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A Nation That Was Rocked: How The Ed Sullivan Show Contributed To The Success Of Elvis Presley

1910 words - 8 pages

The power of television is strong and inevitable. Television has the ability to draw people in and view the world through a perspective one would think unimaginable. After the second world war ended in 1945, electronic sales boomed and more families started to gather around the tv at night to view widely famous television shows. Specifically, The Ed Sullivan Show was known for its plethora of celebrities and up and coming entertainers. The shows popularity was able to take a small town artist and make he or she into an enormous success, specifically, Elvis Presley who was, “something new under the Sun” (Altschuler 30). Teenagers, however, viewed the television as an escape and a look into ...view middle of the document...

A friend of Elvis’, George Klein, even stated, “because in those days, when you made Ed Sullivan, you made it” (When America was Rocked). Sullivan’s program was always something unexpected and knew. This gave the show a surprise aspect that added to its popularity. One author concludes, “part of the secret [of the show] was the creative and extraordinarily competent team he assembled to produce a weekly show with new sets, new costumes, new dance members and musical arrangements each week” (Ilson 4). Quick preparation for shows was unheard of and people loved the idea of seeing something different each week. The “surprise” each week kept people intrigued. However, viewers were also intrigued by the fact that the show was live. The idea that a show was live added thousands of mistakes or accomplishments to be made during the time slot. This also led to the audience having to constantly be on their toes because one never knew what might occur. Sullivan himself was the one who demanded for the show to be live even after his competitor television shows changed to filmed and taped shows. To Sullivan, the word “live” symbolized, “adrenaline, spontaneity, excitement as well as a few mistakes and bloopers” (Ilson 5). The success of the great show began early and went to live on as one of the most renowned broadcasts of all time. However, it would not be as well known today without the power of mass media.
Television shows would not be as accomplished as they are today without the power of mass media. After the second world war ended in 1945, television set sales boomed. Because of this, the 1950s was known as the “Golden Age of Television.” As one author, Denis McQuail, states, “The mass media-primarily radio, film or print at the time most research was conducted-emerged as unlikely to be major contributors to direct change of individual opinions, attitudes or behaviour” (McQuail 10). However, this statement reigned untrue, for as time went on, television did indeed have the power to affect ones opinions and thoughts. One example of the capability of mass media was the increase in television sales. As time went on, more and more people wanted to own televisions, however, the price was very expensive. Fortunately, the price became affordable, so in the 1950s, over eight-million people possessed a television set in the United States, therefore there were over eight-million viewers of tv. A commentator states, “It [the number of television owners] goes from one of ten people with tvs in 1949, to nine of ten people with tvs in 1959” (When America was Rocked). Thus, when Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time in 1956, there were, of course, over eight-millions viewers. People were interested in the idea of entertainment that was easy and convenient in the privacy of their own homes. Instead of having to go to a movie theater to view the local news or watch a comical show, people could now easily gather around the television and watch...

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