Ed Sullivan

(1901 – 1974)

Ed Sullivan was a television host whose hugely popular variety show — The Ed Sullivan Show, which broadcast from 1948 to 1971 — was an important outlet for many early Rock and Roll acts. Artists who appeared on the show during its long tenure ran from Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley to the Doors and Janis Joplin to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson.

The most notable musical moment in the show's history was the Beatles' appearance on February 9, 1964, which a full-on cultural event credited with sending Beatlemania into high gear in the U.S. The program — a seminal moment for many American teens who were inspired to pick up guitars by the appearance — was the most watched program in history to that point, and remains one of the most watched programs of all time. Elvis Presleys three appearances on the show, from September 1956 to January 1957, are credited with helping Presley break into the mainstream.

Sullivan defied social pressure to exclude black performers from his show. The Supremes were favorite and frequent guests, appearing 17 times. Many other Motown acts were featured, such as the Temptations, Gaye and Martha and the Vandellas. Sullivan also featured the Jackson 5, who sang their first single "I Want You Back" in 1969.

Declining fortunes forced the show off the air in 1971. Sullivan died from esophageal cancer in 1974.