These comedians were mainstays on The Ed Sullivan Show

Image: The Everett Collection

Of course we remember The Ed Sullivan Show for the most famous appearances across a remarkable 23 year run, including The Beatles, Elvis Presley and so many more. 

You never knew what type of performance would take place during those primetime hours every Sunday night. Whether it be opera, rock 'n' roll, or a talent-based show, there was always room for comedy. And viewers loved it. 

Countless comedians appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, whether it was their breakthrough career moment or a return to the stage. Several comedians made multiple appearances, and it wasn't a surprise when they came back for another episode.

It was usually a testament to how their careers were going and, generally speaking, the more times they appeared on the show, the better off they were doing. 

Here are comedians who made the most visits to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, from the show's inception in 1948, to its final episode in 1971. 


Rodney Dangerfield - 17 appearances

Making 17 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Rodney Dangerfield was best known for his comedic routines of self-deprecation and one of his most famous catchprases, "I don't get no respect." He made his first of 17 appearances on March 5, 1967. His career gained some serious traction following the appearance, and was also seen on The Tonight Show, before turning to film with roles in Caddyshack, Easy Money and Back to School.

Image Credit: Rodney Dangerfield Youtube Channel


Joan Rivers - 21 appearances

Joan Rivers was arguably one of the most recognizable fashion critics and reporters on the red carpet. Before much of her career success came to fruition, she was a staple on The Ed Sullivan Show. Her first of 21 appearances came in 1966, when Sullivan accidently said her name instead of Johnny Rivers. Though she appeared on The Tonight Show several times before hosting her own shows, Rivers was never shy to credit large parts of her career longevity to The Ed Sullivan Show.

Image Credit: Associated Press


Jean Carroll - 29 appearances

The first of 29 appearances for Jean Carroll was on January 16, 1949. She was known for being a trailblazer and one of the first female stand-up comedians. According to Ed Sullivan's website, some of her most famous routines surrounded Florida and its vacationers. Carroll began her comedic career alongside her husband, Buddy Howe. After he was drafted, her career went solo, and she never looked back. She was the host of The Jean Carroll Show which went on the air in 1953. 


Stiller & Meara - 36 appearances

The iconic duo of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara visited The Ed Sullivan Show 36 times throughout the Sixties and Seventies. They were married prior to coming together professionally. They remained together in marriage but eventually took separate career paths. According to a 2020 article, Stiller said, "I love Anne, but if I had depended on her in my professional life, I would have lost her as a wife." Stiller went on to play major roles as Frank Costanza in Seinfeld and Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens during a career resurgence in the Nineties. 

Image Credit: The Everett Collection


Alan King - 37 appearances

Known for his quick-wit and long (and angry) rants, Alan King was a fan favorite on The Ed Sullivan Show, making his first appearance after being named a last minute replacement following a cancelation from Victor Borge. According to the Ed Sullivan website, King was one of Sullivan's favorite comedians and could relate so well to the audience. He received 36 more invitations to return after his clutch fill-in performance in 1956.

Image Credit: Associated Press


Myron Cohen - 43 appearances

Making six more stops than King was Myron Cohen, who had a strong connection with the Jewish community in New York City. He first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1950, when it was then called Toast of The Town. He would go on to headline several shows in Upstate New York's Borscht Belt. Prior to his comedic career taking off, Cohen was a salesman, who often had clients tell him he needed to get into stand-up comedy. He'd appear with Ed Sullivan a total of 43 times.

Image Credit: The Everett Collection


Jack Carter - 49 appearances

Jack Carter had a wide-range of comedic styles, landing him 49 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. His first came on Toast of The Town in 1949. Through the Fifties and Sixties, Carter was featured on several shows, before being a part of The Saturday Night Review and his own show, The Jack Carter Show. He would appear in several classic TV shows, including The Wild Wild West, The Lucy Show, Batman and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to name a few!

Image Credit: Associated Press


Wayne & Shuster - 58 appearances

Finally, per the Ed Sullivan website, the Canadian duo of Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster had the most appearances on the show with 58. The first being in 1958, "They allegedly earned around $7,500 a show, which was more than most of the other performers on the show (including Elvis)." Though they were the definition of mainstays on The Ed Sullivan Show, the duo primarily remained in Canada throughout their entire run, spanning from the early '40s to the late '80s.

Image Credit: The Everett Collection