As one columnist once quipped, Ed Sullivan got where he was not by having a personality, but by having no personality. But Old Stone Face presided for more than 20 years over one of the most popular and influential shows ever to grace the small screen. Originally called Toast of the Town, people had been calling it The Ed Sullivan Show for years before the official title change in 1955.

From My Fair Lady and Man of La Mancha to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Sullivan lived up to his reputation as a star maker. Even those who failed to stay in Sullivan’s good graces still knew the power of just one appearance. When The Doors sang the original lyrics to “Light My Fire” (instead of a cleaner, gentler version) they were told they’d never do the show again. To which Jim Morrison famously replied: “So what? We just did the Ed Sullivan Show.”

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