If you were growing up in the 1950s and 60s then I’m sure you remember Ed Sullivan. Ed was a victim to many critics in the beginning of his television appearances, such as he has no talent, he is awkward, and my favorite “His smile is that of a man sucking on a lemon”.
Despite the critics The Ed Sullivan variety show was the longest running variety show in television history. Starting in 1948 the show was broadcast as The Toast of the Town, and was later named the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955.
Sullivan had a knack for spotting great talent; he finally booked Elvis Presley after Elvis was well into his fame. This was the well known appearance where the cameras only showed Elvis from the waist up.
Then in February 1964 the Beatles made their United States début on the Ed Sullivan show, this became the most watched appearance in television history, and still ranks high today.
Ed stood his ground on the racial issue, as he booked many African American talents on his show, against the wishes of his sponsor. Did you know? He actually threw a representative of his sponsor out of his theatre for asking him why he was booking such acts. On another occasion his crew had to pull him off of another one for the same thing.
He was a master at booking all kinds of different talent to appeal to all ages. The show was a balance of music, comedy and other entertaining acts.
Who could forget Topo Gigio the little Italian mouse? The puppet hit the stage in 1962 and became an overnight hit with the viewers. Everybody wondered how this puppet could move around the stage freely without visible strings attached.
Here is how they did it; it took four people to manipulate the little puppet that was only 10 inches tall. They were all dressed in black against a black curtain to stay invisible to the audience. How cool was that?
Now if you are too young to remember Topo Gigio, here is a little video for you, and if you have had the pleasure of watching him enjoy the memory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR. SAM MONACO