The Beatles first arrived in America on February 7, 1964, at New York's Kennedy Airport. Two days later, on February 9, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show broadcast from New York City, reaching an audience of more than 70 million people. The Fab Four would perform again on Ed Sullivan on February 16, in Miami. Those landmark performances are well documented, but one performance on February 12, 1964 has an element of great mystery: missing Beatles concert footage that would be of interest to any Beatles fan!
The Beatles made their Carnegie Hall debut on February 12, 1964. The show was typical of the nascent days of Beatlemania – screaming fans, confused adults, rock and roll. But behind the Beatles, sitting on the Carnegie Hall stage sat a group of individuals, including a woman with a film camera. Who is that woman and what did she capture from that momentous performance? And where is that footage?
With the help from our friends at the Carnegie Hall Archives, we are enlisting Beatles fans from all over the world to assist Carnegie Hall’s Archives and Rose Museum Director, Gino Francesconi, in identifying the mystery lady holding a camera from the Beatles debut concert nearly 50 years ago.
Read what Gino has to say about the photo in the interview below and join in the search to help us uncover the mystery.
What can you tell us about the photo?
The photo comes from a booklet called The Beatles at Carnegie Hall, which documented the group’s trip to the US, but mostly focused on the two Carnegie Hall shows. It contains a number of photos of The Beatles outside the Hall, in the Hall, and rushing out of the Hall. Individual photos from the booklet have circulated for decades.
How long have you been searching for the mystery woman with the camera?
I can’t tell you how many times I looked at that photo without noticing the lady with the camera. Then one day –about 25 years ago when we were curating one of our first Carnegie Hall exhibitions – we blew up the image very large, and whoa …
I contacted Sid Bernstein, whom I had known for years from my days working backstage at the Hall. He was the man who had the idea of bringing the Beatles to the US. By the time Ed Sullivan got to them for his show, Sid had already signed them up for their US tour. I thought for sure he would know who that mysterious woman sitting in the stage seats was, since he controlled the additional seating. But he couldn’t recall other than perhaps she and her companions were friends of Mayor Robert Wagner and Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
Have you been able to find some of the other people in the audience?
In 1991, I had the opportunity to ask Paul McCartney if he knew the mysterious woman on stage. Paul was here for the US premiere of his Liverpool Oratorio, but he didn’t know who she was. I didn’t think he would, but it didn’t hurt to ask. Over the years, I was in touch with several people who were at the concerts. Many saved their ticket stubs, yet no one was willing to part with them. We were contacted by one of the police officers who was on stage with the group right near that lady with the camera. He also assisted them out the backstage door.
One of our former staffers in the booking department told me she went in to the Hall to see what all the fuss was about. All she could see were the mouths of each Beatles member moving, but she couldn’t hear them because the audience was screaming so loudly. I was thrilled when we acquired the only known Carnegie Hall program (where Paul is misidentified as John McCartney!). The program book is autographed by all four members of the Beatles, so I have always been positive thinking that someday we will find the lady with the camera, or she will find us. Perhaps even someone connected to her would get in touch. Click here for the complete story at Carnegie Archives! Can you help us solve the mystery? Send any info to Carnegie Hall Archives!
[all photos courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archives]