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This Day in Music History: The Ed Sullivan Show Gets Cancelled

written by: on March 15, 2012

On March 15, 1971, CBS announced that it was cancelling The Ed Sullivan Show. The variety show aired for twenty three years – making it the longest running show in television history.

The CBS primetime comedic variety show was hosted by none other than Ed Sullivan. Unlike the majority of television hosts Sullivan was not an entertainer, comedian or actor but a newspaper columnist. The Ed Sullivan Show featured performers, dancers, comedians, ventriloquists and a massive amount of other talents, living up to its title as a ‘variety’ show. The show earned notoriety for its wide range of acts but the musical performances are arguably what gave the show its magic.

Throughout its nearly quarter of a century run The Ed Sullivan Show hosted everyone from Louis Armstrong to the Doors. In September 1956 Elvis Presley’s performance of “Hound Dog,” “Love Me Tender,” and “Don’t be Cruel” catapulted his career. The Beatles made their national American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Over forty years after its final airing the Ed Sullivan show holds a special place in the heart of American television lovers.

The Ed Sullivan Show‘s influence as a platform for musicians sculpted the role of a musician on television and its fingerprints are still found on shows like Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

  • Frank Kling

    Why was the show cancelled? As I recall, the show remained popular all the way until the end so we were surprised back in 1971 why it went off the air and still don’t know why.