The Ed Sullivan Show is one of the most iconic variety shows to ever hit American television — and host Ed Sullivan’s personality certainly helped. The show ran from 1948 to 1971, and a wealth of memorable musical guests made live appearances.
One famous and much-loved musician was just starting his performance on the show when he was unexpectedly cut off. And Sullivan later apologized for the incident. Here’s what occurred.
Ed Sullivan was incredibly dedicated to the success of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
Sullivan changed TV forever with The Ed Sullivan Show, and it certainly wasn’t an easy road to get where he got.
Back in 1948, CBS hired Sullivan to host their variety show, The Toast of the Town, The Ed Sullivan Show site reports. And Sullivan immediately got to work finding talent for the series — but his hosting abilities were under fire. Critics called him wooden and awkward, but the show was endearing to fans, so it kept going.
By 1955, the name of the show changed to The Ed Sullivan Show. And it started breaking records in 1956. More viewers were watching than ever before, and it was attracting serious talent. Ultimately, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and plenty of other iconic superstars had their time to shine on the show. The Beatles’ performance was so memorable in the ’60s that it became one of the first times Americans were exposed to the classic artists — and we know the rest is history.
Musician Sam Cooke was cut off on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
Sam Cooke had his time to shine on The Ed Sullivan Show, too. History notes the singer got his start with gospel, but he later became one of the most iconic “soul” music singers from his early 20s. In 1956, he started creating classic hits we still listen to today. And he also caught the attention of Sullivan.
According to The Ed Sullivan Show site, Cooke was scheduled to sing on the show on Nov. 3, 1957 — and he was the last act of the night. Cooke confidently took the stage when it was his turn, and he began singing one of his hits. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before he was cut off. The show ran over time, and because it was filmed live, this resulted in Cooke getting cut off completely despite having a stellar performance prepared.
Sullivan publicly apologized over the incident
It wasn’t Cooke’s fault that the show ran over, so Sullivan did his best to right the wrongs. The singer returned to the stage just a few days after the initial disaster in 1957. “Sam, here’s the time,” Sullivan said as Cooke took the stage to perform a stripped-down version of “You Send Me.”
After Cooke’s successful performance, Sullivan acknowledged what happened in the past. “I did wrong one night here on our stage,” Sullivan said on the show. “And I never received so much mail in my life!” Cooke took the stage once again to sing another soul classic.
In the end, it all worked out for the best. Cooke’s “You Send Me” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 after his performance.
Because Cooke died in 1964, his performance on The Ed Sullivan Show stands as one of his only ones that are still existing on tape today. And while Sullivan isn’t alive today, fans still adore the performances his show brought to the small screen.
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