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I think there is a whole lot of myth-making involved in the story of how Ed Wynn blew everything in every rehearsal and then miraculously gave one of the most affecting performances of all time when they did "Requiem for a Heavyweight" live; the story seems unlikely, as just about anyone who ever performed in front of an audience can attest. Nonetheless, "The Man in the Funny Suit," the institutionalization of the myth that ran on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1960, with the full participation of both Wynns and Rod Serling, among others, is totally worth watching. I commend it to your attention:
The 1956 live broadcast of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" is one of the most amazing live broadcasts I've ever seen, no, make that *the* most amazing live broadcast I've ever seen on TV. It is so complex that it seems almost unbelievable that this was broadcast live - there were virtually no mistakes at all that I'm aware of. This is pre-Twilight Zone Rod Serling, and is the work he said he was most proud of in his entire career. You can probably find this in higher-quality video, but you can also watch it here for free: They remade the teleplay into a movie in 1962 starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney, and Julie Harris - and if you've ever wondered what it must have been like to fight Muhammad Ali in his prime, this is probably about as close as you'll ever come to knowing. <--- Click on this and watch the first few minutes of the video, trust me.