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50 Throwback Facts About the 1970s

1Richard Nixon

In 1972, President Richard Nixon called Miami Dolphins’ head coach Don Shula before the Super Bowl and recommended that he run a certain play. A week prior, he reportedly did the same thing with the Washington Redskins. Both teams ran the plays he suggested, both plays failed and both teams lost. - Source


2. 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.


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


4. In 1972, the CBC's Peter Gzowski challenged listeners to complete the saying "As Canadian as..." Heather Scott answered the challenge with "... possible under the circumstances." - Source


5. In the 1970s, Boeing fired 63,000 employees in Seattle alone and unemployment rose to 14%, the highest in the United States. Someone put up a billboard that read, “Will the last person leaving Seattle - Turn out the lights.” - Source


6Jose Campos Torres

In 1977, a 23-year-old Mexican-American and Vietnam veteran named Jose Campos Torres was arrested for disorderly conduct at a bar in Houston’s Mexican-American East End neighborhood and was severely beaten by six police officers. The city jail would not process him due to his injuries and ordered the officers to take him to the hospital. Instead, they took him to the Buffalo Bayou River where they pushed Torres in and he drowned. - Source


7. 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. - Source


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). - Source


9. 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. - Source


10. 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.


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11Mark Spitz

American swimmer Mark Spitz, 9-time Olympic champion, jokingly told the Russian swim team coach in 1972 that his mustache increased his speed in the water, deflecting water away from his mouth. Next year, every single Russian swimmer was sporting a mustache. - Source


12. 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.” - Source


13. 'Gay Bob' was one of the first homosexual dolls ever made. The anatomically-correct doll came out in the 1978 amid tons of controversy. The doll was stored in a box made to look like a closet. Esquire awarded the toy the 'Dubious Achievement Award' and the toy sold remarkably well throughout the year. - Source


14. 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. - Source


15. David Bowie considered himself a "closet heterosexual," having declared himself gay in 1972 then bisexual in 1976, but ultimately admitted that those declarations were a mistake.


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16Social loafing

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. - Source


17. 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. - Source


18. 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. - Source


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


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


21Alan Jones

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. - Source


22. 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. - Source


23. 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. - Source


24. An underachieving junior named John Aristotle Phillips from Princeton University successfully designed a nuclear bomb for a term paper in 1977. He got an A on the paper, but the FBI took it and classified it. - Source


25. Robert Williams, a Ford assembly line worker, is the first human in history to have been killed by a robot. He was hit by a robotic arm in 1979. - Source

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