Iran According To Ed Sullivan
Oil Nationalization, Mossadegh, Consortium (1951-54)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | April 1, 2021                    

Iran According To Ed Sullivan (1951-1954)

In 1951, the height of the oil nationalization crisis between and Iran and Britain, Ed Sullivan was widening his media presence.

In the newspapers, he wrote a syndicated column for the New York Daily News called “Old Little New York”. On television, he hosted the variety talent show “Toast of the Town”, later to become the legendary “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

In a few short years, Sullivan’s fame exploded when he introduced the likes of Elvis Presley and The Beatles on his extremely popular show, a bona fide American institution which aired on CBS from 1948 to 1971.

While often factually unreliable, Sullivan’s newspaper commentary on Iran was not entirely one-sided, though perhaps less enlightened than fellow TV host Walter Kiernan, with an emphasis on the oil and gas supply.

Little Old New York by Ed Sullivan

February 12, 1951

While Kings of Egypt and Iran are planning honeymoons, Yugoslavia’s ex-King Peter and his Alexandra, now reconciled, plan to live in America with their son. . . .

[The wedding of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was that day, February 12th. The marriage ended in 1958.]

March 26, 1951

Tension in Iran stepped up by the undercover conflict between British and U.S. oil combinations, each trying to outsmart the other, and both playing into Commie hands. . . .

April 2, 1951

“No American oil company has an interest in Iran,” replies American Petroleum Institute president, Frank M. Porter, contradicting my suggestion that undercover conflict of British-American oil interests in troubled Iran plays right into Commie hands. . . . Don’t Standard of N.J., Texas and Socony-Vacuum own Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Co., in Iran! [They partnered with AIOC in a 1947-48 agreement with Middle East Pipelines Limited which encompassed Iranian and Kuwaiti oil. Aramco owned TAPLINE.] Commerce Dep’t thought so, when it gave 1943 permission to Trans - Arabian to export 12,000 tons of pipe line to Iran, stipulating that Trans - Arabian, out of its daily receipt of 100,000 barrels of crude oil, sell 40,000 barrels to other American companies. ... In the meantime, oil lobbyists haunting Washington to grab California tideland oil (just 29 years ago, this April, Sec’y of Interior Albert Fall took a $100,000 bribe, leasing Teapot Dome to Sinclair’s Mammoth; leasing Navy oil preserves, Elk Hills, to Doheny’s Pan American).

June 4, 1951

. . . Gas rationing here dependent on outcome of negotiations, in Iran. It may be sooner than you think.

Iran’s Shah and the Missus expect a Christmas heir.... [His Queen, Soraya Esfandiari Bakhtiari, was not pregnant, in fact infertile.]

June 11, 1951

. . . England’s best advice on handling of the Iranian oil crisis came from 82-year-old Calouste Gulbenkian, world oil king and billionaire. He lives in Portugal but corresponds with British leaders via his bearded son, Nubar, honorary commercial attache at Iran’s Embassy in London . . .

June 16, 1951

My Secretary, Africa, Speaks

Dear Boss—Iran, which was supposed to fuel World War III, actually may prevent a war, as I see it, because Iranian oil wells would be neutralized instantly, by bombing. . . . England says that no nation could distribute oil from the main Persian port of Abadan if England’s fleet of 160 tankers, some with a capacity of 32,000 tons, were withdrawn, and obviously the Russian mountain ranges prevent Stalin from pipe-lining it to the Kremlin. . . . Danger signal, to all, would be U.S. imposition of strict gas rationing, warns Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. . . . U.S. oil reserves, plus atom bomb, are maintaining the classic balance of power destroyed in World War II. And that, sir, is your history lesson for the day.

June 25, 1951

The Iran-England oil contract was based on pounds, so when Britain devalued the pound, American oil companies warned the Anglo-Iranian operators to change the contract so that Iran would not be penalized. The English refused, on the grounds that “a contract, old boy, is a contract.” American warnings were based on Mexico experience, where U.S. greed resulted in Mexico’s expropriation of American oil leases, an experience that taught American oil companies the economic error of bleeding a country white.... Abject poverty of Iran readied the population for the expulsion of London’s stupid oilmen. American oil companies now are trying to patch the rift, because the loss of the Abadan refinery’s daily output of 650,000 barrels of gasoline imposes a terrific strain on an industry that can’t stand an extra 12 or more demand, without U.S. rationing. England, in the meantime, continues its stupidity by denying Atlantic Pact membership to Turkey, with the best fighting men in Europe. . . .

July 9, 1951

. . . . Montreal-bunt planes, 40-seat Argonauts, have flown out about 900 British technicians and families from Iran.

October 29, 1951

Premier Mossadegh of Iran really in trouble: having chased the British oil experts and technicians out of Iran, the country is threatened with economic ruin; if he reconciles with the British, there’s a good chance of assassination....

November 12, 1951

. . . Shah of Iran heir expected next month. . . . [Says who?]

December 15, 1951

. . . British papers, burned up at U.S. intrusion in Iran, sneering that Mrs. Averell Harriman was given 1500 meters of Persian silk and 200 pairs of stockings by Iran’s Premier Mohamad Mossadegh. Debited to a special Iran account: “Future income from nationalized oil.”

Alternate version from December 17th:

. . . British papers, burned at U.S. intrusion in Iran, sneering that Mrs. Averell Harriman was given 1,500 meters of Persian silk and 200 pairs of stockings by Iran’s Premier Mossadegh to be paid for out of non-existent income from nationalized oil?

January 28, 1952

International Bank sent our ablest oil man to Iran to see how quickly oil production could be resumed in quantity. His report now being studied.... [Probably referring to Torkild Reiber of Texas Oil Co.]

... European families in Iran moving to Switzerland for safety.

March 3, 1952

... England and Iran to settle their oil difficulties by May 1. . . . [Says who?]

May 12, 1952

... A secret deal between Moscow and Iran on the latter’s oil production will be making news (bad) for U.S. . . . [Says who?]

June 9, 1952

... Iran’s Premier Mossadegh due over here again for further talks about his country’s oil problems. . . . [Reports of a second U.S. trip were erroneous.]

September 4, 1952

In Errol Flynn’s “The Master of Ballantrae,” the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Scottish horseman who dashes around the bridge is Beaumont Pinney. Until recently Finney was working in Iran as sup’t of personnel at the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. . . . .

[When released in 1953, neither this character nor actor was in the movie.]

January 31, 1953

. . . .Aged Mossadegh’s stubbornness has cost his country a fortune. Come June, the Iranian oil fields will have shut down two years. . . . [Not shut down, at limited production]

March 4, 1953

... In Monday’s column, it was pointed out that Commie control on the Himalayas would end the cashmere output. An informed gentleman advised yesterday that American importers now get their supply from Iran, though the Iranian goats can’t compete in texture with the Himalayan goats. Mills will make their bids in April for the Iranian cashmere; in the meantime, only English mills are buying from the Commie cashmere suppliers in China.

August 31, 1953

... Kremlin trouble-shooter Lavrentiev, sent to Iran just before the Shah was deposed, was taking bows. [Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Lavrentiev] Then the Shah came back, to the embarrassment of Lavrentiev and to the delight of the one person in Europe who stayed loyal to the young Shah, the Aga Khan. Everybody else ran away from him when Mossy seized control of Iran....

September 6, 1953

The Shah of Iran, back in power, stated that he’d accept financial help from any nation or individual. Does this mean that the crown jewels of Persia, valued between $200,000,000 and $300,000,000, have been used up in supporting the currency of Iran? The fabulous jewels include the 186-caret Ocean of Light diamond and the equally startling 135-caret Mountain of Light diamond. Queen Soraya had her own cache of jewels. The Shah can always “touch” the Aga Khan. It will be remembered that the Aga and his Begum flew from Karachi to attend the Shah’s wedding in February, 1951.

[Most commentators reacted to the Shah’s implied threat of turning to the Soviets for cash, but Sullivan wondered about his own reservoir of riches.]

February 9, 1954

Jane Withers dating Prince Kazzi Kashani, of Iran..... [Hollywood actress]

February 10, 1954

West to Help Get Iran Oil Flowing

London. Feb. 9 (U.R). Experts from eight western oil companies, including five American concerns, flew to Iran tonight to determine how much it will cost to put Iranian oil back on world markets. The inspection tour was the first step in a plan to return Iranian oil to world markets after an absence of nearly three years. Full scale Anglo - Iranian negotiations may be opened later this month, authoritative sources said.

April 12, 1954

News that eight top oil companies of the world have combined to work the Iranian oil fields recalls the magnificent mosque which the oil companies built for Iran, on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The day it was completed, Mossadegh chased the oil men out of Iran. . .

[The Iranian Embassy was at 3003 Massachusetts Ave. NW]

April 17, 1954

Will the five U.S. oil companies in the Iran consortium have to indemnify Anglo-American for the $750,000,000 British oil refinery at Abadan, confiscated by Mossadegh? . . .

One Man’s Opinion: Radio/TV Personality Walter Kiernan on Iran
One Man's Opinion: Radio/TV Personality Walter Kiernan on Iran (1951-1953)


Related links:

IRAN SNIPPETS | More Rim Shots From the Mossadegh Era (1951-53)

Arthur “Bugs” Baer: He’s Got More Iran Jokes Than You Can Stand (1951-54)

“Douglas of the World” in Tehran — the lost 1953 radio program (AUDIO)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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