weekly Sunday night TV variety show, Toast of the Town, which later became The Ed Sullivan Show.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Sullivan was a respected star maker because of the number of performers who became household names after appearing on the show. He had a knack for identifying and promoting top talent and paid a great deal of money to secure that talent for his show.
Sullivan appreciated African American talent. According to biographer Gerald Nachman, “Most TV variety shows welcomed ‘acceptable’ black superstars like Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey and Sammy Davis, Jr, but in the early 1950s, long before it was fashionable, Sullivan was presenting the much more obscure black entertainers he had enjoyed growing up in Harlem. He was the first television host to make a breakthrough for black entertainers to be shown on television.
In the fall of 1965, CBS began televising its weekly programs in color. Although the Sullivan show was seen live in the Central and Eastern Time zones, it was taped for airing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones.
By 1971, the show’s ratings had plummeted. In an effort to refresh its lineup, CBS canceled the program along with some of its other longtime shows. Sullivan was angered, and refused to do a final show, although he remained with the network in various other capacities and hosted a 25th anniversary special in June 1973.
In early September 1974, X-rays revealed that Sullivan had advanced esophageal cancer. Doctors gave him very little time, and the family chose to keep the diagnosis from him. Sullivan, still believing his ailment to be yet another complication from a long-standing battle with gastric ulcers, died five weeks later on October 13, 1974, at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital.
His funeral was attended by 3,000 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York on a cold, rainy day. Sullivan is interred in a crypt at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
Sullivan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6101 Hollywood Blvd.
As we remember Ed Sullivan birthday today, he was a favorite television show host for many years.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell