In the U.S., former vaudeville performers such as the Marx Brothers, George Burns and Gracie Allen, W. C. Fields, and Jack Benny moved to sound movies, then radio, and then television, including variety shows. In the 1960s, even a popular rock band such as The Beatles undertook this ritual of appearing on variety shows on TV. In the US, shows featuring Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, and Dean Martin also helped to make the Golden Age of Television successful.
From 1948 to 1971, The Ed Sullivan Show was one of CBS's most popular series. Using his no-nonsense approach, Ed Sullivan allowed every known act possible from every known medium to get their "fifteen minutes of fame." Sullivan was also partially responsible for bringing Elvis Presley and The Beatles to U.S. prominence.
In the UK The Good Old Days, which ran from 1953 to 1983, featured modern artists performing dressed in late Victorian/Early Edwardian costume, either doing their own act or performing as a music hall artist of that period. The audience was also encouraged to dress in period costume in a similar fashion.
On television, variety reached its peak during the period of the 1960s and 1970s. With a turn of the television dial, viewers around the globe could variously have seen shows featuring Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, The Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, Lynda Carter, Johnny Cash, Sonny and Cher, Bob Monkhouse, Carol Burnett, Rod Hull and Emu, Flip Wilson, Dinah Shore, Lawrence Welk, Glen Campbell, Donny & Marie, Barbara Mandrell, Judy Garland, The Captain & Tennille, The Jacksons, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr., Mary Tyler Moore, Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Smothers Brothers, Danny Kaye, Buck and Roy, Roy Hudd, Billy Dainty Max Wall or The Muppet Show. Variety shows were once as common on television as Westerns, courtroom dramas, suspense thrillers, sitcoms, or (in more modern times) reality shows.
During the 1960s and 70s, there were also several one-time variety specials, featuring stars such as Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, or Mitzi Gaynor, none of whom ever had a regular television series.
A contemporary version of the variety show format, NBC's Saturday Night Live, which made its debut in 1975, is still airing today, with its combination of comedy sketches and musical performances, but Saturday Night Live places most of its emphasis on comedy (especially parody and satire), while earlier variety shows placed most of their emphasis on music.
In 2004, ABC's The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour attempted to revive the prime-time variety hour as a special for today's generation. The first show was a ratings success, and it was followed by Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas in early December of that year.
The Scouting Gang Show performed principally by young people 18 years of age and under in many locations around the world is an example of a variety show format that has endured for over seventy years.
Another of today's variety shows in Asia is Taiwan's Variety Big Brother. Taiwanese variety shows are infamous for their constant use of artificial laugh tracks even though there is a studio audience. However, the most popular variety program would have to be the long-running "Super Sunday", known for it's fast-paced style and catchphrases.
Many television specials continue to resemble the variety show format to this day.