On September 25, 1965, ABC debuted The Beatles, a 30-minute Saturday morning cartoon that became a smash hit for the network. The legendary British rockers were first immortalized in animated glory, lending their music to the show.
The series used the music of the Beatles to frame the individual episodes, each of which centered on the completely made-up and fanciful adventures of the boys from Liverpool. Perhaps best known as the voice of Boris Badenov from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, actor Paul Frees voiced the characters of John Lennon and George Harrison, while Lance Percival provided the voices of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Airing from 1965 until 1967 in its original run, and through 1969 in reruns, the show lasted for a total 39 episodes that reportedly marked the first time an animated series had portrayed real, living people.
According to the book Beatletoons: The Real Story Behind the Cartoon Beatles, the Fab Four hated the show at first, but later embraced its campy portrayal of the period when they still sported mop tops and suits. "I still get a blast out of watching the Beatles cartoons on TV," John Lennon said in 1972.
The Beatles series was re-broadcast in 1980 and again in 1987 by MTV, and later by the Disney Channel. Apple Corps, Ltd. purchased the rights to the show in the '90s.