DescriptionBeatles Signed (with Individual Drawings) Stage Wall Section from February 9, 1964, Appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, their National Introduction to American Fans. An approximately 16" x 48" section of a plastic or fiberglass moveable wall (called a hard wall traveler) that was used as a backdrop during the Beatles first live appearance on American television, a show that was watched by seventy-three million people, 86% of those watching TV that night. Long a hit in their native England and the rest of Europe, this was the night that the Fab Four captured the hearts, minds, and especially the ears of the "colonies." Just before they went onstage for their second set that night, where they performed both sides of the their smash Capitol single "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand," a stage hand named Jerry Gort asked them to sign the back of the moving wall used as a backdrop. He supplied the marking pen and they complied with his request leaving huge and bold signatures on the wall. Paul signed as "Uncle Paul McCartney". Each Beatle also drew a caricature by their autograph. John, Paul, and George signed first and, in order for all four to be in the same section of the wall, Gort had to lift Ringo (who was three inches shorter than the others) up by the waist to sign above the others' signatures and even had to hold the wall with his foot to keep it from moving before Ringo was finished. The drummer had to run to get to his drum kit before the performance started. Included with this lot is a copy of a letter from Gort in which he gives all the details of the signing. He also explains how the wall was ready to be sent to the dump at the end of the TV season but was saved and sent to a young handicapped Beatle fan. The full transcript is available on our website along with a photo of him and his family with Ed Sullivan. Another letter included with this lot is from Bill Bohnert, the art director and set designer at the Ed Sullivan Show who "...designed the sets for the Beatles first appearance in this country in 1964. His letter goes on to say: "Our stagehands asked the Beatles to autograph the back. Eventually, the hard wall was thrown out, but the portion with the autographs was saved." The full transcript of this letter is also available on our website.
This prized piece of Beatles memorabilia hung for years at the popular Southdowns Lounge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The young Beatle fan named Loftin Sproles who had received it in 1964 fell upon some hard times in the mid-1980s and offered to sell it to Rodney Cary, the owner of the lounge. Cary, having just added a kitchen to Southdowns, wasn't sure he could come up with the cash to buy it, but when he and his three-person lunch staff dug into their saved tips, they managed to come up with the asking price. Cary set up a display in his lounge along busts of the Beatles and a script telling the story of the piece of this amazing hardwall traveler signed by the Fab Four. There it stayed until Cary found out how much it might be worth when he and his wife Laurie took it to Los Angeles for exhibit at a Beatles festival. After receiving offers in the six figure range, they took the signed wall piece back to Baton Rouge, placed it in a bank vault, and inserted a photographic replica into the lounge's display. In 2002, Cary decided to sell the signatures to a buyer from New Jersey who flew into Baton Rouge for the sole purpose of making the purchase. He won't reveal the selling price, but Cary did share a portion of the profits with the original owner.
The wall section is professionally mounted in a shadow box display frame ready for display in your own personal Beatle museum. It shows the type of honest wear that one would expect and there are other partial and complete signatures on it from acts that appeared later in the season. One worthy of note is from the Searchers, another Liverpool area group with a history paralleling the Beatles. They appeared on the show April 5, 1964, and one of them wrote: "The Searchers Were Here With Kilroy 4/5/64" and drew a map of England. Also included with the signed wall section is a letter of authenticity from noted Beatle autograph expert Frank Caiazzo in which he says: "...All four have signed beautifully in thick black marker, and each member has additionally drawn a caricature. This is without a doubt one of the top signed Beatles pieces in existence." A full transcript of his letter is also on our website. We certainly can't argue with that assessment. This is a once in a lifetime chance to own a Beatles-signed piece of the set from their first American live performance. Not only that, but an original piece of art from each Beatle. It just doesn't get more exciting than that.
Much is being said and written about 2014 being the 50th anniversary year of the Beatles conquering America. Almost all of it centers on that particular Sunday night, February 9, 1964, and rightly so. We first generation fans had heard their music on the radio, bought the two available albums (if our allowances allowed it), and seen their photos in the papers and on the news. But it really didn't all come together until Ed Sullivan's introduction ended, we heard Paul count off "1-2-3-4," and these four guys from Liverpool launched into an energetic version of "All My Loving." That's all it took for millions of people to become lifelong fans. Not just fans, though. We are all fans of various entities that bring us momentary pleasure- musical acts, TV shows, authors, actors, actresses, athletes, sports teams, etc. First generation Beatle fans are somehow different; it's an admiration that is, in some way, deeper. When we first saw them on Ed Sullivan, we wanted to look like them, to sing and play like them, to learn everything about them (your cataloguer once won a radio station contest by knowing what color Ringo's bathroom was painted). We really, truth be told, wanted to BE the Beatles. Since then, they've given us a lifetime of pleasure and we're quite sure that future generations will celebrate the 75th and 100th anniversaries just as we are celebrating this one. I was a Latin student in school and remember learning the phrase Julius Caesar uttered when he conquered Britain: Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). That could easily be modified in respect to the Beatles conquering America: Venerunt, ludentes, vicerunt (they came, they played, they conquered). And they are still conquering. COA from Heritage Auctions.
FRANK CAIAZZO LETTER, Dated 2014.
"The purpose of this letter is to serve as authentication of the signatures of the four members of the British Rock and Roll quartet known as The Beatles. These signatures are found on an irregularly cut piece of molded plastic, which was at one time part of a larger backdrop that was used as part of the stage design during the band's historic first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. All four have autographed the partition wall quite largely, in thick felt tip marker. In addition to signing, each band member has drawn a caricature. Paul McCartney has also added 'Uncle' before his signature. The backdrop was signed by The Beatles on the day of their historic first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and in fact there is writing in another hand that indicates 'THE BEATLES WERE HERE 2/9/64'. Additional signatures on the left side have nothing to do with The Beatles or their appearance. Cut from the much larger partition before being destroyed and discarded, this piece of the backdrop, which measures 16" x 48", signed by The Beatles at this critical time and physical place in their history, is amongst the very best autographed pieces of Beatles signed memorabilia in existence.
"I hereby guarantee the authenticity of the aforementioned piece of partition from the Ed Sullivan Show which has been signed by all four members of The Beatles. This guarantee is without time limit.
JERRY GORT LETTER, Dated 2006.
"My name is Jerry Gort. I am a retired stage hand who worked at C.B.S. studio 50 now known as the Ed Sullivan theater. I was working there when the Beatles were on the show both times in N.Y. I worked on stage right. The performers coming from their dressing rooms also on stage right had to pass me when going on stage.
"When the Beatles were on the second time, we were using a hard wall traveler. As the Beatles were coming on stage I asked them if they would sign the back of the traveler. Up to that time I know of no acts that had signed anywhere in the theater. I gave them my marking pen (which we used to mark the floor where the sets went).
"They not only signed but drew small pictures. The first three signed in a row. When Ringo's turn came there was no more room at the same height in the square. I put my arms around Ringo's waist and lifted him up so he could sign in the same square. That's why Ringo's signature is higher than the others. They were also ready to begin so I put my foot on the hard wall so they could not open it till Ringo finished signing. When he finished I put him down and he made a mad dash to get to his drums.
"At the end of that season they were going to send the hard wall to the dumps. There was another stagehand by the name of John Colgan who said he knew of a young boy down south in a wheel chair who was a Beatle fan. We cut the piece out and gave it to John to send to the kid. I told that story to my kids and grand kids as they grew up. My grandson called me a few days ago and told me that he read in the Rolling Stone paper that someone had bought that piece of hard wall I used to talk about. I asked him if he could get me the name of the buyer as I thought he might like to know a little about the background of the hard wall. My grandson got me your agents name and that's how I came in contact with you.
BILL BOHNERT LETTER, 2014
"My name is Bill Bohnert.
"I was the art director/ set designer for the final 10 years of The Ed Sullivan Show's run. I designed the sets for the Beatles first appearance in this country in 1964. One of the sets used was a 'hard wall'. It was single wall used as our 'in one'. It acted as a curtain. Comics and other acts worked in front of it while sets were changed behind.
"The front of the wall was covered with sculptural vacuformed plastic sheeting. The back was plywood.
"Our stagehands asked the Beatles to autograph the back. Eventually the hard wall was thrown out, but the portion with the autographs was saved.
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