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Final Ed Sullivan Show - 1971 The Ed Sullivan Show (called The Toast of the Town until 1955) debuted on CBS on June 20, 1948. The first season it aired live on Sundays from 9 to 10 p.m. For the next 22 years it aired on Sundays from 8 to 9 p.m. and became a television staple and a cultural institution. Fondly remembered, The Ed Sullivan Show is arguably the most important entertainment program in television history as it showcased the world's best singers, dancers, actors, musicians, magicians, circus acts, and comedians. (Many classic Broadway performances exist today solely because they were preserved on The Ed Sullivan Show.) Despite Ed's obvious shortcomings as a television host--he was extremely "wooden" as an emcee--the appeal of the show was that it provided something for everybody. One critic aptly declared, "Ed Sullivan can't sing, dance or tell jokes--but he knows who can!" By 1971 The Ed Sullivan Show was in decline, however. Ratings were still generally good, but the all-important demographics showed that younger viewers were no longer watching in sizable numbers. Accordingly CBS unceremoniously applied the ax. The last live show aired on Sunday, March 28, 1971. The performers on that final Sunday were folk singer Melanie; singing duo Tony Sandler & Ralph Young; Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass; mezzo-soprano Joanna Simon; impressionist David Frye; comedian Joey Adams; comedy duo Norman Wisdom and Tony Fane; comedian Lennie Schultz; and sleight-of-hand artist Vic Perry. Sullivan, who hoped to extend his show to at least 25 seasons, had no inkling the March 28, 1971 broadcast would be the last show, so there was no grand finale or tearful farewell. Reruns continued through June 6, 1971. The Ed Sullivan Show was replaced by the CBS Sunday Evening Movie--which lasted just one season. From all accounts, the cancellation of the show deeply affected Sullivan's health and well being. He began exhibiting signs of senility. Paul McCartney recalled encountering Sullivan about a year after the show's cancellation and Sullivan had no idea who McCartney was. Joan Rivers had a similar experience. Sullivan died on October 13, 1974--which was a Sunday--just a few months after being diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer. He was 73 years old.
Tags: Ed  Sullivan  Show  finale  1971 
Added: 27th February 2014
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Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Classico on 2014-03-11 

Sullivan also wrote a column in the NY Daily News which I used to readily occasionally. A true New Yorker who will never be forgotten.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2014-03-11 
I believe Ed Sullivan was initially hired to host Toast of the Town because he was a reporter who covered Broadway. Therefore he had the connections and leverage to get first-rate acts to appear on the show.

Ed Sullivan was lucky he broke into TV when he did. He became an irreplacebale TV institution despite his undeniable wooden onscreen personality. His lack of charisma would likely have kept him off TV had he tried to break into the medium even a decade later.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2014-03-11 
I also found it telling that Ed Sullivan's health went downhill so quickly after hs show was axed. Many people who lead busy lives are completely lost when they suddenly have nothing to do when their jobs end. Idleness often affects both their states of physical and mental health. Sullivan seems to be a good example of this trend.
Posted by: Pfc on 2014-03-12 
You're right Classico I totally forgot about that!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2014-06-20 
Today is the 66th anniversary of the first broadcast. One of the headliners that night is still alive: Jerry Lewis.
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