What was Ed Sullivan's Net Worth and Salary?
Ed Sullivan was an American television personality, reporter, and syndicated columnist who had a net worth equal of $10 million at the time of his death. After adjusting for inflation that's the same as around $60 million in today's dollars. Ed Sullivan was best known as the creator and host of the CBS television variety program "The Ed Sullivan Show." Broadcast from 1948 to 1971, it set the record as the longest-running variety show in US television history, and created iconic moments for such famous musical acts as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Supremes. At the show's peak, 50 million viewers tuned in every week to watch his program. In terms of his personality, Sullivan was known for his stodgy demeanor, forgetfulness, and frequent crotchetiness. He worked as a columnist for the New York Daily News as well as the Chicago Tribute New York News Syndicate. Sullivan presented rock and roll acts as well as jazz, theater, and classical music. He appeared in more than 1,000 episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show and also served as executive producer. Sullivan won a Golden Globe Award in 1959 for Television Achievement and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, located at 6101 Hollywood Blvd. Ed Sullivan passed away on October 13, 1974 at that age of 73 from esophageal cancer.
Ed Sullivan was born on September 28, 1901 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City to Elizabeth and Peter. He had a twin brother named Daniel who only lived for a few months due to illness. Raised in Port Chester, New York, Sullivan grew up around music, with his parents often singing, tickling the ivories, or playing records on their prized phonograph. Outside of music, Sullivan was a skilled and eclectic athlete. At Port Chester High School, he played football, basketball, and baseball, and also did track sprints.
Career Beginnings in News Media
While still in high school, Sullivan landed his first job, writing for the local newspaper the Port Chester Daily Item. After he graduated, he joined the paper on a full-time basis. Sullivan went on to work for a number of other papers throughout the late 1910s and into the 20s, including the Hartford Post, the New York Evening Mail, the Associated Press, the Morning Telegraph, and the Leader. Finally, in 1927, he became a sports writer for the Evening Graphic, and then a sports editor. A couple of years after that, Sullivan became the Broadway columnist for the Daily Mirror. Leaving the Evening Graphic, he joined his largest paper yet: the New York Daily News.
Entry into Show Business
In the early 30s, Sullivan began reporting on show business on the radio. He went on to get into the business himself when he co-wrote and starred in the comedy film "Mr. Broadway" in 1933. Soon after that, he became an influential impresario in the entertainment world, launching the careers of many popular stars. Sullivan also produced and served as the emcee of various vaudeville shows. In 1941, he got his start on television as the host of the CBS variety show "Summer Silver Theater."
The Ed Sullivan Show
In 1948, Sullivan was hired by CBS to host a weekly television variety show on Sunday nights. Originally called "Toast of the Town," it was later renamed "The Ed Sullivan Show." Both Sullivan and the show itself were poorly received by television critics at first, with many noting that the host had little personality and an unwelcoming physical presence. However, audiences were more positive, believing that Sullivan was an average guy well suited to bringing famous show-business acts to their screens. Typical episodes of "The Ed Sullivan Show" featured vaudeville acts, comedians, singers, and theatrical actors. There was also the famed Topo Gigio, a mouse puppet designed for child viewers.
During its run from 1948 to 1971, "The Ed Sullivan Show" gave a platform to some of the world's most famous or soon-to-be famous musical acts. Elvis Presley made three appearances in 1956, and there were also pioneering appearances by such artists as Bo Diddley, the Platters, Fats Domino, Jackie Wilson, and the Supremes. Sullivan also featured numerous Nashville performers before country and western music had become mainstream on American television. The most iconic musical moment on "The Ed Sullivan Show," however, was the performance by the Beatles in February of 1964, before the band hit it big in the US. The episode became the most-watched piece of television in history at the time.
Ed Sullivan Show Salary and CBS Contract
In the early 1950s, Ed Sullivan was earning a salary of $164,000 per year. After adjusting for inflation that's the same as earning around $2 million per year in today's dollars. In 1954 Ed signed a 22-year contract extension with CBS that covered his hosting as well as producing duties.
Other Television Appearances
Sullivan made a number of other appearances on television outside of "The Ed Sullivan Show." In 1954, he co-hosted the musical special "General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein." Later in the decade, he played himself in an episode of the sitcom "Mr. Adams and Eve," and served as a mystery guest on the panel game show "What's My Line?" In the early 60s, Sullivan filled in for the titular star on "The Red Skelton Show."
Personal Life and Death
Earlier in his life, Sullivan was engaged to champion swimmer Sybil Bauer, who passed away in 1927 before they could get married. Three years after that, he wed Sylvia Weinstein, with whom he had a daughter named Elizabeth. The couple lived at the Hotel Astor on Times Square for several years, and then rented a suite of rooms at the Hotel Delmonico. They were always out and about, socializing with the rich and famous at trendy restaurants and clubs in New York City. In 1973, Sullivan's wife passed away from an aortic rupture.
A lifelong smoker, Sullivan was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in September of 1974 and was told he had little time to live. He passed away the following month at the age of 73.