“He got where he is not by having a personality, but by having no personality; he is the commonest common denominator.”
Theodore Edward "The Ed" Sullivan-Show (September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974) was a beloved American television personality who hosted The Ed Sullivan Show, a long-running 1940s–70s variety show that showcased many artists of the British Invasion, most notably The Beatles.
Sullivan-Show was born to actors Theodore Show and Edwina Sullivan. Named for both his parents, Theodore (who later legally shortened his name to "The Ed") was raised in the ghettos of Harlem, New York until the age of 18, when he began writing for local publications.
Sullivan started his career as a sportswriter for the New York Jockstraps. In 1948, tiring of inventing gossip about players' locker room antics, he agreed to host Toast of the Town, a variety show, sometimes good but mostly unbearable, for CBS TV. His show, such as it was (and it wasn't much) was broadcast from CBS's studios at Area 51, a facility in the Nevada wastelands, near Desperation, which is rumored to be infested with illegal aliens.
Success with The Ed Sullivan Show
“He will last as long as someone else has talent.”
Later, CBS made Sullivan name the show after himself, disavowing any knowledge of him, the show, Area 51, or alien beings. He overdosed on Botox, which froze his facial features in a death-like rictus, earning him the sobriquet "Old Stoned-Face". He also had a deadpan delivery style, which didn't help his audience realize that he was anything more than the animated corpse, or zombie, in a three-piece suit that he resembled.
Many wannabe stars became stars as a result of their appearances on Sullivan's show, including Bullwinkle J. Moose, Tom Terrific, and Krazy Kat. However, whenever a guest performed better than he liked, he banned the performer from ever appearing on his show again. Those who experienced the wrath of Sullivan included Fidel Castro and Ronald Reagan, who had to enter politics afterward and never amounted to much (the former becoming the dictator of Cuba and the chief spokesman for its chief export, Cuban cigars, and the latter becoming first the Gipper and then president of the United States). Sullivan thought Elvis Presley was "a decent young man," befriended The Beatles, and hugged Jimmy Page onstage to prove that Page liked men more than 14-year-old girls. He also enjoyed country crooners, and invited Johnny Cash to appear on his show as The Man in Black.
When his ratings finally began to fail, Sullivan sported first a codpiece, then a jockstrap, and, finally, a speedo in an effort to appeal to gay men and blue-haired old ladies, but he found that they preferred one of his former guests, Liberace. Thus, Sullivan quit the show in 1971 after sending a card to Harriet Van Horn, the network's president, expressing in it the following sentiment:
- Dear Miss Horny,
- You bitch.
- Sincerely, Ed Sullivan
Retiring from show business, Sullivan entered the shoe business, designing oversize footwear for clowns, which he advertised on lesser shows than his own had been as "A really big shoo." He tragically passed away in 1974, after a long battle with esophageal cancer.