Smithsonian Collections

Ed Sullivan and the Beatles

Image for Ed Sullivan and the Beatles
Smithsonian Museum
National Portrait Gallery
On February 9, 1964, seventy-nine million Americans gathered around their television sets to watch four young men from Liverpool, England, make history. Ed Sullivan, the "king of Sunday night television," booked the Beatles for three appearances after seeing the response of fans during a stay in London, despite criticism from colleagues that the band was practically unknown in the United States. Following the appearance, the phenomenon of Beatlemania swept the country, causing girls to faint and boys to grow longer hair. John, Paul, George, and Ringo secured their place in American hearts and spurred an invasion of British rock and roll that altered the face of popular music in the United States. This publicity photograph was taken during a rehearsal for the broadcast.
Unidentified Artist
Ed Sullivan, 28 Sep 1902 - 13 Oct 1974
Ringo Starr, born 7 Jul 1940
George Harrison, 25 Feb 1943 - 29 Nov 2001
John Lennon, 9 Oct 1940 - 8 Dec 1980
Sir Paul McCartney, born 18 Jun 1942
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.9 x 22.2 cm (6 5/8 x 8 3/4")
Sheet: 18 x 23.1 cm (7 1/16 x 9 1/8")
Mat: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18")