I bet you remember the Ed Sullivan Show. It ran from 1948-1971. Every Sunday night,
it was a ritual. Who would be on next? The whole world was in your living room. There
were opera singers, ballet dancers, circus acts, popular artists, comedians, and much much more.
Other than the guests, there was that little Italian mouse, Topo Gigio. How can anyone forget him? The Ed Sullivan Show was the first exposure for foreign performers to the American public.
What a ritual that show was for American families gathered around he television screen.
We had loads of snacks and just waited for the show to air.
I remember watching Elvis for the first time. I sat there with a mouth full of unchewed and unswallowed popcorn fixated to the TV screen. I don't think I even said one word. I was either in shock or in love.
At first, Ed Sullivan vowed never to have Elvis on his show. He didn't want to have him in front of a family audience. He changed his mind, though, realizing his ratings would go down. But even then, he only wanted Elvis to be shown from the waist up. That didn't happen, as his gyrating body was shown as big as life. I couldn't speak.
In 1964, I got to see the Beatles for the first time. The audience were hysterical screaming teenagers. That show was thought to have 73 million viewers.
Ed really had it together. There were very few opportunities for African-American performers on national television at that time. He was the champion of black talent and launched many careers by presenting them to national TV. There was no bigotry on that show and we got to see great singers. Some of them were the Supremes, Pearl Baily, Harry Belafonte, James Brown and a whole lot more.
There isn't any show today that compares. Thank you Ed! And now, right here on our stage, it's a really big shoe!