Ed Sullivan (1901 - 1974)

Ed Sullivan
1901 - 1974
updated October 23, 2019
Ed Sullivan was born on September 28, 1901. He died on October 13, 1974 at age 73.

Edward Vincent Sullivan (September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974) was an American television personality, impresario,[2] sports and entertainment reporter, and syndicated columnist for the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. He is principally remembered as the creator and host of the television variety program The Toast of the Town, later popularly—and, eventually, officially—renamed The Ed Sullivan Show. Broadcast for 23 years from 1948 to 1971, it set a record as the longest-running variety show in US broadcast history.[3] "It was, by almost any measure, the last great TV show," said television critic David Hinckley. "It's one of our fondest, dearest pop culture memories."[4]

Sullivan was a broadcasting pioneer at many levels during television's infancy. As TV critic David Bianculli wrote, "Before MTV, Sullivan presented rock acts. Before Bravo, he presented jazz and classical music and theater. Before the Comedy Channel, even before there was the Tonight Show, Sullivan discovered, anointed and popularized young comedians. Before there were 500 channels, before there was cable, Ed Sullivan was where the choice was. From the start, he was indeed 'the Toast of the Town'."[5] In 1996, Sullivan was ranked number 50 on TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time".
Early life and career
Edward Vincent Sullivan was born on September 28, 1901 in Harlem, New York City, the son of Elizabeth F. (née Smith) and Peter Arthur Sullivan, a customs house employee, and grew up in Port Chester, New York.[7] He was of Irish descent.[8] The entire family loved music, and someone was always playing the piano or singing. A phonograph was a prized possession; the family loved playing all types of records on it. Sullivan was a gifted athlete in high school, earning 12 athletic letters at Port Chester High School. He played halfback in football; he was a guard in basketball; in track he was a sprinter. With the baseball team, Sullivan was catcher and team captain, and he led the team to several championships. Baseball made an impression on him that would affect his career as well as the culture of America. Sullivan noted that, in the state of New York, regarding high school sports, then integration was taken for granted: "When we went up into Connecticut, we ran into clubs that had Negro players. In those days this was accepted as commonplace; and so, my instinctive antagonism years later to any theory that a Negro wasn't a worthy opponent or was an inferior person. It was just as simple as that."
Sullivan landed his first job at The Port Chester Daily Item, a local newspaper for which he had written sports news while in high school and then joined the paper full-time after graduation. In 1919, he joined The Hartford Post. The newspaper folded in his first week there, but he landed another job on The New York Evening Mail as a sports reporter. After The Evening Mail closed in 1923, he bounced through a series of news jobs with The Associated Press, The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Morning World, The Morning Telegraph, The New York Bulletin and The Leader. Finally, in 1927, Sullivan joined The Evening Graphic, first as a sports writer, and then as a sports editor. In 1929, when Walter Winchell moved to The Daily Mirror, Sullivan was made Broadway columnist. He left the Graphic for the city's largest tabloid, the New York Daily News. His column, "Little Old New York", concentrated on Broadway shows and gossip, as Winchell's had; and, like Winchell, he did show-business news broadcasts on radio. Again echoing Winchell, Sullivan took on yet another medium in 1933 by writing and starring in the film Mr. Broadway, which has him guiding the audience around New York nightspots to meet entertainers and celebrities. 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 Winchell's.[citation needed]
Throughout his career as a columnist, Sullivan had dabbled in entertainment—producing vaudeville shows with which he appeared as master of ceremonies in the 1920s and 1930s, directing a radio program over the original WABC (now WCBS) and organizing benefit reviews for various causes.
Radio
In 1941, Sullivan was host of the Summer Silver Theater, a variety program on CBS, with Will Bradley as bandleader and a guest star featured each week.
Television
In 1948, Marlo Lewis, a producer, got the CBS network to hire Sullivan to do a weekly Sunday-night TV variety show, Toast of the Town, which later became The Ed Sullivan Show. Debuting in June 1948, the show was originally broadcast from the Maxine Elliott Theatre on West 39th Street in New York City. In January 1953, it moved to CBS-TV Studio 50, at 1697 Broadway (at 53rd Street) in New York City, which in 1967 was renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater (and was later the home of the Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). Studio 50 was formerly a CBS Radio studio, from 1936 to 1953, and before that was the legitimate Hammerstein Theatre, built in 1927.
Television critics gave the new show and its host poor reviews. Harriet Van Horne alleged that "he got where he is not by having a personality, but by having no personality." (The host wrote to the critic, "Dear Miss Van Horne: You bitch. Sincerely, Ed Sullivan.") Sullivan had little acting ability; in 1967, 20 years after his show's debut, Time magazine asked, "What exactly is Ed Sullivan's talent?" His mannerisms on camera were so awkward that some viewers believed the host suffered from Bell's palsy. Time in 1955 stated that Sullivan resembled a cigar-store Indian, the Cardiff Giant and a stone-faced monument just off the boat from Easter Island. He moves like a sleepwalker; his smile is that of a man sucking a lemon; his speech is frequently lost in a thicket of syntax; his eyes pop from their sockets or sink so deep in their bags that they seem to be peering up at the camera from the bottom of twin wells.
Carmen Miranda on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1953
The magazine concluded, however, that "Yet, instead of frightening children, Ed Sullivan charms the whole family." Sullivan appeared to the audience as an average guy who brought the great acts of show business to their home televisions. "Ed Sullivan will last", comedian Fred Allen said, "as long as someone else has talent", and frequent guest Alan King said, "Ed does nothing, but he does it better than anyone else in television."[13] He had a newspaperman's instinct for what the public wanted, and programmed his variety hours with remarkable balance. There was something for everyone. A typical show would feature a vaudeville act (acrobats, jugglers, magicians, etc.), one or two popular comedians, a singing star, a hot jukebox favorite, a figure from the legitimate theater, and for the kids, a visit with puppet "Topo Gigio, the little Italian mouse", or a popular athlete. The bill was often international in scope, with many European performers augmenting the American artists.
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, and even Joan Rivers imitated Sullivan's unique posture. 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 ...", "For all you youngsters out there ...", and "a really big shew" (his pronunciation of the word "show"). 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.

Sullivan inspired a song in the musical Bye Bye Birdie,[14] and in 1963, appeared as himself in the film.

In 1954, Sullivan was a co-host on a memorable TV musical special, General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein.[15]
ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Ed Sullivan Biography

Vital facts & highlights of Ed's life to share with the world.

Ed Sullivan
Most commonly known name
Male
Gender
Ed
First name
Unknown
Middle name
Sullivan
Last name(s)
Edward Vincent Sullivan
Nickname(s) or aliases
Unknown. Did Ed move a lot? Where was his last known location?
Last known residence
Ed Sullivan was born on
Birth
Ed Sullivan died on
Death
Ed Sullivan was born on
Ed Sullivan died on
Birth
Death
There is no cause of death listed for Ed.
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Ed Sullivan?
Burial / Funeral
Unknown
Obituary

Ethnicity & Lineage

What is Ed's ethnicity and where did his parents, grandparents & great-grandparents come from?

Nationality & Locations Lived

Unknown

Religion

Unknown. Was Ed a religious man?

Education

Did Ed finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did Ed attend?

Professions

Share what Ed did for a living or if he had a career or profession.

Personal Life & Organizations

Television host, writer

Military Service

Did Ed serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with his life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different Ed Sullivan?
View other bios of people named Ed Sullivan
Back to Top

Ed Sullivan Family Tree

Ed's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Sullivan family tree.

Ed's Family

Add a parent
Add a parent
Ed Sullivan
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a sibling

Friends:

Click to add friends & family.

Ed's Family Photos

Photos and snapshots taken of Ed Sullivan, his Sullivan family, and locations and places or events from his life.

ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Share Memories about Ed

What do you remember about Ed Sullivan? Share your memories of special moments and stories you have heard about him. Or just leave a comment to show the world that Ed is remembered.

Ed Sullivan Obituary

This obit of Ed Sullivan is maintained by Ed's followers. Contribute to her obituary and include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Ed Sullivan passed away on October 13, 1974 at 73 years old. He was born on September 28, 1901. We have no information about Ed's family or relationships.
Followers & Sources
Other Records of Ed Sullivan

1901 - 1974 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Ed's lifetime

In 1901, in the year that Ed Sullivan was born, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded. Chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel, who died in 1896, had provided in his will for prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine, who have produced the most distinguished literary work of an idealist tendency, and who have contributed the most toward world peace. The winners in 1901 were: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen for physics, Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff for chemistry, Emil Adolf von Behring for physiology or medicine, Sully Prudhomme for literature, and Jean Henry Dunant and Frédéric Passy for peace.

In 1928, Ed was 27 years old when Mickie Mouse was born! He first appeared in Disney's Steamboat Willie, along with Minnie. Although they were in two previous shorts, this was the first to be distributed. Steamboat Willie took advantage of the new technology and was a "talkie" - music was coordinated with the animation. It became the most popular cartoon of its day.

In 1938, at the age of 37 years old, Ed was alive when on June 25th (a Saturday) the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt (along with 120 other bills). The Act banned oppressive child labor, set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and established the maximum workweek at 44 hours. It faced a lot of opposition and in fighting for it, Roosevelt said "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."

In 1953, when he was 52 years old, actress and comedian Lucille Ball gave birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr on January 19th. On the same day on "I Love Lucy", the fictional Little Ricky was born as well. Baby Desi graced the cover of the first TV Guide magazine with a headline that read ""Lucy's $50,000,000 baby" - because the commercial revenue from his birth was expected to be that amount.

In 1974, in the year of Ed Sullivan's passing, on July 30th, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon. He was charged with obstruction of justice, failure to uphold laws, and the refusal to produce material subpoenaed by the committee. In order to avoid impeachment, Richard M. Nixon announced that he would resign on August 8th, the first President to do so.

Other Biographies

Other Ed Sullivans

Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
c. 1916 - Jan 20, 1917
c. 1890 - Aug 15, 1891
Jul 19, 1896 - November 1969
Jul 2, 1897 - September 1972
Feb 6, 1923 - Apr 30, 1994
Jul 1, 1901 - April 1985
Sep 16, 1880 - April 1966
Apr 7, 1913 - April 1975
Apr 13, 1920 - Sep 20, 1999
Nov 29, 1886 - December 1969
Aug 24, 1903 - Nov 27, 1995
Feb 20, 1915 - Mar 29, 1989
Feb 16, 1909 - November 1986
Dec 19, 1912 - February 1980
Jul 26, 1949 - Aug 1, 2010
Apr 19, 1928 - Jan 8, 2004
Dec 7, 1934 - August 1979
Jan 26, 1899 - December 1964

Other Sullivans

Dec 6, 1908 - Feb 20, 1990
Jan 9, 1920 - Sep 14, 2004
Jun 13, 1919 - November 1992
Mar 1, 1915 - Mar 28, 2001
Oct 3, 1918 - Jul 24, 2002
Apr 17, 1921 - Dec 28, 2003
May 8, 1921 - July 1985
Sep 20, 1919 - Mar 13, 1990
Oct 6, 1918 - Dec 18, 2008
Apr 6, 1924 - Mar 5, 1994
Jan 18, 1921 - September 1982
Apr 6, 1923 - Jan 7, 2003
Mar 10, 1920 - Nov 20, 2003
Mar 29, 1919 - Dec 6, 2000
May 11, 1911 - December 1981
Sep 5, 1909 - Apr 19, 2001
Jan 8, 1918 - Feb 26, 2009
Nov 4, 1905 - April 1974
Sep 3, 1920 - Aug 1, 2006
Sep 2, 1914 - Feb 18, 1999

Other Bios

Aug 31, 1903 - Mar 16, 1983
1908 - Mar 27, 2002
Feb 5, 1919 - Unknown
Feb 26, 1916 - 1987
Jun 19, 1881 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
1870 - Unknown
Feb 24, 1831 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Sep 30, 1899 - Jan 19, 1959
April 1929 - Unknown
1811 - Unknown
Oct 1, 1924 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
- Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Success Stories from Biographies like Ed Sullivan
Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
Highlights of just a few of the many successes of sharing memories & family history at AncientFaces. From reuniting lost or 'orphan' photos with their families, seeing the faces of family for the first time, to connecting unknown and lost relatives.

These stories will warm your heart. Are you inspired to share photos and biographies of the people from your past?