Ed Sullivan's show reigned on Sunday night television for more than two decades. He was as much a part of television as the rabbit ears on the TV set.
From the opening show of "Toast of the Town" in 1948 until CBS reluctantly dropped the program — renamed "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1955 — when Sullivan quit in 1971, his name and Sunday night were synonymous in millions of homes.
Although the popularity of his vaudeville dropped off in big cities in the latter years, he never lost his appeal to mid-America.
Over the decades, Sullivan, a poker-faced newspaper columnist, introduced such entertainers as the Beatles, Jackie Gleason and Elvis Presley to American viewers.
Although most of his fame came from television, he was a pioneer in broadcast variety shows, starting with his first radio show in 1930 and moving to CBS two years later with a program called "Broadway's Greatest Thrills."
His stiff manner, halting delivery and habit of pronouncing show as "shew" made Sullivan, as master of ceremonies, as much a personality as the guest entertainers themselves.