ED SULLIVAN Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: Edward Vincent Sullivan                                                           
Born: 28 September 1901 New York City, New York                                         
Died: 13 October 1974 New York City, New York                                           
Edward Vincent Sullivan (September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974) was an American       
entertainment writer and television host, best known as the emcee of a popular         
TV variety show called The Ed Sullivan Show that was at its height of popularity       
in the 1950s and 1960s.                                                                 
A former boxer, Sullivan began his media work as a newspaper sportswriter. 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 theater columnist for The New York Graphic and later             
for The New York Daily News. His column concentrated on Broadway shows and             
gossip, as Winchell's had and, like Winchell, he also did show business news           
broadcasts on radio. Sullivan soon became a powerful starmaker in the                   
entertainment world himself, becoming one of Winchell's main rivals, setting the       
El Morocco nightclub in New York as his unofficial headquarters against Winchell's     
seat of power at the nearby Stork Club. Sullivan continued writing for The News         
throughout his broadcasting career and his popularity long outlived that of             
In 1948, the CBS network hired Sullivan to do a weekly Sunday night TV variety         
show, Toast of the Town, which later became The Ed Sullivan Show. The show was         
broadcast from CBS Studio 50, at 1697 Broadway (at 53rd Street) in New York City,       
which in 1967 was renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater (and is now the home of The           
Late Show with David Letterman).                                                       
Reacting to the Cold War fervor of the time, Ed Sullivan worked closely with           
Theodore Kirkpatrick of the anti-communist "Counterattack" newsletter. Sullivan         
would check with Kirkpatrick if a potential guest had some "explaining to do"           
about his politics. Sullivan wrote in his June 21, 1950 New York Daily News             
Column that "Kirkpatrick has sat in my living room on several occasions and             
listened attentively to performers eager to secure a certification of loyalty."         
(Reference: Tube of Plenty, Eric Barnouw, Oxford University Press, 1990)               
Sullivan himself had little acting ability; his mannerisms on camera were               
somewhat awkward and often caricatured by comedians who called him "Old Stone           
Face," owing to his deadpan delivery. Columnist Harriet Van Horne alleged that "he     
got where he is not by having a personality, but by having no personality."             
Somehow, Sullivan still seemed to fit the show; he appeared to the audience as         
an average guy who brought the great acts of show business to their home               
televisions. ("He will last," comedian and frequent guest Alan King was quoted         
as saying, "as long as someone else has talent.") Sullivan had a healthy sense         
of humor about himself and permitted—even encouraged—impersonators such as John     
Byner, Frank Gorshin, Rich Little and especially Will Jordan to imitate him on         
his show. Johnny Carson also did a fair impression. The impressionists                 
exaggerated his stiffness, raised shoulders, and nasal tenor phrasing, along           
with some of his commonly used introductions, such as "And now, right here on           
our stage..." and "For all you youngsters out there..." and "...really big shoe..."     
Will Jordan portrayed Sullivan in the films I Wanna Hold Your Hand, The Buddy           
Holly Story, The Doors, Mr. Saturday Night, Down With Love, and in the 1979 TV         
movie Elvis.                                                                           
In the 1950s and 1960s, Sullivan was a respected starmaker because of the number       
of performers that 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. He paid for the funeral of dancer         
Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson out of his own pocket. He also defied pressure to             
exclude African American musicians from appearing on his show. In 1969, Sullivan       
presented the Jackson 5 with their first single "I Want You Back", which ousted         
B. J. Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" from the top spot of                 
Billboard's pop charts.