Variety Shows of Early Television

Originally posted at

Something that I regret I could not witness was the popularity and prevalence of variety shows in early television. I like whole style of the of the variety show; bringing masses of celebrities and talents to the shows and the living rooms or the viewers. Even though they were celebrities when on the variety shows they became like everyone else. They performed but it was often much more lighthearted. They had fun and enjoyed working on these shows. They would gather in sets made up like living rooms often having several of the top talents coming together for an hour of fun and entertainment.

I also like how there was indeed variety in these shows. On the shows comedians, actors and musical performers were blended making an experience unique for that episode. There were so many of these shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Danny Thomas and many more. Dean Martin may have been the king of these with the Martin and Lewis Comedy Hour, the Dean Martin Variety shoe and his celebrity roasts. Another important element of variety television was the introduction to new and arriving talent (especially in the case of the Ed Sullivan Show).

Looking at today’s television we really have nothing equal to it. The closest would be the late night shows and sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live.

Have a look and see what I mean:

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

Phil Harris on the Dean Martin Variety Show (you might recognize him as the voice of Baloo on The Jungle Book)

Bob Dylan on the Johnny Cash Show

Louis Armstrong on the Dean Martin Variety Show

Johnathan Winters on the Dean Martin Variety Show

3 Responses to Variety Shows of Early Television

  1. Hey pallie H. N. , indeed our Dino is the King of Variety on the tube….spreadin’ his Dinomagic through Martin and Lewis, the Dinoshow and those amazin’ Dinoroasts. Thanks for some great clips from the Dinoshow…never was, never will be anyone as cool as our King of Cool….oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth!

  2. B. Shaw says:

    I am now more than ever convinced that you were born in the wrong era.

  3. Keith says:

    Great blog post. Love those videos. I so agree. I’m 37. I wish I had been around during the 60’s. I see clips of these classic variety shows. These were when stars were stars. There were so many great entertainers back then. The music, style, etc. was so hip and cool. I really love what I’ve ever seen from Dean Martin’s show. That cat is definitely the King of Cool. He crooned a song like no other, plus he always had some witty banter with his guests. I also loved the Goldiggers on his show and his cool looking set. There is nothing at all like this in our world today. It’s so sad.

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