Ed Sullivan has returned to the spotlight in a new millennium, what with Sunday being the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on his iconic variety show.
So let’s take this opportunity to pay tribute to the man’s love of sports – including a decade as a sports writer and editor in the 1920s – that extended even to his romantic life.
Sullivan was engaged to Sybil Bauer, a 1924 Olympic gold medal swimmer, and was by her side when she died of cancer at age 23 in 1927.
During his show’s run from 1948-71, he had on scores of sports figures – including Herb Score – with an emphasis on boxers and New York baseball players.
There were eight visits apiece for Jack Dempsey, Sugar Ray Robinson, Mickey Mantle and Byron Nelson. (According to IMDB.com.)
He had Eleanor Gehrig and Teresa Wright, who played her in the movies. He had Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Dempsey? He had Gene Tunney, too. He had Bronko Nagurski and O.J. Simpson, Red Barber and Vin Scully, Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson, Jackie Robinson and Yogi Berra, Joe Namath and Joe Louis and Joe DiMaggio.
My favorite: The 1969 Mets, three days after winning the World Series – with their formal names as captions, i.e. Don Dyer, Frank McGraw and Darrell (sic) Harrelson – on stage en masse singing, “Heart.’’
From the play “Damn Yankees.’’