A “Really Big Show,” Even For Ed

Last night, 50 years ago, Ed Sullivan was broadcasting live from Expo 67

By Carmen Desmeules et Sylvain Cormier (translated by Emilie Gosselin)

Video credit – Library and Archives Canada

At around 10 p.m., on the second Sunday since its grand opening, Expo 67 welcomes its three millionth visitor.

Blue Nose II, the famous yacht, is set to remain in the port of Montreal for the duration of Expo to welcome the incoming ships that fly the flags of the entire world’s pavilions.

Photo credit – Library and Archives Canada

For entertainment, Joe Harnel, the pianist who composed the theme song for The Incredible Hulk,  the TV series, performs on the rooftop of the Air Canada pavilion. For the occasion, a concert piano weighing over 800 pounds is hoisted up onto the roof.

On this evening, The Ed Sullivan Show, TV’s most popular variety entertainment show and an absolute must on Sunday evenings (on CBS in the US and CBC in Canada), is broadcast live from Expo, featuring Diana Ross & the Supremes. They play their latest hit, The Happening, a nod to the fact that something special was going down at Expo 67.

Roger D. Landry, who directed Hostess, Guide and Protocol Services at Expo, and who was also charged with receiving all heads of state and special guests, remembers: “[…] the world’s greatest: Ed Sullivan came here to broadcast live from the Expo-Theatre. […] It just kept going. It was nonstop.” The former Broadway musicals columnist at Daily News was completely amazed by Expo 67: and Ed Sullivan, who had had Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones over on what he called his “really big show” (or “really big shoe,” according to his many imitators).

Photo credit – Library and Archives Canada

A group of kids under the age of 20 protested: they were denied entry to the 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m shows at the Youth Pavilion because alcohol was being served.

For the past few days, entrance to Expo after 9 p.m. is now $1 instead of $2,50. A campaign is also launched called “Journées Expo 67” to raise $190 000, in order to give 125 000 disadvantaged people the opportunity to visit Expo 67.

Source: Expo 67 Collection, Library and Archives Canada. Interview with Roger D. Landry, mai 2016.

What was Bobby Kennedy doing at Expo 67?