This year marks the 50th anniversary for very important moments in U.S. Olympic history and American pop culture in general. And there’s a special connection between the two.
At the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Olympics, speed skater Terry McDermott was the lone American gold medalist, taking the Olympic title in the men’s 500m race on Feb. 4.
Five days later – on this very day a half-century ago – America was exposed to perhaps the most famous musicians the world may ever know when The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Prior to the band’s historic appearance, McDermott and his wife got to hang out with them backstage before watching their performance from the screaming crowd.
As part of their palling around with musical royalty, McDermott – a part-time barber when he wasn’t competing – took a photo (see above) that had him pretend to cut Paul McCartney’s hair while the rest of the band and Sullivan made fearful faces in jest.
Tonight on NBC’s late night coverage of the Sochi Olympics, you’ll hear more about this unique story.
But in case you can’t wait until then, NBC Olympics’ speed skating producer Willie Cornblatt has written a piece for NBCOlympics.com that not only focuses on McDermott and The Beatles’ link but also on how he defeated the dominant Soviet skater, Yevgeny Grishin, for his Innsbruck gold.
And much like The Beatles, McDermott’s story of Olympic triumph truly rocks.
The event he won gold in, the men’s 500m, goes off tomorrow morning from Sochi at 8 a.m. ET.