Imagine seeing The Beatles, Richard Pryor, Elvis Presley, Joan Rivers and Señor Wences all on the same bill. Talk about one really big shoo!
Come Sept. 4, you’ll be able to catch all of those acts in one episode, along with everyone’s favorite Italian mouse, Topo Gigio, when “The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show” premieres on Decades (Ch. 112 on Optimum). Two back-to-back half-hours airing at noon, 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekdays will features classic performances from Sullivan’s variety show, a Sunday-night staple from 1948 to 1971. Here are four of the show’s most memorable guests.
Elvis Presley (Sept. 9, 1956)
WHAT HE SANG Presley performed “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog” and “Ready Teddy” from Hollywood.
INTRO “Away to Hollywood to meet Elvis Presley,” said guest host Charles Laughton, who was filling in for an ailing Sullivan.
FUN FACT Censors insisted Elvis be shown only from the waist up when he made his third and final appearance Jan. 6, 1957.
The Beatles (Feb. 9, 1964)
WHAT THEY SANG “All My Lovin,’ ” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
INTRO “Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles.”
FUN FACT An estimated 73 million viewers tuned in for the Fab Four’s live television debut.
James Brown (May 1, 1966)
WHAT HE SANG “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Feel Good,” “Ain’t That a Groove,” “Its A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and “Please, Please, Please”
INTRO “I was talking to young Jim Brown — James Brown. He was telling me that his rhythm and blues are rooted in Southern gospel singing. Now he’s a Southerner, of course, he was born in Augusta, Georgia, where he worked on a farm, picked cotton, worked in a coal yard and always sang his songs. So we are delighted to present James Brown on our stage, on this show.”
FUN FACT When Brown’s electrifying performance was done, the typically pokerfaced Sullivan looked into the camera and said, “That is really excitement, isn’t it?”
The Doors (Sept. 17, 1968)
WHAT THEY SANG “People Are Strange,” “Light My Fire”
INTRO “Now, The Doors. Here they are with their newest hit record, ‘People are Strange.’ ”
FUN FACT Before going on, the group was ordered to change the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” from “Light My Fire.” They sang it as is and were banned from the show.