For those of us of a certain age, The Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday-night institution. Airing at 8 pm on CBS, the show featured everyone’s favorite host (with his signature pronunciation of “show” as “shoe”) introducing us each week to a variety of entertainment. There was always a singer or two (big names at the time like Tony Bennett and Judy Garland), at least one stand-up comic (where I learned to appreciate the razor-sharp wit of Mort Sahl and George Carlin), and cutting-edge music including Elvis (the cameras weren’t allowed to show his swiveling hips), the Beatles, of course (everyone conscious then remembers their US debut on the show), and the Rolling Stones (is it possible that Mick Jagger was ever that young?). There was also the inevitable acrobat act, the requisite plate balancers and spinners, and, of course, the world’s most lovable mouse (sorry Mickey) — a puppet character from Italian and Spanish television named Topo Gigio, who ended each appearance with an endearing, “Kiss me good night, Eddie.”
The Ed Sullivan Show was an hour of peace in an era of national turmoil; it was a soothing escape from the riots, the assassinations, and the war that tore this country apart in the 1960s. And while the show seems hokey today (variety shows having long since given way to reality TV in all its variations), it provided much-needed comfort in the midst of so much revolution.
All in all, pretty big “shoes” to fill.
© 2012 Claudia Grossman