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Walter Cronkite remembers his part in the Beatles story
[Posted by Dave Haber on Saturday, 07/18/09 8:55 am] [Full Blog] [Tweet] [Facebook]

The Beatles arrived in America at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964, and performed for the first time on American TV on Sunday, Feb. 9. The show was viewed by over 73 million Americans. But it was not their first appearance on TV in America. And that appearance on Ed Sullivan might not have happened the way it did, without the help of another man, Walter Cronkite.

In November of 1963, Alexander Kendrick at CBS News alerted Walter Cronkite to a story about a group of young men called the Beatles. Josh Darsa and a London film crew had spent an evening filming at a live performance by the long-haired musicians and their screaming girl fans. But it was a busy news week, and the story didn't immediately go on the air. Then, a few days later, President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, and it wasn't until the second week in December until Walter Cronkite decided it was appropriate to start doing feature news again.

In his foreword to the book "The Beatles Are Coming" by Bruce Spizer, Walter Cronkite remembers what happened next.

"We decided to broadcast Kendrick's Beatles piece on our Evening News program. Shortly after we were off the air, I got a call from Ed Sullivan, who was a friend of mine. He was excited about the story we had run on the long-haired British group. He said, 'Tell me more about those, what do they call them? Those bugs or whatever they call themselves.' I didn't remember the group's name and had to look down on my copy sheet for the Evening News broadcast to tell him, 'They are called the Beatles.' Ed wanted to know what I knew about the group, which was next to nothing. I told Ed I would query my guy in London. I sent my query to Alexander Kendrick and requested he contact Ed. I don't know what happened after that, but soon Ed was announcing that he would have the Beatles on his show."

Walter Cronkite, the "most trusted man in America," passed away Friday evening with his family by his side at his home in New York after a long illness. He was 92.

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