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Sundays with Sullivan: How the Ed Sullivan Show Brought Elvis, the Beatles, and Culture to America Hardcover – December 16, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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...[P]ick up a copy of this book and give it to your grandparents as a gift… but do yourself a favor and read it first (just don't crack the spine, dummy, it's a present!). (Indie Street Radio)

From the Publisher

When forty-six-year-old Ed Sullivan -- a gossip columnist for the New York Daily News -- stepped on stage at CBS Television Studio for the first time in 1948, no one could imagine the great success that lay in store for The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan didn't sing, dance, or act, but he became one of the country's greatest showmen, hosting what would become television's longest running variety and music show.

For twenty-three years, from 1948 to 1971, The Ed Sullivan Show was America's premiere variety show, airing live every Sunday night. Sullivan used the one-hour program to bring stars of the entertainment world into living rooms across the nation, turning acts such as the Beatles and Elvis Presley into household names. But Sullivan certainly didn't limit his show to rock musicians. The performers featured on The Ed Sullivan Show were an eclectic array of talent that included everything from opera singers to dancing bears, high-wire walkers to classical violinists.

This book is an inside view of The Ed Sullivan Show and the unusual story of one of the most unlikely television stars who played host to such diverse talents as Van Cliburn, Rudolf Nureyev, Robert Goulet, Richard Pryor, and the Rolling Stones. With his distinctive nasal voice, Sullivan regularly promised audiences a "really big show" and delivered by offering up virtually every form of twentieth-century entertainment.

Bernie Ilson, one the most famous publicists in the field of public relations, and the press representative for the final eight years of The Ed Sullivan Show, gives the reader a unique inside view of the amazing newspaperman and television host, Ed Sullivan, who anticipated the interest of 35 million viewers each Sunday and presented them with the greatest talent in show business, week after week, for almost a quarter of a century. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (December 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589793900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589793903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For anyone who enjoyed "The Ed Sullivan Show" -- or who just wants to know more about one of television's historic successes -- this book is a gem. Full of backstage tidbits and inside info on Ed and his frequent guests. Wonderful vignettes about the early years of television from the perspective of a real insider.
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Format: Hardcover
A book for every generation --- those of us who remember our own family's Sundays with Sullivan; and the younger people who want to know more about how Elvis got his start and how The Beatles began. Ilson explains how Ed Sullivan brought the cultural world into the homes of people all across the U.S. who wouldn't otherwise have known the joys of Ballet, Opera, etc.
A great gift - filled with terrific photos.
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Format: Hardcover
Interesting to learn how Ed Sullivan grew from young sports reporter to a renowned TV impresario. What I found to be most fascinating was the operations of his press agent, Bernie Ilson, who is also the auther of this book. The many clear photos added much enjoyment and value in the reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Ilson shares what it's like to be behind the scenes of one of TV's icon shows. Like the PR pro that he is, Ilson's writing absolutely captures the no nonsense Ed Sullivan attitude and approach - simple, direct, very visual and well balanced. You feel like you are part of the planning and right there in the audience as Sullivan mixed the puppets with the opera and ballet stars; Broadway's best and the Beatles and Elvis - Sunday after Sunday for a quarter of a century. Now with the new Beatles video and remastering of their 15 albums,this book captures the moptops amazing New York appearances and their American success on the Sullivan Show. "Let's hear it" for Ilson and Sundays with Sullivan.
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Format: Paperback
As a Beatles writer and historian I was very familiar with the name of Ed Sullivan and have read numerous stories of how the Fab Four ended up appearing on his show and the impact of that appearance. But growing up in the UK I never actually saw the show itself (except through modern DVD releases) and had no first hand experience of its impact on the entertainment landscape. I was hoping that this book would provide me with more information and understanding of the show itself and its somewhat enigmatic host. Unfortunately that was not the case.

The book is derived from the author's PhD thesis, and at times reads like that, with lengthy interview extracts that should have been edited to make them more pertinent to the story being told. And perhaps that's where the main problem with the book lies, author Bernie Ilson may have been Ed Sullivan's top public relations guru, but, based on this book, he is not a natural story teller. The narrative is very disjointed and makes sudden jumps without explanation. In fact big chunks of the story are missing. Most of the book's interest hinges on Ilson's own personal anecdotes of encounters with various guests and celebrities rather than any explanation or real examination of the show's growth and ultimate demise as the networks and advertisers shifted towards a younger target demographic ( a point raised and discussed by a TV network executive in one of the tacked on interviews rather than by the author himself in the main body of the text.)

By the end of the book I didn't really know much more about Sullivan himself that I hadn't gleaned from other sources. I would have expected a more in depth examination of his drives and methodology from someone who worked alongside him for so long.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I had high hopes for this book, it failed to measure up with better histories of the Ed Sullivan Show. The author admits that the book grew out of his Ph.D thesis, which is one of its shortcomings--the book is shallow, choppy, and clinical, as it winds its way through a discussion of the Ed Sullivan Show's effect on culture in America. For a better examination of Ed Sullivan and the contemporary world around him, I would look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Being an unabashed fan of the Ed Sullivan Show and its history, I was disappointed that this "insider's" account of the Ed Sullivan Show was so superficial. This book uncovers no new ground, except some perspectives around the show's cancellation. Other than that, there is little to recommend this book as it approaches its subject matter at such a high level that one gains no new insights whatsoever.
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Format: Hardcover
A UNIQUE AND PENETRATING PORTRAIT:

Two of the previous reviewers are very unfair to Bernie Ilson's superb book
about Ed Sullivan, "Sundays With Sullivan." As Sullivan's press
representative, Ilson had personal access to him and creates a human and
insightful portrait of the genius behind TV's longest running variety show.
Ilson provides cultural context, perspective and personal insight into the
reasons for Sullivan's extraordinary impact despite his wooden TV
personality. His program opened up opportunities for a mix of both popular
and operatic artists, acrobats, jugglers and the greatest actors of the
theater, and for the Beatles and Robert Merrill, the Rolling Stones and
Rudolf Nureyev, Richard Pryor and Jimmy Durante. Strolling together around
the Manhattan he loved with Ilson while carefully planning each show,
Sullivan captured the cultural heartbeat of the times, creating a time
capsule that will be forever valuable. Ilson was the consummate show
business insider, and his portrait of an enigmatic and powerful, tough and
generous figure who had the vision and sense to combine "high" and popular
art in an updated vaudeville setting, is unique and penetrating. Ilson gives
Sullivan the recognition he has long deserved. This is the definitive
portrait of Ed Sullivan. It explains his enduring impact on American culture
and entertainment.

David Evanier
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