50 Fascinating Incidents and Facts From the 1970s

26Elmer McCurdy

In 1976, the mummified body of an American bank and train robber named Elmer McCurdy was found in a funhouse in California. McCurdy had died in a shootout in 1911 and his body had been used ever since as a sideshow attraction. His discoverers only realized that it was a human body when his arm broke off, revealing bone and muscle.


27. Clint Eastwood booted Philip Kaufman as director of The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and assumed the job himself. In response, the Directors Guild of America created the Eastwood Rule that prohibits an actor or producer from firing the director and then becoming the director himself.


28. When Australian driver Alan Jones won the 1977 Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the race organizers didn’t have a copy of the Australian national anthem to play at the podium ceremony (unaware that it was “God Save the Queen”). Instead, a drunk person played “Happy Birthday” on a trumpet.


29. Debuting in 1979 as a one-time, 13-part series, "This Old House" was one of the earliest home improvement shows. It was initially controversial among building contractors, and the cast was afraid that they were giving away secrets of the building trades.


30. The first ever documented "high five" was between LA Dodger teammates Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke on Oct 2, 1977. After Baker hit his 30th home run of the season, Burke met him at home plate with his hand held high over his head and Baker smacked it, later saying "It seemed like the thing to do."


31Sesame Street

In 1970, the agency running the new public television network in Mississippi initially voted to not show Sesame Street on the basis of the show being racially integrated. Public pressure when this was leaked forced them to reverse the decision.


32. The only NFL player to have died on the field was Chuck Hughes in 1971. The game continued with a silent crowd in Tiger Stadium in Detroit.


33. In 1973, a helicopter landed in Dublin's Mountjoy prison exercise yard. The guards assumed it was a surprise inspection, until 3 Irish Republic Army prisoners got into it and escaped. When a guard realized that prisoners were escaping in front of his eyes, he shouted, ‘Close the f*cking gates!’


34. In 1974, a US soldier named Robert K. Preston stole a helicopter and flew to the White House in Washington, D.C. As he hovered above the south grounds, the Executive Protective Service shot and injured him, forcing him to land. He only received a one-year prison sentence and $2,400 in fines.


35. In 1976, Eric Clapton made a speech at a concert encouraging the British audience to vote for British politician Enoch Powell, saying that Britain needed to "get the foreigners out, get the wogs out, get the coons out", and repeatedly shouting "Keep Britain White". In response, Rock Against Racism was formed.


363500 mile horse race

In 1976, a 3500 mile horse race was setup to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United States and it was won by a mule.


37. In 1970, Jimmy Carter let a prisoner (Mary Prince) convicted of murder obtain a work release to serve as a maid at the governor’s mansion. He was so impressed with her work that when he was elected president in 1976 he volunteered to be her parole officer and let her continue working at the White House. She was later exonerated.


38. In 1971, a man named John List murdered his family to “save their souls” and arranged their bodies on sleeping bags. He then cleaned up, cut himself out of the family’s photos, turned on a religious radio station, and fled. Only after the lights in the house had burned out one by one did neighbors call police.


39. In 1971, Saddam Hussein imported 95,000 tons of grain treated with fungicidal mercury. The grain was intended for planting, but the Iraqis were unable to understand the English and Spanish warnings or the “skull and crossbones” image. They baked it into bread and ate it. Hundreds of people died.


40. In July 1975, a 17 year old boy was killed while riding his moped. He was killed exactly a year after his 17 year old brother was killed while riding the same moped, in the same intersection, by the same taxi driver carrying the same passenger.


41Red Bull

The Red Bull was actually created in Thailand in 1976 as an energy drink for truck drivers.


42. In 1970, the Oregon Highway Division attempted to blow up a washed ashore dead sperm whale, using half a ton of dynamite, to dispose of its rotting carcass. The explosion threw whale flesh over 800 feet away, crushing cars and almost killing bystanders.


43. The company behind ITT Tech was once one of the biggest conglomerates on Earth. They grossed $8 billion in 1970, were heavily involved in the Brazilian and Chilean coups, and were recently fined $100 million for violations of the Arms Export Control Act.


44. In 1975, $10 million worth of Huey helicopters had to be pushed off the flight deck of the USS Midway and into the sea to make way for the emergency landing of an aircraft with Vietnamese evacuees on board.


45. In 1975, a man named Alex Mitchell died of laughter watching the "Kung Fu Kapers" episode of 'The Goodies'. The skit featured a kilt-clad Scotsman with bagpipes battling a man with a black pudding. His widow later sent 'The Goodies' a letter thanking them for making the final moments of her husband's life so pleasant.


46Olympic relay

During 1976 Olympic relay, the flame was transmitted as a radio signal from Greece to Canada, triggering a laser beam to relight the fire.


47. During the 1979 British Columbia election, MLA Frank Calder was defeated by one vote. He later admitted that he and his wife had neglected to vote.


48. American singer Billy Joel attempted suicide in 1970. He did it by drinking furniture polish because "It looked tastier than bleach." He later released a song called "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" to discourage teenage suicide.


49. TWA Flight 541 was hijacked in 1978 by the daughter of a woman who was killed while hijacking a helicopter to free a federal prisoner, who was in prison for hijacking a TWA flight in 1972.


50. The very first barcode scanned was for a pack of Juicy Fruit in Troy, Ohio on June 26, 1974. The pack of gum and its receipt are now on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

1
2

2 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps the people making the list should have attended ITT Tech (#43). then maybe they would know how to spell ‘coups’ correctly.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here