The Ed Sullivan Show

Edward Vincent “Ed” Sullivan (September 28th, 1901 – October 13th, 1974) was an American entertainment writer and television host, best known as the presenter of the television variety program The Toast of the Town, now usually remembered under its second name, The Ed Sullivan Show.  Broadcast for 23 years from 1948 to 1971, it set a record for longest-running variety show in US broadcast history.

After saying he would never have Elvis Presley on his show because of his bad-boy style, he became too big of a name to ignore and Sullivan scheduled him for 3 appearances.  Though Sullivan missed introducing him the 1st time, due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident, he later told his audience, “this is a real decent, fine boy.”

Ed Sullivan was always determined to get the next big sensation first.  In 1964, he achieved that with the first live American appearance of The Beatles, on February 9th, 1964, the most-watched program in TV history to that point and still one of the most-watched programs of all time.

The Doors were notorious for their appearance on the show.  CBS network censors demanded that lead singer Jim Morrison change the lyrics to their hit single Light My Fire by altering the line, “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher”, before the band performed the song live on September 17th, 1967.  The lyric was to have been changed to, “Girl, we couldn’t get much better”.  Morrison suggested they change it to, “Girl, you couldn’t bite my wire”.  However, Morrison sang the original line, and on live television with no delay, CBS was powerless to stop it.  A furious Sullivan refused to shake the band members’ hands, and they were never invited back to the show.

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