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             "Eddie, Keesa Me Goo' Night!"

by Eva Pasco


Topo GigioDuring the 60s, Topo Gigio made more than fifty appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show aired live 8-9 p.m. EST from CBS-TV Studio 50 in New York City, renamed The Ed Sullivan Theater on the occasion of the program's 20th anniversary. A ten inch tall Italian puppet mouse of foam rubber greeted the host with a sugary “Hello Eddie,” and ended the hour crooning, “Eddie, keesa me goo’ night” with more of a dead end delivery in 1971 when all of us kissed the show good-bye. The really big s-h-o-o –o Baby Boomers watched religiously originally made its debut in 1948 as Toast of the Town before officially becoming The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955.

Catching a recent PBS fund raising segment pushing sales of Ed Sullivan’s Rock and Roll Classics—the 60s, prompted me to adjust those rabbit ears and turn the dial to channel 12 on the black-and-white console TV. That is, until 1965 when CBS began televising in color, and we eventually got a colored set with a rotary antenna. Back in the day when CBS, NBC, and ABC were the major networks, “everybody” tuned in to the Greatest Variety Show on Earth—The Ed Sullivan Show. And, what variety there was: comedians, classical soloists, ballet dancers, circus acts, guys spinning plates on sticks while riding a unicycle, acrobats, and opera singers. Watching the show became a family ritual in camaraderie, a cultural phenomenon with no generation gap.

Yeah, yeah, yeah—Ed Sullivan earned the reputation of “kingmaker” because performers on his s-h-o-o shot to stardom as did “The King” in 1956. However, I will never forget the first appearance of the Beatles in 1964 which signified the beginning of the British Invasion that certainly revolutionized my record collection and inspired my Ringo haircut…and you know that can’t be bad…ooh! The beat went on with The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Eric Burdon & The Animals… A generation gap began as a rift in our den as my father criticized long hair, disapproved of some song lyrics, and dismissed the audience of hysterical teenage girls screaming and crying as insane. He rolled his eyes like Ralph Kramden, expressing his disdain. “What is this world coming to?”

In an era when few opportunities existed for African-American performers on national television, Ed Sullivan championed such distinguished and talented performers as Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Bo Diddley, and The 5th Dimension. As the issue of civil rights was one of those touchy touchstones of the Sixties, censorship was apparent even as the cameras rolled.    

The Ed Sullivan Show played an important role in the life of Baby Boomers. The footage of the favorite groups we grooved to or wept hysterically over clearly indicates teeth whiteners and invisible veneers had yet to invade dentistry. More importantly, the flashback footage shows that our generation had a beat of its own which has endured and evolved. To my satisfaction, The Rolling Stones still gather no moss...
Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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