For a long time there didn’t seem to be a controversy about who first introduced The Beatles. It was Ed Sullivan, right? Well, no and yes.
NBC News’ DailyNightly blog is taking issue with a “CBS Evening News” report in July that claimed Walter Cronkite, not Ed Sullivan, should have been credited with introducing the Beatles to U.S. TV audiences, says TVNewser.com.
In fact, the blog says, “The Beatles made their U.S. television debut on November 18, 1963, on NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report, that era’s leading network evening newscast.”
CBS didn’t air a report on The Beatles until December. Also in December, 1963, NBC’s Jack Paar ran a clip of the Beatles on his primetime show (after he retired from "The Tonight Show.")
So what of the famous Beatles appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show?" That’s where most Americans remember seeing The Beatles for the first time. What is undisputed is that the Sullivan appearance was the first time the group had actually performed on a U.S. show. All the previous footage–including that on NBC and CBS (including what Paar aired)–was filmed material, mostly shot in the U.K.
–Elizabeth Jensen and Chuck Ross