I Saw Them Standing There
Adventures of an Original Fan during Beatlemania and Beyond
by Debbie Gendler - Foreword by Robb Weller
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Pub Date 6 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 9 Feb 2024
Globe Pequot, Backbeat
After February 9, 1964, everyone wanted to be Debbie Gendler. On that date, she was just one of a relative handful of lucky fans who were in the live audience for The Beatles’ historic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show—an iconic television event viewed in the living rooms of 73 million Americans. Everyone has a story to share about where they were when they watched the appearance, but very few were there in person—and even fewer would actually go on not just to meet the Beatles, but end up building an entire career around the band. But Debbie did.
This is the story of a New Jersey teenager who managed to accomplish what millions only dreamed about. Prior to the Beatles arrival in America, Gendler met with the group’s manager Brian Epstein regarding the establishment of a U.S. Fan Club. Atthe start of the Beatles’ historic 1965 summer tour, she was the only teen to welcome them to America, and after their press conference at The Warwick Hotel she finally meets them in person.
Continuing her journey, Debbie recounts her unique and sometimes wacky experiences having witnessed first-hand some of the most historic events in pop culture. She shares concert antics from Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Shea Stadium and Suffolk Downs and describes the mayhem outside the Plaza Hotel and later that year at the Delmonico Hotel chanting for the Beatles. Organizing fans to sleep on Broadway to purchase tickets for A Hard Day’s Night, representing the Official Beatles Fan Club on television, and promoting the Ringo for President novelty record are just some of the requests she fulfilled as one of the band’s leading ambassadors in the US. This coming-of-age tale details the adolescent journey of a devoted Beatles fan in all her youthful innocence against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, and a shifting cultural landscape.
Debbie Gendler is a 4-time Emmy nominated Talent and Development Executive and Producer formerly at CBS New York and Los Angeles, and ABC, and who also served as Women in Film’s (LA) first Executive Director. Debbie is responsible for developing over 9,000 episodes of television with Weller/Grossman Productions for thirty-six broadcast and cable networks including the launches of HGTV and the National Geographic Channel in the United States. Identifying talent and building show concepts is Debbie’s expertise with many of today’s notable hosts and experts being introduced to networks by Debbie. As an “original” Beatle fan who was in the studio audience for the group’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, she has given countless interviews on television, radio and podcasts including the CBS Grammy 50th Beatle Anniversary Show where her interview traveled around the world as part of a Grammy Exhibit, and on the accompanying DVD to Ron Howard’s feature documentary on the Beatles. Now sixty years later Debbie works as a research consultant and co-producer at SOFA Entertainment, owner of The EdSullivan Show.
Debbie is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication and enjoys the non-housewife life with her husband in Beverly Hills, California.