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Always On Sunday: An Inside View of Ed Sullivan, the Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra & Ed's Other Guests [Kindle Edition]

Michael Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and the Author

Ed first learns I have written a book when I hand him a finished manuscript.  Naively, I imagine he’ll be flattered, but when he reads it, he blows his stack and stops speaking to me.  He’s furious. I am revealing more about him, more backstage gossip and more details about the inner workings of the show than he wants made public.

Fortunately for me and for Always On Sunday, Ed simmers down eventually and decides my unauthorized biography is “magnificent.” He promotes it in his newspaper column, in interviews and in joint television appearances with me.  Ed helps turn the book he initially hated into a national bestseller.

During my 11 years on the Sullivan show, no one created more excitement than the Beatles. February 7, 1964: Kennedy Airport.  Their first trip to the United States.  The screaming fans!  The haircuts!  The sassy answers!  Welcome to New York!  The entire country focuses on this place and these young men.  Including me.  I am meeting their plane. A CBS public relations executive for years. Now the network’s press representative on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Ed was warned not to sign the Beatles: “You’re crazy! No British group has ever made it big in this country.” A month before they arrive, they are still unknown in America. Every reporter I contact turns down my invitation to go with me to JFK.

Two weeks later, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” rockets to the top of the charts.  Beatlemania crosses the Atlantic, and I am besieged by thousands of ticket requests. Reporters plead to join me at JFK.

On February 14, I greet the Beatles again, this time in Miami for a second Sullivan show.  I do my best to stay out of the way but, thanks to papparazzi determined to cash in on every shot of the Fab Four, I appear in photos published around the world (including the NY Post). In the captions I am called a Beatle, a case of mistaken identity I still laugh about with my wife, best-selling novelist Ruth Harris.

When I return to New York, Ed searches for me backstage. One stagehand is impressed.  “Ed must really like you,” he says.  “You’ve only worked for him for four years, and he already knows your name.”


Ed And The Celebrities Who Loved Him — Or Not!

Why did Frank Sinatra take out an ad saying, “Ed, you’re sick, sick, sick.”?
You’ll find out in Always On Sunday.

Why did Mary Tyler Moore sue “The Ed Sullivan Show”?
You’ll find out in Always On Sunday.

Why did CBS cancel Bob Dylan’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” — against Ed’s wishes?
You’ll find out in Always On Sunday.

Elvis’ fans kissed him where?  Ed was stunned when Elvis explained. What did Elvis say?
You’ll find out in Always On Sunday

Reviewers Rave!

“One of the most intriguing show business books to come along in a long time.  It’s great, very well written and tells it like it is.  I knew Sullivan for years and consider Harris’ book an accurate sketch of a complex man.  Well done!”
 — Chicago Sun Times

“Honestly told …with remarkable frankness and genuine inside knowledge.  In the field of show business biographies, Always On Sunday has secured a place on the shelf reserved for the very best.”
 — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Always On Sunday:  An Inside View.…. And it is inside!  The book is studded with backstage gossip about showbiz greats.”
 — Houston Post

“Highly readable and surprisingly candid.…A remarkable success story.”
 — Miami Herald

“A portrait, warts and all.  From the very outset, Harris disarms the reader.”
 — San Diego Union

“Delightful!”
 — Charlotte News

“Irresistible!”
 — Boston Globe


Coming Soon

The Atomic Times, my 2005 memoir, is based on a more fraught experience: the shocking, funny, sad and raunchy portrait of army life on a nuclear Pacific island in 1955 where troops were used as human guinea pigs during 19 H-bomb tests.

“A gripping memoir leavened with humor. A tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier.” — Henry Kissinger


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1150 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FN1M0U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,536 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Always on Sunday 6 Jun. 2011
By BigAl
Format:Kindle Edition
Ed Sullivan's variety show was an American institution, running Sunday nights for twenty-three years, from the dawn of television in 1948 until 1971. Even relatively young readers have probably seen clips of Sullivan introducing Elvis Presley, the Beatles, or saying, "We've got a really big shew." "Always on Sunday" gives us a broad view of Sullivan, who turns out much more complex than I would have guessed. Some stories you might have heard for years are debunked - not all of Elvis' appearance were from the waist up for example. Although the book focuses on the period from the debut of "The Toast of the Town" (the original name of the show) until the late-60s, when the book was originally published, it gives a decent overview of his life prior to the show and insight into what made Sullivan tick. For example, he was an early supporter of equal rights and booked appearances by stars regardless of race when that was uncommon.

One part of the book I found interesting was Sullivan's reaction to television critics. Many of his reviews were negative and he was prone to react with a scathing letter in response. Many of these were long while others were succinct. One rather pointed response to syndicated columnist Harriet Van Horne read only: "Dear Miss Van Horne, You bitch. Sincerely, Ed Sullivan."

I did wonder how many people would actually be interested in learning more about Sullivan. I'm no spring chicken and was a month shy of becoming a teen when the show went off the air. Although I didn't watch "The Ed Sullivan Show" as a kid (blame it on overly religious parents who banned Sunday television watching) I was still well aware of Sullivan and his place in pop culture. When I asked my twenty-something daughter if she knew who Sullivan was she said: "Yes I do.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Always on a sunday 23 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite entertaining and interesting
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  146 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an important book, and a fantastic read... 8 Dec. 2010
By Rob Siders - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I was born the year this book was originally published, so my familiarity with Sullivan comes mostly through pop culture parodies of him. At the same time, I've been a fan of David Letterman since he had his daytime chat show, so it spoke volumes to me that he chose the Ed Sullivan Theater when he moved to CBS. My hope is that ALWAYS ON SUNDAY reaffirms its place among the important profiles of a true American treasure. Mr. Harris has written an important book that portrays Sullivan as he was at the height of his career. We're lucky that this book can again be available to set the record straight: Sullivan was more complex than the caricatures we tend to associate with him, he was more powerful than most who do remember realize, and television and pop culture entertainment would not be the same without him.

Full disclosure: I'm the ebook designer who converted the manuscript to digital for Mr. Harris. I read very few of my author-clients' books... if for no other reason than I'm too busy to read them all. As a general rule, I don't review an author-client's work, and this is the first, and likely, last review I'll write on behalf of one. But this is one worthy of making an exception.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always on Sunday 6 Jun. 2011
By BigAl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ed Sullivan's variety show was an American institution, running Sunday nights for twenty-three years, from the dawn of television in 1948 until 1971. Even relatively young readers have probably seen clips of Sullivan introducing Elvis Presley, the Beatles, or saying, "We've got a really big shew." "Always on Sunday" gives us a broad view of Sullivan, who turns out much more complex than I would have guessed. Some stories you might have heard for years are debunked - not all of Elvis' appearance were from the waist up for example. Although the book focuses on the period from the debut of "The Toast of the Town" (the original name of the show) until the late-60s, when the book was originally published, it gives a decent overview of his life prior to the show and insight into what made Sullivan tick. For example, he was an early supporter of equal rights and booked appearances by stars regardless of race when that was uncommon.

One part of the book I found interesting was Sullivan's reaction to television critics. Many of his reviews were negative and he was prone to react with a scathing letter in response. Many of these were long while others were succinct. One rather pointed response to syndicated columnist Harriet Van Horne read only: "Dear Miss Van Horne, You bitch. Sincerely, Ed Sullivan."

I did wonder how many people would actually be interested in learning more about Sullivan. I'm no spring chicken and was a month shy of becoming a teen when the show went off the air. Although I didn't watch "The Ed Sullivan Show" as a kid (blame it on overly religious parents who banned Sunday television watching) I was still well aware of Sullivan and his place in pop culture. When I asked my twenty-something daughter if she knew who Sullivan was she said: "Yes I do. He had a variety type show with musical guests, some of which included Elvis, the Beatles, and the Doors." She'd be disappointed; the book doesn't mention the appearance by The Doors (this would have happened after the original publication of the book) but it seems Sullivan's legacy is still known among younger generations. Anyone interested in pop culture history or the early days of television should find "Always on Sunday" an enlightening and entertaining read.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting if you're interested. Short anecdotes, name-dropping, not much depth 10 Jun. 2013
By Daniel P. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is of its time--starting with its title, which is a reference to the title of a then-famous film, "Never On Sunday." It probably won't interest you much if you didn't watch the Ed Sullivan show. I did, and I enjoyed remembering Ed Sullivan, and remembering a long list of half-forgotten celebrities of the 1950s and 1960s.

The book is of a kind you don't see much of any more. Most of it consists of short anecdotes, a paragraph or two long. I wonder whether it is, in fact, like the celebrity column Sullivan himself wrote (which I never read?)

Although it was obviously written by someone who knew Ed Sullivan, and although it does reveal something of the man's personality, it doesn't go very deep. I was hoping to get a real, sustained view of how Ed Sullivan actually went about choosing talent and putting together a show--"routining" as it was apparently called. I was hoping to learn more about vaudeville, and how his show related to vaudeville. It doesn't really do it.

There are glimpses; it becomes clear that Sullivan was very much a hands-on up-to-the-last-minute editor, selector, and arranger of the elements that would form a show.

I was also pleasantly reminded of his willingness to OPEN a show with the big act you'd been waiting to see, instead of teasing, teasing, teasing. He respected his audience. As well as respecting his performers.

Harris spends some time quoting people who tried to identify what Sullivan's talent consisted of. I think it gradually becomes clear: he RESPECTED TALENT. He had a genuine enthusiasm for the acts he presented. He was not the charming emcee whose own personality is, itself, a performance competing with the acts themselves. And, of course, he had genuinely good taste, and worked hard to provide honest value every week. He thought Mr. Pastry, or Mary Martin, or the Beatles, were _important._
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprised me 30 July 2012
By Corculum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found myself really enjoying this book but then wishing it were longer. Sullivan turned out to be much more fasinating tht I would have thought possible. IT's a nice writing style and some real insight into the Sullivan character but it does leave you wanting more...so I ordered a full biography of Ed. Kudos to the author for tackling the subject to begin with and with wetting my interest.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A really great shoe 2 Dec. 2013
By Gary Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked it because it gave content to a lot of things that I lived through. It was so interesting to read about the Doors performance and the background on using "Lite my Fire" and how he supported so many who might not have made it otherwise. I did not like the style of the reporting in this- felt like I was reading a bunch of newspaper headlines and stories - the book felt like a compendium of press clippings with "off the record" notes included. Perhaps Ed Sullivan the Promoter of the Little Guy, Ed Sullivan - The Revenging Angel would have been a better chapter tilting than a chronological one and tied it into some worldview of his character.
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