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His feuds have cooled too. Gone are the days, he says, when he dismissed Walter Winchell as "a cringing coward" and Hedda Hopper as "downright illiterate" for printing "garbage" about celebrities; during his frequent clashes over the pirating of talent, he put down Steve Allen and his manager as "two punks" and squelched Arthur Godfrey with the line, "By the way, what does he do now?" (He hosts a CBS Radio morning show.) During a contract dispute with Frank Sinatra some years ago, Sullivan took a full-page ad in Variety to lambaste the singer for "false and reckless charges"; Frankie countered with his own ad calling Sullivan "sick, sick, sick." Such is his relative benignity that the worst he can say for his old competitor Jack Paar is that he is a "thoroughly no-good son of a bitch. That's spelled son. . ."
Now 65, Sullivan is mumbling again about retiring, but no one believes him. Sure as Mass on Sunday, Old Stone Face will be back next season with yet another "really big shew" and everyone will be asking the old question. Perhaps the best answer is given by an old Sullivan regular, Comic Alan King. "Ed does nothing," he says. "But he does it better than anyone else in television."