Archive for the ‘"Ed Sullivan Show"’ Category

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!”

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The February 9, 1964 audience of The Ed Sullivan Show got the treat of a lifetime. On the stage that night, John, Paul, George and Ringo performed for the first time ever on live, American television. You’ve seen the footage – the matching dark suits, the screaming teenage fans, the coordinated bows at the end of each song … It’s still mesmerizing 48 years later:

Several of our interviewees were present at the legendary performance. Director John Moffitt was the Assistant Director on The Ed Sullivan Show at the time:

And Talent Coordinator Vince Calandra booked the Fab Four on the show:

Gotta love those lads from Liverpool! Read more about The Beatles’ performance on our Ed Sullivan Show page.

If Hips Could Kill: Elvis’ Lower Half is Censored on “The Ed Sullivan Show”

Friday, January 6th, 2012

55 years ago today, on January 6, 1957, Elvis Presley’s hips were deemed too hot for TV by The Ed Sullivan Show. Elvis had already appeared on the program twice before, in all of his hip-shaking glory, but on his third appearance he was shot only from the waist up. Of course, just by listening to his screaming fans, you can (thankfully) still tell when he gyrates:

More memorable moments from The Ed Sullivan Show here

New Video: Excerpts from Eartha Kitt’s Archive Interview

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

By now you’ve probably heard that the great performer and legendary songstress (and one of Batman’s three “Catwoman”), Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day, 2008 at the age of 81. The Archive of American Television was privileged to interview Ms. Kitt about her television work in 2002. In memoriam, here are some excerpts from the interview:


Eartha Kitt
(1927-2008) was interviewed for nearly an hour-and-a-half in New York, NY. Kitt briefly talked about her early stage work in New York and abroad, and her opinions regarding a performer’s relationship with the audience. She described appearing on “live” television in New York in the 1950s, on such series as Omnibus and The Ed Sullivan Show. She discussed the difficulties faced by African-Americans regarding their appearances on television. She discussed her work in filmed television, including guest shots on such series as Mission: Impossible, I Spy, and Batman (as one of the more memorable actresses who played “Catwoman”). The interview was conducted by Michael Rosen on October 15, 2002.

"The Ed Sullivan Show" Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary– Stiller & Meara Interview Now Online

Friday, June 27th, 2008

The Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday night fixture from the moment most Americans bought their first television sets through 1971, when, after 1,087 shows over 23 years, it went off the air on May 30th.

Ed Sullivan was a columnist for the New York Daily News, and despite what many considered an awkward stage presence, he became a television star, memorable for the immortal line, “we’ve got a really big shew.” Sullivan was voted one of the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All-Time by TV Guide in 1996. They described him thusly: “Sullivan’s puckered syntax was an impressionist’s delight, and his body language was so tense and herky-jerky he made Richard Nixon seem like Nureyev…. [but he] was, for all intents and purposes, nothing less than America’s minister of culture.”

The Ed Sullivan Show indeed saw a myriad of the top talent of the day appear on its stage. For every novelty act there was the greatest classical, comedy, stage, or musical performer. Possibly the most famous appearance in the show’s history occurred on February 9, 1964— when the Beatles made their American television debut.

The Ed Sullivan Show was initially called The Toast of the Town (its name through 1955) when it debuted on June 20, 1948. Among the guests were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Variety noted “CBS was guilty again, however, of permitting them to give out with some blue material, okay for their nitery work but certainly not for the tele.”

A fixture of the show in its earliest broadcasts were the June Taylor Dancers. So famed did the June Taylor Dancers become, that when the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences first bestowed an Emmy Award for Best Choreography, in 1953, it was June Taylor who won (for The Jackie Gleason Show).

The Archive of American Television has interviewed many individuals who worked in front of and behind-the-scenes on The Ed Sullivan Show. Among those interviewees are: choreographer June Taylor, talent booker Vince Calandra, and director John Moffitt; among the performers: Marge Champion, Mike Douglas, Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara, and Andy Williams.

Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara were interviewed separately about their extensive television careers and together to discuss their collaborative work— notably as guests 36 times on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Interview Description for Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara:

Stiller and Meara described how they met as working actors in New York City. They talked about getting together as an act and their many appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. They described their comedy routines and the interaction they had with Ed Sullivan himself. Stiller talked about his notable work in such long form productions as Seize the Day. He then spoke in detail about the role for which he is most associated, “Frank Costanza” on Seinfeld, as well as his regular appearance as “Arthur Spooner” on The King of Queens. For these series he gave his impressions of working with the regular cast members and for Seinfeld he talked about such notable epsiodes as “The Doorman,” “The Fusilli Jerry,” and “The Strike.” Meara talked about her later work that included the regular role of “Veronica Rooney” on Archie Bunker’s Place and a recurring role on HBO’s Sex and the City.

Comedian George Carlin Has Died — Archive Interview Excerpt Online

Monday, June 23rd, 2008


George Carlin, whose career as a stand-up comedian is legendary, but who also appeared on his own sitcom and was the very first host of Saturday Night Live, has died at the age of 71. He is a five-time Emmy nominee for his specials and received Daytime Emmy nominations for the children’s show Shining Time Station.

The Archive interviewed Carlin just last December; his interview can be viewed at Academy headquarters and an excerpt is viewable online here.

Full interview description:

Comedian George Carlin described his early comedic talents and how, as a teenager, he would record bits on a tape recorder and play them back for friends. He talked about his influences from the movies (particularly Danny Kaye’s films) and early television (such as the variety series Broadway Open House) on his comic sensibilities. He then chronicled his early life through the Air Force, as a disk jockey, and as half of a comedy team with Jack Burns, that led to his first professional appearance on television on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show. He noted the various “breaks” along the way that got him seen and furthered his career. He talked about going solo and working as a stand-up comedian for several years before he got back into making television appearances on such programs as The Ed Sullivan Show. He spoke in detail about his infamous “Seven Dirty Words” monologue and the FCC case that resulted from it (filed against WBAI radio, for obscenity). He recalled his appearance as the very first host of Saturday Night Live. He talked about his HBO specials and how they resurrected his career. He touched on his later work as an actor in Kevin Smith’s movies and on such shows as the PBS series Shining Time Station, which earned him two Daytime Emmy nominations as Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series.

Emmy magazine features interviewee Paris Barclay

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Pick up the latest copy of emmy to read an excerpt from our interview with television director Paris Barclay, where he discusses his early experiences in theater and music videos, through his acclaimed work over the last two decades in television drama. He comments on his work as a guest director on a number of drama series in the mid-90s, notably ER and speaks in great detail about his extensive work as a director of the police drama NYPD Blue and the political drama The West Wing. Johnson was interviewed for the Archive last year by Karen Herman. For more information about our interviews and to view many online, click here!

Additionally, Archive interview Vince Calandra was featured in emmy’s article about the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, “You Say You Want a Revolution.” Calandra was a talent coordinator for the show when the Beatles made their historic appearance.