70s in Focus: 37 Captivating Incidents and Facts From the 1970s

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1Martha Moxley

Martha Moxley

In 1975, a 15-year-old girl named Martha Moxley was beaten to death, with the primary suspects in the murder being Kennedy-Cousins Thomas and Michael Skakel. Although Michael Skakel was overheard in 1978 stating, "I'm going to get away with murder. I'm a Kennedy", it was not until 2002 that he was convicted.

2. Chilean Sea Bass is just a fancy name that was made up in 1977 to get Americans to eat the Patagonian Toothfish.

3. In 1970, when Debbie Reynolds was the highest paid woman on television with 42% of the viewing audience, she quit her show because NBC was running cigarette commercials during its airtime.

4. In the 1970s, professional 10 pin bowlers made twice as much money as NFL players.

5. Hells Angels attempted to Kill Mick Jagger in 1975. They tried to drive a boat up to the Long Island Mansion where he was staying at, however, the boat sank and the Hells Angels members on the boat had to swim for their lives.

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6John Wayne

John Wayne

John Wayne, in a 1971 interview with Playboy, said: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves.”

7. A researcher in the 1970s conducted an experiment in which he blindfolded participants and told them they were going to play tug-of-war against another team. When they were told they had 3 others pulling with them, they pulled 18% less strenuously than when they were told they were alone. This effect is now known as social loafing.

8. Under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in 1970s, people in Cambodia were killed in the killing fields for being academics or even for merely wearing eyeglasses (as it suggested literacy).

9. In 1973, IBM offered its UPC barcode proposal to the grocery industry for free. The industry accepted a very close standard of their proposal. However, IBM also made the first technology capable of reading the bar codes and made tons of money selling the equipment to grocery stores.

10. On January the 1st, 1976, the Hollywood sign was modified to read 'Hollyweed' after some pot-head pranksters added $50 of fabric to it.

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11Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

When the Queen band wanted to release Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975, various executives suggested to them that, at 5 minutes and 55 seconds, it was too long and would never be a hit.

12. A study titled "Where Are They Now?" in 1978 followed up on 515 people who were prevented from attempting suicide using the Golden Gate Bridge from 1937 to 1971. About 90% were either alive or had died of natural causes, concluding "suicidal behavior is crisis-oriented" rather than inexorable.

13. A drunk and driving incident destroyed the Soviet spy network in the UK. After being arrested in London in 1971, a KGB agent named Oleg Lyalin panicked and offered the names of every Russian spy in UK. The UK government expelled 105 people from the country, and the Soviet spy network in Britain “never recovered.”

14. In 1978, a Knox-class destroyer escort named USS Stein (FF-1065) was attacked by an unknown species of giant squid. Nearly all of the cuts found on the sonar dome contained remnants of sharp, curved claws found on suction cups of squid tentacles. The claws were much larger than those of any squid that had been discovered at that time.

15. 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.

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16Eastwood Rule

Eastwood Rule

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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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."

20. 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.

21Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes

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.

22. 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!’

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

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