Beatlemania! “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” released in December, shoots to No. 1 on the charts and stays there for 7 weeks. Five days earlier, Capitol Records released "Meet the Beatles." Capitol spent most of 1963 resisting such a release, convinced the Beatles had no U.S. audience.
Sir Winston Churchill, the British prime minister who led his country through World War II, dies at his home at age 90, ten days after suffering a stroke. The next day, Parliament will vote to authorize a state funeral, the first held for a commoner in the 20th century.
“Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” As of today, that warning appears on the side of every pack sold in the U.S. This, the New York Times reports, is a victory for Big Tobacco, because in exchange, the government agrees not to interfere with the selling of tobacco.
The Rolling Stones release “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” and radio stations are appalled just by the title. In a January 15 appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show," the Stones must sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” Meanwhile, radio stations play the record’s B side — “Ruby Tuesday.”
North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces launch a wave of simultaneous attacks. The Tet Offensive, so called because it coincided with the Lunar New Year, or Tet, was a turning point in the Vietnam War. Americans, realizing the nation’s limitations half a world away, began to turn against the war.
Richard Nixon is inaugurated the 37th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he describes his nation: “We find ourselves rich in goods, but ragged in spirit; reaching with magnificent precision for the moon, but failing into raucous discord on earth.” He would resign 5 and a half years later.
"M*A*S*H*" premieres in theaters. Robert Altman’s classic take on the Korean War had its own share of on-set strife. At one point, actors Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland tried to get Altman fired. Said Gould in 2009: “ [We] were two elitist, arrogant actors who really weren’t getting Altman’s genius.”
"All in the Family" premieres on CBS, featuring the shocking sound of a toilet being flushed — this in an era when all six Brady kids shared a bathroom that had no toilet at all. The mere sound of the flush, happening offstage, could send the show’s live audience chortling.
Thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators are shot dead by British Army paratroopers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The event, which drew worldwide attention to the strife in Northern Ireland and sparked protests across Ireland, would become known as “Bloody Sunday” and would be immortalized in the 1983 U2 hit “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its ruling in Roe v. Wade, making abortion legal in all 50 states. Americans on both sides of the contentious issue are stunned by the sudden turn of events. “This is extraordinary,” Dr. Alan Guttmacher, president of Planned Parenthood, tells NBC Nightly News.
Notre Dame snaps UCLA basketball’s record-breaking, 88-game winning streak, beating John Wooden’s Bruins 71-70 in a hard fought match in South Bend, Indiana. The Irish trailed by 11 points with three and a half minutes left in the game. But then they launched an aggressive press that caught UCLA off guard.
"The Wiz," an African-American retelling of "The Wizard of Oz," opens on Broadway. The critics — mainly white men — are bemused. “I found myself unmoved for most of the evening,” wrote Clive Barnes in the New York Times. Audiences disagree. The show mushrooms into a mega-hit and wins 7 Tony Awards.
Barry Manilow's single “I Write the Songs” hits No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It will later win the Grammy for Song of the Year. Manilow was initially reluctant to record the song, worrying that listeners might interpret it as a “monumental ego trip.”
Apple Computers files for incorporation. At the time, its only product is the Apple I, a computer without a keyboard, monitor or case. The introduction of the Apple II in April will popularize the idea of the personal computer. Thirty years later, the company will rename itself simply Apple.
The soundtrack from "Saturday Night Fever" hits No. 1 on Billboard’s album charts, and stays there for the next 24 weeks straight. Hollywood and moviegoers agree — soundtrack-based dance films are a magical combination. The '80s will see such "Fever"-inspired hits as "Flashdance" (1983), "Footloose" (1984) and "Dirty Dancing" (1987).
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi flees for Egypt as Iranian crowds demand the return of the Ayatollah, now in exile in France. Nevertheless, U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims his support of the new prime minister. “Tell President Carter Khomeini is our leader,” a demonstrator says to a reporter. “Tell Carter to shut up.”
President Jimmy Carter issues an ultimatum: The U.S. will boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow if the Soviet Union does not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within a month. The Soviets do not, and the Americans stay home. Sixteen years later, one disappointed athlete says, “I may forgive, but I’ll never forget.”
And the '80s start now. "Dynasty," ABC’s answer to CBS’s hit drama "Dallas," premieres on January 11, shoulder pads and all. Meanwhile, on January 20, Ronald Reagan takes the oath of office. Minutes later, Iran releases the 52 hostages who had been held captive for 444 days.
America’s recession continues, but President Ronald Reagan tells a New York civic group that thrift and harder work — “surprisingly, it won’t take much” — could end the slowdown “faster than expected.” If his administration’s incentives caused Americans to work 30 minutes more a week, he noted, “the gross national product will grow by $25 billion.”
University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant dies, 28 days after his final game. During his 25 years as Alabama’s head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Other coaches stood in awe of him. "He was simply the best there ever was," former Nebraska coach Bob Devaney says.
Clara Peller first asks, "Where's the beef?" in the classic commercial for Wendy’s hamburgers. The 4’ 10” Russian émigré — she had to stand on a box to film the scene — had worked in and owned manicure shops across the Chicago area for 35 years before her big Hollywood break.
South African President PW Botha offers to free Nelson Mandela if he denounces violence. “Let him renounce violence,” Mandela declares through his daughter. “I cannot sell my birthright, nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free.” He will spend five more years in prison.
The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after takeoff, killing the five men and two women onboard. Thousands of spectators gathered to witness the launch watch first in wonder, then horror, as the ship bursts into flames above their heads. It is the first time U.S. astronauts died in flight.
AIDS ravages the gay community, but not even Liberace will own up to having the disease. His publicist confirms he is gravely ill — due to a combination of emphysema, pneumonia and anemia. After his death on February 4, an autopsy will determine the flamboyant entertainer died of an AIDS-related illness.
“They stole my title and I had to come back.” So declares boxer Larry Holmes as he bursts out of retirement to face new heavyweight wonder Mike Tyson. But Holmes doesn’t come back for long — Tyson knocks him down three times in the fourth round, until the referee stops the fight.
The Episcopal Church appoints its first female bishop. Barbara Harris is a civil rights activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. After a career in corporate public affairs, she enters the ministry in 1980 and is an early and forceful voice for the advancement of women in the church.
It’s a beautiful day in Moscow — sun’s out, sky’s blue. So why the line, stretching for miles, curving around block after city block? One word — McDonald’s. Two months after the Berlin Wall fell, eager Russians shell out the equivalent of several days’ wages for Big Macs, shakes and fries. Watch here.
NBC launches "Seinfeld" in a regular slot, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. It was supposed to premiere a week earlier, but was bumped due to the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War. Slowly but surely, Americans warm to a sitcom whose writers have this mantra for their characters: “No hugging, no learning.”
Bill Clinton, Democratic candidate for President, goes on "60 Minutes" with his wife, Hillary, to respond to rumors that he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers. “I have acknowledged causing pain in my marriage,” he says. “I have said things to you tonight … that no American politician ever has.”
A quarter century after Martin Luther King Jr. died and seven years after President Reagan made the day a federal holiday, the MLK holiday is observed in some form in all 50 states. However, it will be another seven years before Utah recognizes it by name and South Carolina makes it a paid holiday for all state employees.
Lorena Bobbitt is acquitted as a jury rules she was temporarily insane when she sliced off her husband’s penis. The Ecuadorian-born manicurist claims to have endured years of abuse from her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt. “A life,” her lawyer argues in her opening statement, “is more valuable than a penis.”
O.J. Simpson shows the judge a leather glove allegedly used in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman during testimony in Simpson's murder Opening statements begin in the murder trial of former football star O.J. Simpson. Spectators gasp as the prosecution flashes, on a giant overhead screen, grisly photos of Simpson’s alleged victims: his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson, seated at the defense table, scribbles notes furiously and does not look up. (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage)
For the first time in history, a First Lady is subpoenaed by a grand jury. Hillary Clinton emerges from the closed door session investigating the Whitewater scandal to tell reporters: “I tried to be as helpful as I could.” Ultimately, prosecutors will not find enough evidence to warrant bringing the Clintons to trial.
Dennis Rodman is suspended from the NBA for 11 games without pay, and fined $25,000, for kicking a cameraman in the groin when his Chicago Bulls played in Minneapolis earlier in the week. Last season, Rodman was suspended twice, once for head-butting a referee and once for screaming at officials.
President Clinton, eyes narrowed, one finger stabbing at the air, says: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time — never." Nineteen days earlier, Monica Lewinsky had signed an affidavit saying she did not have an affair with the president.
The Euro becomes the official currency in 11 European nations. Euro coins and notes will not be in circulation for three more years, but banks and stock exchanges must carry out transactions in euros when the market reopens on Monday. Financial institutions work nonstop to convert everything in three days.
Potter Mania! Harry Potter novels top the New York Times bestseller list, taking all of the top three spots. But some of the old guard still doesn’t get it. NYT columnist William Safire calls for “a little perspective.” These children’s books, he says, are “a waste of adult time.”
President George W. Bush is inaugurated, less than ten months before the 9/11 attacks will turn his, and the nation’s, worldview upside down. Today he says that, unlike in our tempestuous past, “America's faith in freedom and democracy … is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.”
In his first post-9/11 State of the Union, President Bush coins the term “Axis of Evil” to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden flees to Pakistan and militants there kidnap Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. His murder will later be videotaped and posted online.
U.N. weapons inspectors cannot find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Americans say give them more time. A CBS poll finds 63% of Americans want President Bush to find a diplomatic solution. But in a New York Times op-ed, then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice writes that Iraq “should know that time is running out.”
Howard Dean comes in third place in Iowa Caucuses. His resulting speech is “the scream heard ‘round the world.” Not only does it tank his candidacy, it provides ample fodder for comedians. Says Craig Kilborn: "We just received word from police that Howard Dean is loose and may be armed with a microphone."
Actors Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston separate after 4 and a half years of marriage. What’s the reason? Surely, not infidelity? “She was surprised,” a source close to Angelina Jolie, his costar in the then-upcoming "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," tells People magazine. “There’s not a doubt in her mind that he never cheated on Jennifer.”
“Yes, I’m pregnant,” Angelina Jolie tells People magazine. She is expecting a child this summer with Brad Pitt, both stars confirm. Jolie co-starred with Pitt in 2005 in the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," though he denies she was the reason behind the breakup of his marriage to Jennifer Aniston.
“An iPod. A phone. An Internet communicator. These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it … iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” So says Apple CEO Steve Jobs as unveils the first iPhone to a cheering, whooping crowd at the 2007 Macworld conference.
The country may be heading into recession, the New York Times reports. “All the momentum is pointing down,” says one Wall Street insider. To wit: the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 306 points the day before. Also, the Standard & Poor’s index is off to its worst January on record.
Barack Obama is inaugurated, becoming the nation’s first African-American president. A crowd of 1.8 million packs the National Mall to witness the event. The man who campaigned on “Change We Can Believe In” tells the nation: “We must pick ourselves up … and begin again the work of remaking America.”
The average young American now spends practically every waking minute he or she is not in school using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, says a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only about three in 10 kids say their parents set limits on their media use.
Tucson, Ariz.: Jared Loughner takes a cab to a Safeway parking lot, pulls out his 9-mm. Glock with a 31-bullet extended magazine, and shoots Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the forehead as she chats with constituents. He keeps shooting, killing 6 people and wounding 13 more before witnesses wrestle him to the ground.
Penn State football coach Joe Paterno dies of lung cancer, two months after his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is indicted and arrested on multiple charges of sexually abusing young boys. Many of the alleged incidents occurred when Sandusky served on Paterno’s staff. The university fired the much-winning football coach on Nov. 11.
The Pentagon announces it will lift the ban on women in combat. Women “are serving in a growing number of critical roles on and off the battlefield,” says Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. “The fact is that they have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission.”