Critics really got under Ed Sullivan's skin
The press regularly tore into the iconic TV host.
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
For most of us, this is one of the first big life lessons we're taught about kindness and humility. It's a great reminder that we just don't need to spread more negative energy. The world's already got plenty of it. So, instead, it's important to filter some of our thoughts that might have nasty consequences if spoken. After all, do we really need to tell that one television host that his stoic face is off-putting?
Evidently, television critics didn't quite get the memo about not saying nice things. In fact, they make a living from pointing out what's wrong with TV shows. Critics very rarely have any television production experience, but they're still paid to speak on the matter.
In the first fifty or so years after the advent of television, no man was beaten up by critics more than Ed Sullivan. Everything about him was dragged over the coals as writers tried and failed to harm his career. However, Sullivan unwaveringly continued to appear on TV. While the criticism may not have had the intended effect on his ability to work, it did adversely affect the man behind the mic.
According to a 1967 interview with The San Francisco Examiner, Sullivan was very aware of his standing with the press. He reportedly all of his bad press in envelopes and filed it all away alphabetically. He would occasionally pull out the criticism and reread the negative writing.
"I hate adverse criticism. I loathe it. I will never 'get used to it.' Furthermore, I suspect anybody who says he's immune to it of being a really big liar."
Fortunately for his blood pressure, Sullivan seemed to mellow out a tiny bit regarding the matter later in life.
"Ed used to write letters to critics," said his wife Sylvia. "I'd try to get him to tear them up, or at least wait until the next morning to mail them."
So, the next time someone has something lousy to say about you or your work, just be glad it's not on a nationally publicized platform.