Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Really Big "Shew" (6/20/06)

From June 20, 1949, until June 6, 1971, Americans had an unbreakable Sunday night ritual: to gather around the TV set and watch "The Ed Sullivan Show." Sullivan was the unlikeliest of television hosts. A former gossip columnist, he was stiff and uncharismatic (which was heaven for such impressionists as Will Jordan), but a shrewd judge of talent. Among the performers who made their TV debuts on Sullivan's "really big 'shew'" were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Señor Wences, and Topo Gigio. On February 9, 1964, the country came to a standstill as some 73 million people watched The Beatles. As big as that broadcast was, Sullivan's claim to immortality may be the musical "Bye Bye Birdie." More than 30 years after his death, hardly a week goes by when a group of high-school students doesn't sing his praises in the "Hymn for a Sunday Evening."

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