The Beatles signed plenty of autographs for fans and on-lookers when they were in the United States in February 1964. But the largest item they signed was part of the wall backstage at the Ed Sullivan show. It is customary in the theater to sign your name on part of a set or a backstage wall during a performance. I have been in enough plays over the years to have been a part of this custom. The names typically get painted over (I wonder how many stars of today had their names painted over in a high school or community theater production green room?). The Beatles participated in this long standing tradition backstage during the Ed Sullivan performance:
"It was a spur of the moment thing," said Jerry Gort, a former Sullivan Show stagehand who was there that night. "They came down from stage right from their dressing rooms, I gave them a marker and asked them to sign the wall." Gort added that Starr, who signed at the top of the wall, was so short that he needed Gort to wrap his arms around the drummer and lift him up. Immediately after, Starr "made a mad dash to get to his drums" in time to play "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."