A walk-through of the TV show's famous moments
Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

1932 – The Star Maker is Born: Edward Vincent Sullivan, age 29, hosts a couple of radio shows at CBS (first Broadway’s Greatest Thrills then Ed Sullivan Entertains), moves his influential show-biz column from the defunct New York Graphic to the Daily News, where it will appear until his death.

1939 – Hollywood, Take 1: Sullivan writes gangland melodrama Big Town Czar for Universal. Eve Arden, Barton MacLane star. Ed plays a sort of Geek Chorus: an influential, awkward newspaper columnist. Notes The New York Times: ”The only word for Ed Sullivan’s portrayal of Ed Sullivan is ‘unconvincing.”’

June 20, 1948 – Please Welcome: Ed’s Toast of the Town debuts on six TV stations. First show has Martin and Lewis, singing fire fighter John Kokoman, dancing Toastettes. By year’s end, show is No. 1 in New York and Philly.

October 1949 – Let’s Hear It: Toast is No. 2 in national ratings, Variety says. Will be in top 20 Nielsens for 14 of 21 seasons.

Dec. 31, 1950 – S’alright? S’alright!: Ventriloquist Senor Wences debuts.

Sept. 18, 1955 – Edification: Toast becomes The Ed Sullivan Show. In October, Ed is on TIME.

Jan. 6, 1957 – Return to Censor: Presley, in third appearance, is seen only from torso up, due to fear of outcry over hip wagging.

May 4, 1958 – Not Wayne & Garth: Canadian comics Wayne & Shuster debut as highest-paid guests to date, topping Elvis’ $50,000. Will appear more than 50 times, then fade into obscurity.

Jan. 11, 1959 – Fideling Around: During Castro coup, Ed pulls off his own coup: one of the first interviews with Cuban leader, filmed in Cuba. Fidel snookers Ed, saying he’s Catholic, not Communist.

August 1959 – Moscow on the Hudson: Ed goes deeper into red when Ed Sullivan visits U.S.S.R. — the first U.S. variety show seen by Soviet public.

1963 – Hollywood, Take 2: Ed escapes critical bashing, plays self in Bye Bye Birdie, which has ”Hymn” to Ed.

April 14, 1963 – Topo Gigio-mania! The mouse debuts.

Feb. 9, 1964 – Hold Their Hands: Acrobats Wells and the Four Fays have worst gig in history — following the Beatles. Some 73 million Americans watch the moptops.

Oct. 18, 1964 – Finger Man: When Ed motions him to close his act, Jackie Mason thumbs nose and mimics Ed’s gestures. Unfortunately for Mason’s career, Sullivan sees only one finger, next day condemns Mason in the media. Later, Sullivan publicly apologizes.

Dec. 10, 1967 – Marquee de Sullivan: CBS Studio 50, show’s home since ’53, is renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater.

June 6, 1971 – Old and in the Way: Worried because show increasingly appeals to older viewers, CBS pulls plug, last Sullivan airs. Ed will host specials, including 25th-anniversary show in 1973.

Oct. 13, 1974 – Ed Sullivan dies of esophageal cancer at age 72.