The Ed Sullivan Show made stars out of countless artists during its run on television, which lasted from 1948 until 1971. The show featured over 10,000 musical acts during its run.
Each Sunday at 8:00 PM, millions of Americans gathered around their TV sets to see the newest act of the day perform their hits on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The Supremes were the first Motown acts to perform on Sullivan’s show and the appearance was a coup of sorts for the label, because any act that appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show could expect his or her recording sales to at least, triple.
Neither Diana Ross nor Flo Ballard were particularly happy with their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show that night.
“The first time we did the Sullivan show, we almost didn’t get on,” Florence Ballard said in the book The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard. “It was something about his show. They say it’s always best to be second or third on his show, because if for some reason the show runs over and you’re the last one on, you won’t get on or you won’t get on it all. [On that first show], we almost didn’t make it. We were supposed to do two tunes, but we could only do one. After that we began to be pushed up to the front of the show.”
In the book Diana Ross: A Biography, Diana Ross expressed disappointment at only being able to perform one song, when the group thought they were going to be able to do two.
“We did the one song and I just cried,” Diana Ross revealed. “I was so unhappy because I thought we had done something wrong. Maybe I didn’t seem strong enough at rehearsal. I thought I had given my all, maybe that’s why they took one of the songs out. I didn’t know that was a regular routine”
The Supremes, like all Motown acts, were managed by the Motown controlled company International Management Company (IMC).
The group was paid $1,500 for their first three appearances and $7,500 for each appearance after.
Each time The Supremes’ episode was rerun on The Ed Sullivan Show, the total amount that the group earned was $115.18, or roughly about $40 each.