Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ed Sullivan - In Disguise (1958)

I thought it would be fun tonight to turn the tables around a bit in salute to Ed Sullivan. Here, on "What's My Line" from 1958, Ed appears in a mask and with a muffled voice, confusing the panel which has just heard him come into the studio to a hero's welcome. Indeed the first question concerns whether or not  he "has a hit record" out. At that point the panelists were all probably thinking Elvis Presley.

This was Ed's 10th year on television, as host of "Toast of the Town", which was renamed the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. I'm not sure why they refer to it by the former name here, but Ed owned Sunday nights from 8 PM to 9 PM for several decades, spanning all the changes taking place in America. His show was common ground for families on Sunday nights because he had something for everyone.

What makes this clip so much fun to watch is how this man; who entertained all of America for so many years; keeps denying that he is an entertainer, which he was not. But his ability as a showman, with his normally dour persona, is unchallenged in television history. And this is a very human look at one of TV's most endurable icons.

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