This find sent the American Pickers team back to 1964. While visiting one of the country’s last drive-in movie theaters, Mike Wolfe and Danielle Colby came across a vintage reel that showed footage of The Beatles stepping off the plane and into the United States for their first performance in the country. Excited about the rare find, the duo knew they had to learn more about the piece.
Michael Harroun owns the Harvest Moon drive-in theater in Gibson City, Illinois. Along with his brother, Harroun has been a film buff since they were kids. Back in the drive-in theater’s heyday, the brothers would drive to Chicago to a film shop to pick up the next movie. One day when they saw the employees throwing out clips, the two decided to go dumpster diving for any unique finds. Thankfully, for the American Pickers team, this included the clip of The Beatles stepping onto the JFK platform to an audience of 3,000 fans. Two days later, on February 9, the band would perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show for 73 million viewers.
Decades later, the footage was still completely intact and runs perfectly. Of course, the next question on the American Pickers stars’ minds had to do with the price tag. For that, they turned to an outside expert named Larry that explained just how rare a find this film was.
According to Larry, part of the film’s rarity came from the reel itself, a 35-millimeter strip. Larry informed the American Pickers and current owners that most films of that size were sent back to the manufacturer. That means they could very well be holding the only clip of The Beatles of that kind in existence.
‘American Pickers’ Take Home Rare Film and One Other Special Object
While the clip of The Beatles was pretty impressive, there was one small catch – the rights to the footage actually belonged to MGM. So, the American Pickers team could still resell the clip to a collector but not a big-time Hollywood producer to show to the masses. That put a huge dent in the item’s worth monetarily, but Wolfe still saw the emotional value of having the film pass through his hands.
And his job with the Harrouns still wasn’t finished. Before laying his hands on the film reel, Wolfe had his sights set on an antique luminaire fan from the 1920s. Wolfe admitted that the fan was in “rough shape,” but with a little love, he could refurbish and resell the piece for a pretty penny. With the two items combined, the American Pickers star was bringing home a huge piece of our nation’s pop culture and history.
As they left, Colby insisted on a private viewing of the legendary clip with whiskey and friends. What better way is there to end the day?