The Ed Sullivan Show stands as one of the most iconic variety TV shows ever created. The show ran from 1948 to 1971 and featured many notable performers who attained an immense amount of fame afterward. As for the host, Ed Sullivan, he was known for his slightly awkward — yet endearing — hosting abilities.
However, it seems one regular on the show said Sullivan once almost slapped him across the face. Here’s what happened.
Alan King became one of Ed Sullivan’s favorite guests on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
A number of famous comedians stepped foot on The Ed Sullivan Show, and Alan King was one of them. King got his career start doing stand-up at New York City night clubs, and he then moved into appearing on TV shows, The Ed Sullivan Show site notes. And after he had his first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, his career took new heights.
King’s first appearance on the show wasn’t fully planned out, either. Victor Borge canceled, and because King was local, he was called in by Sullivan as a replacement, as the two knew each other for years prior. When King finally made his debut on the variety series, he impressed Sullivan with jokes about marriage, his living situation, and society at large.
Between 1956 and 1969, King performed on the show 50 times — and the people loved him. But King joked about his success. “I guess I wasn’t funny enough to get on the show until the 1950s,” the comedian said in an interview.
King said Sullivan once came close to ‘slapping’ him
It seems Sullivan and King built up quite a good relationship over the years, but several reports suggest Sullivan wasn’t always easy to get along with. The host worked hard on perfecting his show, and this meant his anger could flare and get the best of him.
According to Vanity Fair, King once described Sullivan as, “my best friend but worst enemy.” While the show helped launch King to fame, he also took his talents elsewhere and appeared on The Garry Moore Show. This, of course, caused some bad blood.
“Ed literally came close to slapping me in the face at Danny’s Hideaway,” King said. “He called me a traitor. … For five years, Ed didn’t talk to me.”
Despite the controversy, King knew his typical good standing with Sullivan helped him immensely throughout the years. “I was working Vegas for a thousand dollars, I went on The Ed Sullivan Show — the next time I got $2,500,” he explained. “Every time I went on the Sullivan show, my price went up.”
Sullivan had a number of feuds with guests on the show
The Ed Sullivan Show found great success thanks to Sullivan’s hustle, but he certainly made enemies out of a number of amazing artists we still know today. The Doors were banned from the show after a dispute over lyrics. The Rolling Stones faced similar difficulties.
Sullivan got into a huge blowout with comedian Jackie Mason, too. According to Sullivan, Mason gave him the finger on the air, which he called an “obscene gesture.” Mason claimed he never did such a thing — and the cameras proved Mason was in the right. While Sullivan later apologized, it nearly destroyed Mason’s career.
“It basically destroyed my career for at least 10, 15 years,” Mason said, according to Vanity Fair. “Because in those days, if you had an image of a filthy person, you were wiped out. Today, if you have an image as a filthy person, you become a sensation.”
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