Ed Sullivan Show: Guest Stars and Greatest Moments


By: Bambi Turner

5 Min Quiz

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

Ed Sullivan provided a platform for the entertainment industry for 23 years, hosting the hottest performers in music, film and stage. His iconic show ran from 1948 to 1971, witnessing the end of vaudeville, the birth of rock and roll, and the launch of some of history's biggest stars. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the most memorable moments of "The Ed Sullivan Show

What year did The Beatles make their first appearance on the show?

In one of the show's most frenzied moments, the mop-topped Beatles hit the Ed Sullivan stage for the first time on February 9, 1964. More than 73 million people -- 45 percent of households -- tuned in to watch.


What was the first song The Beatles sang on the show?

The Beatles opened the show with "All My Loving," before moving onto hits like "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."


How many times did The Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan in total?

The band appeared for three consecutive Sundays in early 1964, then for a fourth and final time on September 12, 1965 -- just before the show made the switch from black and white to color.


What Broadway show had the misfortune of appearing right after The Beatles made their first appearance on the show?

The cast of "Oliver!" and Broadway star Georgia Brown had their work cut out for them trying to be heard over hundreds of screaming Beatles fans between sets of Beatles' songs on the show.


Elvis only appeared on the show from the waist up to hide his swiveling hips.

Elvis appeared from toe to head on his first two Ed Sullivan appearances. It wasn't until heavy protests from church leaders that Sullivan decided to only show Elvis from the waist up during his third appearance on the show.


How much did Elvis earn for his first three Ed Sullivan appearances?

Elvis earned a cool $50,000 for his first three appearances on the show, starting on September 9, 1956.


What percent of households tuned in to watch Elvis on his first Sullivan show appearance?

Sixty million viewers -- 80 percent of households -- tuned into see Elvis croon songs like "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender" in the mid-1950s.


Why did Sullivan miss Elvis' first appearance on the show?

After a bad car accident, Sullivan was forced to miss Presley's first appearance on the show. Actor Charles Laughton hosted the show that night instead and referred to Elvis as Elvin.


What kind of creature was Topo Gigio?

In an effort to draw in young viewers, Sullivan encouraged frequent appearances by Topo Gigio -- a mouse puppet that was popular in Italy at the time.


How many puppeteers were needed to operate Topo Gigio?

It took four puppeteers to move the tiny 10-inch puppet. Hidden behind a black curtain, they would move the creature's mouth, arms and legs to give him a realistic vibe.


What word got The Doors banned from the show?

After being instructed to omit the word "higher" from "Light My Fire," Jim Morrison went on to sing the song as written, getting The Doors banned from the show after one performance in 1967.


What year did Rodney Dangerfield make his Ed Sullivan debut?

Comic favorite Rodney Dangerfield appeared on Ed Sullivan 17 times between his debut in March 1967 and the show's final episode in 1971.


The first song this band performed on the show was a Chuck Berry classic.

Instead of one of their own hit tunes, The Stones chose to open their first Ed Sullivan performance with a cover of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around." They closed their October 1964 debut with "Time is on My Side."


What year did Janis Joplin make her Ed Sullivan debut?

Joplin hit the Ed Sullivan stage with her Kozmic Blues Band on March 16, 1969. The soulful singer gave a spirited rendition of "Raise Your Hand," followed by "Maybe, Maybe, Maybe."


What singer wore a purple cowboy hat for his Ed Sullivan debut?

When performing "I Want You Back" and "Who's Loving You?" and others with the rest of the Jackson 5 on December 14, 1969, a young Michael Jackson famously wore a purple cowboy hat.


What legendary crooner appeared on the very first episode of Ed Sullivan?

The premiere episode of the Ed Sullivan show in 1948 featured appearances by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, along with Broadway icons Rodgers and Hammerstein.


What did Senor Wences do for his Ed Sullivan act?

Master puppeteer Senor Wences appeared on the show with his favorite puppet Johnny more than 20 times between 1950 and the 1971.


Joan Rivers first big break on the show was as a writer.

Though she would later be known for her standup, Rivers actually got her foot in the door on Ed Sullivan by writing silly skits for Topo Gigio.


Ed Sullivan was forced to allow Joan Rivers to perform on the show.

After mistakenly announcing Joan Rivers instead of Johnny Rivers as a performer on next week's show, Sullivan was forced to let Rivers perform. She must have done a good job, because she quickly became a regular on the program.


What year did The Supremes appear on the show for the first time?

The talented trio performed "Come See About Me" for their December 27, 1964 Ed Sullivan debut. They returned in 1966 to perform "You Can't Hurry Love."


What band performed a crossover routine with The Supremes in 1967?

The Ed Sullivan show left people talking after a November 19, 1967, episode, in which The Supremes and The Temptations took turns performing each other's greatest hits.


Which guest had the greatest number of appearances on Ed Sullivan?

The honor of appearing on the Ed Sullivan show more than any other act goes to Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Schuster, who hit the Ed Sullivan stage a record 58 times.


What talent did frequent guest Rickie Layne bring to the show?

Rickie Layne appeared on the show 39 times, performing ventriloquism with his dummy Velvel.


How old was Stevie Wonder the first time he appeared on Ed Sullivan?

The young prodigy was just 13 years old in 1964, when he captured hearts with his rendition of "Fingertips Part 2" on the popular program.


What color was the Muppet Grover the first time he appeared on Ed Sullivan?

Grover started as a green puppet named Gleep when he hit the stage for the first time in 1967. The Muppets would go on to appear on Ed Sullivan 25 times, and some puppets, including Big Bird, were introduced for the first time ever on the show.


What was the name of the bicycle-riding chimp on the show?

After hitting it big on Howdy Doody, Zippy the Chimp appeared on Ed Sullivan a number of times, doing everything from roller skating to riding a bike.


Which comedian made his Ed Sullivan debut on May 5, 1965?

The legendary Richard Pryor made audiences crack up during 15 appearances on Ed Sullivan, starting with his debut in May 1965.


This comedian called her Ed Sullivan debut one of the two hardest experiences of her life.

Carol Burnett admitted she was terrified when she first did stand up on Ed Sullivan in 1957, but she still returned to perform on the show four more times.


Who was the final musical guest to appear on the show?

Gladys Knight and the Pips were the final musical guests to appear on Ed Sullivan, performing on the final episode on June 6, 1971.


What was the original title of the show?

From its debut until 1955, the show was called "Toast of the Town." The title was changed in 1955 to reflect the name of its famous host.


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