1970s: At a Glance

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1970s: At a Glance

What We Said:

Bogue: Disgusting or distasteful.

"Don't leave home without it": An advertising line used by American Express to remind its customers that they could use their cards nearly anywhere. Advertising-saturated Americans began using this slogan in everyday speech.

Dweeb: A loser or social outcast.

"Get a clue!": A warning that one should figure out what is going on.

Gnarly: Very cool or good.

Groupies: Fans—usually women—who followed rock stars from concert to concert, sometimes offering sexual favors.

"Like": An interjection used by teenagers to interrupt and add emphasis to their speech, as in "She was, like, so bogue." When combined with "totally," it could be used to express real approval: "Like, totally!"

Male chauvinist pig: A man who thinks women are inferior. This label was used by feminists in the women's liberation movement to blast those men who resisted their efforts to gain equal rights. Archie Bunker of TV's All in the Family was often called a male chauvinist pig.

Me Generation: A term used to describe people who left behind the social activism of the 1960s and focused on improving their own souls through a variety of self-help methods.

"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is" (1977): Part of a popular advertising jingle for Alka-Seltzer, this catchy phrase was used to describe anything that brought relief.

"Yo!": Similar to "Hi" or "Hey," this greeting was popularized by Sylvester Stallone in the movie Rocky (1976).

What We Read:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970): This important history of the effect of white settlement on Native Americans, written by Dee Brown, was the rare historical work to become a best-seller.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (1970): Though the sexual revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s brought renewed sexual experimentation to the country, people still had questions about sexuality. This book, by Dr. David Reuben, answered them in a lighthearted way and stayed near the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists for nearly a year.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970): This parable by Richard Bach told the story of an outcast seagull who seeks perfection. Its quasi-spiritual tone appealed to readers of every religion, and it remains in print into the twenty-first century.

Love Story (1970): Erich Segal's story of the love between a talented Harvard athlete and his dying girlfriend was the publishing sensation of the year, with 21 hardcover printings and an initial paperback print run of 4,350,000. It was quickly made into a movie starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw.

The Exorcist (1971): William Peter Blatty's fifth novel was the first horror story to make it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. The tale of a priest exorcising the demons from a young girl was made into a classic horror film in 1973.

Ms .(1972–): This magazine of the women's liberation movement was founded by prominent feminists Gloria Steinem and Patricia Carbine.

The Joy of Sex: A Cordon Bleu Guide to Lovemaking (1972): This illustrated guide to lovemaking techniques by author Alex Comfort offered help to many seeking sexual advice—and shocked others. Helpful or shocking, the book was in the top five on the best-seller list for nearly a year.

Watership Down (1972; 1974 in the United States): This exciting tale of a group forced to flee its home because it is being threatened by a developer had an interesting twist: the protagonists were rabbits. The publishers could not decide whether Richard Adams's story was for adults or children, but one thing was sure: everybody was reading it.

All the President's Men (1974): Written by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, this exposé revealed how the authors discovered the Watergate cover-up that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

People (1974–): The respectable version of a supermarket tabloid, People magazine provided insider gossip and lots of photos of celebrities, politicians, and other stars. It remains the country's leading "personality" magazine.

Roots (1976): Alex Haley's historical saga about his family began with Kunta Kinte, a native of Gambia who is sold into slavery in the New World. Haley's tale followed the family's difficult journey from slavery up to the present day and in 1977 was made into a television miniseries that is considered one of the best of its kind.

Your Erroneous Zones (1977): One of the key books of the 1970s self-help movement, this book by Wayne Dyer offered to make psychology simple enough for everybody and to help people lead happier lives. Dyer's book sold millions of copies and he remained a popular motivational speaker in the twenty-first century.

The Complete Book of Running (1978): James Fixx's book on running came right at the peak of the jogging craze in America, and the popularity of the book made the author a rich man before his untimely death in 1984.

What We Watched:

Marcus Welby, M.D .(1969–76): Robert Young played the title role of a concerned general practitioner.

All in the Family (1971–79): This sitcom brought realistic situations, frank language, and controversy to American television. The show centered around the blue collar lives of Archie Bunker and his wife, daughter and son-in-law.

The Flip Wilson Show (1970–74): This variety show hosted by African American comedian Flip Wilson featured skits, music, and appearances of the hilarious "Geraldine" (Wilson in drag).

Sanford and Son (1972–77) : This show about a grumpy widower and his son was the first sitcom to feature a nearly all-black cast since Amos 'n' Andy nearly twenty years earlier. Redd Foxx, who played Sanford, would make people laugh as he threatened to join his dead wife by grabbing his chest and pretending to have a heart attack, yelling "I'm coming to join you, Elizabeth!" in nearly every episode.

M*A*S*H (1972–83): This long-running sitcom was set in a hospital camp during the Korean War and came to be one of TV's finest examples of intelligent, socially relevant programming. The final episode, aired on February 29, 1983, was seen by over 50 million viewers worldwide.

Happy Days (1974–84): Suburban life in the 1950s was romanticized in this TV comedy show, which highlighted drive-ins, leather jackets, muscle cars, and solid family life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The show centered around the everyday life of the Cunningham family and the character Fonzie, a single young man who epitomized coolness.

Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983): A spinoff of Happy Days, this sitcom, set in the 1950s, featured the misadventures of two single Milwaukee women, who shared an apartment and worked at a local brewery.

The Godfather (1972): The most influential gangster film of American cinema and the first of Francis Ford Coppola's trilogy about the Mafia.

The Exorcist (1973): The first blockbuster horror film, released after one of the most extensive preview hype campaigns. Reporting about the film's ill-effects on people even overshadowed the Watergate scandal for a short time, and its graphic violence led to new film industry regulations.

Watergate hearings (1973–74): America and the world turned on their TV sets to watch Nixon administration figures testify about the Watergate break-in and cover-up. The scandal eventually led to the first resignation of an American president, Richard Nixon.

Jaws (1975): Steven Spielberg's first major film became the first film to make more than $100 million on it initial release. With a mix of adventure, horror, and fun, the movie centered on a series of shark attacks and made audiences around the world more than a little nervous about swimming in the ocean.

Star Wars (1977): The first of George Lucas's space fantasy movies quickly established itself as a groundbreaker due to its special effects and film-related merchandise.

What We Listened To:

KISS: The flamboyant rock band was wildly popular with teenagers mostly due to members' far-out costumes and high-energy concerts that featured smoke bombs, spit blood, and breathed fire.

Elton John: The most popular pop singer/songwriter of the 1970s. Of his nineteen albums during the decade, fifteen went gold or platinum, and he continued to produce songs that ranked in the Top Forty into the 1990s.

All Things Considered : This cultural affairs and news show debuted on National Public Radio (NPR) in 1971.

The Jackson 5: The five Jackson brothers had six top five singles by 1971. The group's littlest brother, Michael Jackson, had turned 12 in 1970 and would soon become a superstar on his own. Some of their most popular songs were "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There."

Rod Stewart: This British singer became popular as a solo artist with his hit song "Maggie May" in 1971.

Marvin Gaye: The successful Motown singer of the 1960s reached new heights when he released soul music that expressed both political and very personal issues. Hits included "What's Going On," "Mercy Mercy Me," and "Let's Get It On."

Kool & the Gang: This group laid the ground work for funk music with the hits "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swinging" in 1974.

Donna Summer: The queen of disco music scored big with such hits as "Love to Love you Baby" and "Last Dance."

Peter Frampton: In 1976, Frampton Comes Alive became the biggest selling live rock album at the time, selling more than six million copies and catapulting the former Humble Pie guitarist into brief superstardom.

The Carpenters: The brother and sister team of Richard and Karen Carpenter, sang sweet, innocent lyrics to light, pleasant melodies, hitting the Top Ten twelve times during the decade.

Rolling Stones: The rock and roll tunes of Mick Jagger and the boys remained popular throughout the 1970s; the Stones also toured the United States in 1975.

Who We Knew:

Woody Allen (1935–): Known for his quirky looks and comedic timing, Allen has become known as one of the most creative American film makers. During the 1970s, Annie Hall (1977), his semi-autobiographical movie about life and living in Manhattan, won him critical praise and was his most popular film.

Louise Joy Brown (1978–): The first "test-tube" baby. Born in England in 1978 by a process now known as in vitro fertilization, the little girl's birth caused many to wonder in awe and fear of the possibilities of science. The process used to create Brown is now used commonly by many couples with infertility problems.

Jane Fonda (1937–): The daughter of movie star Henry Fonda, this beautiful actress became a tremendously popular (and sometimes hated) public figure as she pursued her political agenda, led millions to better health as an ambassador for aerobic exercise, and became the wife to three powerful and wealthy men (film director Roger Vadim, 1965; politician Tom Hayden, 1973; and billionaire Ted Turner, 1991).

A. J. Foyt (1935–): The first racecar driver to win four Indianapolis (Indy) 500 races.

Jimmy Hoffa (1913–1975): The powerful Teamsters union figure led the union as vice-president in 1952 and as president in 1957 but was imprisoned in 1967 due to corruption charges. President Nixon agreed to commute his sentence in 1971 if Hoffa resigned as the Teamsters president. Hoffa disappeared in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, in 1975; never seen since, he is thought to have been murdered.

Billie Jean King (1943–): The winner of twenty Wimbledon titles and four Grand Slam tournaments, this women's tennis champion beat former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match in 1973. Riggs had hoped to prove that men were better athletes than women, but King proved him wrong in front of fifty million TV viewers and thirty thousand live fans.

Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994): The 37th U.S. president was the first chief executive to visit China and the first to resign under threat of impeachment. He was pardoned in September 1974 by his successor, Gerald Ford.

Richard Pryor (1940–): This African American comedian entertained audiences with hilarious jokes and stories about everyday black culture experiences. His performances were based on his personal and sometimes tragic social circumstances. His struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, a heart attack, a suicide attempt, and the onset of multiple sclerosis disrupted his very popular work.

Mark Spitz (1950–): This U.S. swimmer was the first Olympian to win seven gold medals at one Olympics (Munich, 1972). He had already won four Olympic medals in 1968. After his Olympic successes, he became the first athlete to earn millions of dollars by endorsing products.

Gloria Steinem (1934–): This political activist for women's rights cofounded the Women's Action Alliance in 1970 and the feminist magazine Ms.

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1970s: At a Glance

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1970s: At a Glance