On Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles made their U.S. television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Millions of viewers rocked to the performance that sparked a musical revolution. In fact, Nielsen ratings say nearly half of all U.S. television sets in use at the time were tuned in to the broadcast of the variety show.
Fifty years after Beatlemania began, tributes to the band can be seen from the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles to JFK International Airport in New York, where the band first landed on American soil.
Karen Gromada, a teenager when the Beatles hit it big, showed up at JFK Airport with a poster of band member Paul McCartney in hand to celebrate the anniversary.
“I was watching the TV that night on the 9th and taking pictures of the TV as a 13-year-old just rapt,” Ms. Gromada said. “I’ve been a fan always.”
Others at the JFK anniversary celebration included John Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, and Jillian L’Eplatenier, one of the Pan Am flight attendants on the Beatles’ first flight to New York.
“The guys were nice, very pleasant and mannerly,” Ms. L’Eplatenier recalls of the flight, “but we didn’t get a chance to talk to them much because they were up running around taking pictures of the crew and everyone else. And it was like, ‘Would you please sit down because we have a cart service to do!'”