11296 – 50 years?!?! Wow!!

50 years since she said, ‘Julie, don’t go!’
Fifty years ago this Sunday night, Canada successfully invaded America, or more precisely, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster made their legendary first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
They performed “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga,” a wry historical parody of the type they excelled at. In tough detective-story style, private eye Flavius Maximus (Wayne) pursued Brutus (Shuster) for the murder of Julius Caesar.
And although they scored a hit, the biggest laughs of the evening went to another member of the cast.
It was Sylvia Lennick who brought the house down as Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, with her oft-repeated lament: “I told him, `Julie, don’t go!'”
Lennick is 92 now, still living in Toronto. She’s the only surviving member of the company from that historic night and she remembers it well, although the sharp-as-a-tack showbiz veteran begins her reminiscences with a vintage ham-on-wry quip.
“I don’t know how it can be 50 years ago,” she deadpans, “when I’m only 52.”
Back in the 1950s, Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town, which appeared on CBS-TV every Sunday night at 8 p.m., was one of the most influential media showcases in America.
Each week, an assortment of talent ranging from rock idols (Elvis Presley appeared, from the waist up) to novelty acts (remember Topio Gigo, the Italian mouse?) to stars of the latest Broadway shows (Mary Martin, Ethel Merman) would fight to be on Sullivan’s show. A successful appearance could turn a career around overnight. It was a very big deal.
So was Lennick nervous about appearing on such a prestigious show?
“You’re always a little nervous when you’re performing,” she ho-hums. “Without nerves, you might as well stay home. You work on those nerves.”
She did have one major area of concern. “I was doing the part in a heavy Bronx accent and I thought to myself, `Here I am going where everybody talks like that!'”
But her mind was soon put at ease.
“In those days,” she recalls, “they did two rehearsals the day of the show and all the actors in New York would come to the first one in the morning.
“I said my first line and they roared with laughter. Then when I made my exit, they applauded. That’s when I knew I’d be fine.”
The same thing happened at the afternoon’s dress rehearsal and the live evening broadcast brought Lennick her biggest response of all.
The next day, all of America was buzzing about the show and “I told him, `Julie don’t go!'” became an instant catchphrase.
Lennick was initially unaware of all the fuss.
“All I knew was I had gotten three hands on the same day with the same material. It was like I had gone to heaven.”
It even made up for the fact that appearing on the Sullivan show had forced her to postpone her son David’s bar mitzvah.
“And it all shows you how much I know,” laughs Lennick.
“When I read the script, I never thought `Julie don’t go,’ was my big laugh line.
“I thought I was going to kill them when I said, `It’s the Ides of March, already.'”