Big Shews to Fill
Ed Sullivan's trademark phrase, "A really big shew"
may be laughable or almost totally unheard of today.
for those who remember the former newspaper sportswriter
and gossip columnist with his stiff, almost unnerving
delivery, his odd pronunciations have become almost as
beloved as Ed himself.
From 1948-1971 Mr. Sullivan consistently delivered,
as he promised, "A really big shew" (a really big show) to
millions every week on CBS Television. And even though
Ed's pronunciation may have been slightly off, his
selection and presentation of talent was always right on
For its first several seasons the weekly
variety-fest aired as Toast of the Town but the name was
Due to the viewing public's love of
Ed's "regular guy" demeanor and his ever growing
popularity CBS decided to capitalize and present the
series as The Ed Sullivan Show from 1955-1971.
The Ed Sullivan Show was and is the definitive
variety show. On any given week its audience would be
treated to most every form of entertainment imaginable.
Acts ranging from music to comedy to dancing bears were
regularly featured and the public ate it up.
Sullivan's show became a television mainstay that
evolved into a star-making juggernaut. An appearance on
The Ed Sullivan Show routinely made unknown performers
famous and famous performers phenomenally popular.
With an uncanny ability for spotting future trends
in entertainment, Sullivan repeatedly shared his talent by
introducing America to show business legends in the
A roster of acts that appeared on his show reads
like a who's who of entertainment from the 50's and 60's
(along with impressive appearances in the late 40's and
In its 23-year run The Ed Sullivan Show featured
(among others) Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Richard
Burton, Julie Andrews,
Buddy Holly, The Animals,
Doors, James Brown, Joan Rivers, Kate Smith, George
Carlin, Buster Keaton, Henny Youngman, Bob Hope, The
Rolling Stones, Richard Pryor, The Temptations and a list
that goes on and on.
The Sullivan show even
wielded enough power to book some of these and other
legends multiple times.
Elvis Presley shared the stage with Ed 3 times.
Also appearing on numerous occasions was a British band
The Beatles. And even though Elvis and The Fab Four
were obviously destined for greatness, most historians
agree that The Ed Sullivan Show not only hurried their
success but also multiplied it.
Sadly, no one has ever come close to matching the
talent-spotting skill of Ed Sullivan. No show has ever
presented quality entertainment as consistently as The Ed
Sullivan Show and it is doubtful that one ever will.
Ed Sullivan died in 1974 at the age of 72 and left
behind him a body of entertainment discoveries that are
still here today for all to enjoy. Ed will never be
CBS honored Mr. Sullivan in 1967 by renaming Studio
50 (Ed's television home) The Ed Sullivan Theater and it
still hosts a certain amount of variety. Today it plays
home to The Late Show with David Letterman.
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