Throwback Thursday: When Beatlemania hit America

Fifty years ago Sunday, the Beatles performed for American audiences for the first time on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” They sent all their loving. The U.S. sent all its screaming teenage girls. And journalists sent all their jokes about long hair, invasions, insects and teenage hysteria.

Take for instance the Associated Press report The Times carried (headline: “Squeal, Sigh, Yell: Girls Go Bug-Eyed as Beatles Perform”) about the “Ed Sullivan” performance:

“The Beatles -- four British lads who sing when they are not busy running away from barbers -- made their American television debut Sunday night -- and some things may never be the same.

The seats in the Columbia Broadcasting System studio where they appeared live on the “Ed Sullivan” variety show were given more of a workout by jumping and squirming from teen-age girls than were the fast-moving singers by their routine.


The four mop-topped entertainers, who came here Friday from London, provided their own musical background with string and percussion instruments.

Throughout their two appearances during the show, the 721 members of the audience -- mostly young girls -- kept up a steady stream of squeals, sighs and yells.

The four British imports, appearing for a total of about 20 minutes on the hour-long show, may well have ended up with second billing.

Camera crews were lavish in their shots of the audience, showing young girls leaping from their seats, throwing their arms into the air and staring bug-eyed. Some appeared as if on the verge of a coma, staring open-mouthed.”

PHOTOS: Vintage Disneyland

You can see photos of the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. above, and read The Times’ coverage here.

Were you around for Beatlemania? Share your memories. And check out the scene in Los Angeles in August 1964, when the Beatles played at the Hollywood Bowl: Beatlemania arrives in Los Angeles.

Can’t wait until next Thursday for an L.A. Times throwback? Follow the L.A. Times Past Tumblr.


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