ED SULLIVAN SHOW
With Red Skelton, Petula Clark, Buddy Hackett, Eddie Fisher, The Young Rascals, Carazini, Ray Bloch Orch
Producer: Bob Precht
Director: Tim Kiley
60 Mins., Sun., 8 p.m.
Television's longrunning champ, Ed Sullivan, marking the begining of his 20th tele year, name-loaded his official return for the new season with a galaxy comprising Red Skeleton, Petula Clark, Buddy Hackett, Eddie Fisher, Young Rascals and Carazini, and once again it pointed up the why-for of the conferencier-cum-columnist's consistent audience acceptance. In short, he knows how and what to book and what's more, knows when to get out of the way of the actors.
Sullivan's recent Ladies Home Journal confessional virtually states the same thing. What he understated is a seasoned awareness of audience values. He spans more than a third-of-a-century of show biz appraisal and participation. He has a sentimental regard for the tradition of Al Jolson and if, mayhaps, some didn't quite appreciate what Sillivan meant that Jolie "thought Red Skelton was the greatest mimic," the comedian proved it anew with his opener. True, the screaming-meemy adolescents out front in the live audience reacted more vociferously to The Young Rascals, but it is this concurrent spot-booking of the topical favorites, along with the solid staples, that make for the Sullivan alchemy.
Petula Clark with her rhythmically modern yet melodic songs (including an effective battery of strings for a
reprise of Charles Chaplin's theme from "Limelight" titled "Eternally," a sort of paraphrased lyrically of Irving Berlin's "Always") segued to Buddy Hackett's reprise of his old "Chinese waiter" routine. Eddie Fisher's songs, the r&r tempos of the Rascals and clever magico Carazini.
Hackett, funny of mien and manner, but still a meanie when it comes to the critics, pointed up that two years ago when he starred in "I Had a Ball" all seven critics gave him the shaft but somehow today, "only three papers are left." For some inane rason there was a smattering of audience applause. What this proves, in the case of Hackett vis-a-vis the press, is equally conjectural. Paradoxically, both he and Fisher got tepid applause but their stuff was thoroughly professional, per usual.
Amidst the sentimentality of the 20th anni, Sullivan gave lavish tribute to Walter Winchesll, out front with Shermane Billingsley (she's doing a tome of her famed father, the later founder-owner of the renowed Stork club, for which WW will do the foreward.) Sullivan hailed Winchell as the daddy of Broadway columnists and the audience salvoed him enthusiastically. Previously, he read congratulatory wires from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and also mentioned Jack Entratter, among others; and Jerry Vale (avec wife) was likewise trailerized on his upcoming Copacabana bow this Thursday (14).
Withal, Sunday-at-8 for Sullivan looks as trademarked a time slot at Winchell-at-9 used to be in the radio era of "Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea."