If there were two kings of variety shows, it would be Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. Ed Sullivan would host the most prominent guests on The Ed Sullivan Show. Johnny Carson was the iconic host of The Tonight Show.
While The Ed Sullivan Show would end in 1971, it left behind a lasting legacy. In a 1972 interview on The Tonight Show, Carson recognized Ed’s importance.
Carson introduces Ed as one of his best friends in the introduction. The audience claps for a smiling Sullivan. The two men then discuss Sullivan’s history on television.
Carson speaks with great reverence for how long Ed has been on the air. Carson also brings up that Ed must feel different being out of the late-show game. Sullivan admits it’s certainly different than what he’s used to.
Fascinated by his guest, Carson remarks that talking to Ed makes him feel like he’s addressing a parody of Sullivan. The audience and Ed laugh. Carson then proceeds to make his best impression of Sullivan.
Carson brings up how Sullivan has a replacement that has adapted well. Future events for Ed to appear live are also brought up. Prominent guests will be working with Sullivan for his upcoming appearances.
Among his many projects, Sullivan talks about doing a show on Broadway. Carson is impressed at how busy Sullivan has been since no long doing his Sunday night show.
Carson talks about how Sullivan paved the way for other variety shows. Among Ed’s many accomplishments was bringing The Beetles to American television.
Before going to a commercial, Carson notes that Sullivan is still writing his column. When returning from the ad break, Carson picks up a conversation with Ed asking about Carson’s first shows.
Carson notes it was 1950 on the NBC All-Star Review for his first show. Sullivan and Carson also talk about screwing up their lines. Carson finds himself amused by one failed introduction that made him fall off the couch when watching Ed’s show.
After noting Ed’s accomplishments, Carson asks if there’s anything else Ed would like to meet. Sullivan finds it difficult and notes Carson feels the same.
Carson thanks Ed for stopping by and celebrating his 20 years on television. Sullivan also greatly appreciates Carson and recommends the audience cheer for him. The audience applauds as Ed walks off the set and the band plays.
Ed Sullivan continued writing and presenting until he died in 1974. The Tonight Show continued with Johnny Carson until his retirement in 1992. He would pass away in 2005.
While Sullivan and Carson are gone, their legacy on television remains firm. The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show paved the way for late-night variety shows. Being able to have these two minds meet is a real treat.