Biography

Though he is most fondly remembered for his TV hosting duties of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, New York newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan was a show business personality as far back as 1932. Hired by the CBS network as a potential rival for radio commentator Walter Winchell, Sullivan took to the air with a heady combination of gossip and entertainment. Among the future radio luminaries introduced on Sullivan's program were Jack Benny and Jack Pearl (aka Baron Munchhausen). In 1933 Sullivan made his film debut in Mr. Broadway, which he also wrote. His subsequent screenplay and story contributions included the screwball comedy There Goes My Heart (1938) and the Universal "pocket" musical Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me (1940). In 1947, he entered the fledgling medium of television to host a variety hour titled Toast of the Town, later re-christened The Ed Sullivan Show. Though hardly a likely candidate for TV stardom -- he appeared to have a permanently stiff neck, wandered aimlessly around the stage, slurred his words ("Rilllly big shew!"), and frequently mispronounced the names of his guest stars -- Sullivan remained a Sunday night fixture until his series left the air in 1971. As an adjunct to his TV fame, he appeared as "himself" in such films as Bye Bye Birdie (1961), The Patsy (1964), and The Singing Nun (1965), and was parodied by countless impressionists, most notably Will Jordan. To three generations of rock music fans, Ed Sullivan will always be remembered for those five immortal words, "Here they are -- THE BEATLES!" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi