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October 10, 2015

When did The Beatles make their U.S. television debut?

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 9th 2009 5:09PM
The Beatles and Ed SullivanApparently, it wasn't The Ed Sullivan Show, as most of us think.

Sure, that was their first major, nationwide U.S. TV appearance where they actually performed, but what show did they first appear on in general? When Walter Cronkite died recently, CBS showed footage of Cronkite's CBS Evening News broadcast from December 1963 -- a rebroadcast of what ran on the CBS Morning Show on November 22; it was going to run on Cronkite's show that night too but you can guess why it didn't -- where they showed footage of an interview that someone did with the group. Sullivan saw the footage and called Cronkite because he wanted them on his show.

But now Brian Williams' NBC Nightly News blog says that the group's first appearance was actually a few days earlier, on November 18, a piece by Edwin Newman on The Huntley-Brinkley Report.

This is actually interesting, especially if you're a TV history geek, but I'm not sure why anyone is rushing to figure out when the Beatles' first "appearance" was, as if footage of an interview on a news broadcast is equal to a full-fledged performance that introduced the group to the U.S., which is what people are talking about when they talk about the groups first appearance on U.S. television. And I think that would still be Sullivan's show. If I'm wrong, let me know in the comments.

Here's video of the CBS Evening News report (funny how the guy says of their fans: "some of the girls can write" and has a generally "whatever" attitude towards the group) and the Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Also: The Beatles: Rock Band was released today too!

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I just played the new Rockband Beatles game....it was a hoot. I'm not good at games, but I must brag...I kicked ass on vocals.

September 09 2009 at 10:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

Ralph: Yup, he did, though it was on film from Britain and not live in the studio. Here's Paar talking about it:


September 09 2009 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Beatles did a full number on Jack Paar's Tonight show some weeks before appearing on Ed Sullivan. Not an interview; a FULL number. I saw it. And I have wondered for decades why no one else seems to remember this.

September 09 2009 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ralph's comment

You're correct, Ralph. However the Beatles' appearance on Paar was actually filmed in England while their performance on Ed Sullivan was their 1st LIVE performance on American TV.

February 09 2012 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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