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What happened in the 1970s - USA?

What happened in the 1970s USA
What happened in the 1970s USA?
Collage from public domain images sourced from wikimedia commons

What happened in America in the 1970s? We look at events, films and music from 1970s in the USA.

In the news

Facts

Films

George Lucas the Director of Star Wars, the highest-grossing movie of the 1970s
George Lucas the Director of Star Wars, the highest-grossing movie of the 1970s
AP Wirephoto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The top grossing films of each year in the 1970s were:

Source: Box office report - retrieved from Wayback Machine

Television

All in the Family was the most popular TV show in the 1970s
All in the Family was the most popular TV show in the 1970s
CBS Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The top-rated TV shows of the 1970s year by year were:

The sitcom 'All in the Family' was the most popular American TV show of the 1970s. The show ran from 1971 to 1979. A spin-off, 'Archie Bunker's Place', continued into the 1980s. The show centred around a prejudiced working-class man, Archie Bunker. There are similarities with UK TV shows 'Till Death Us Do Part' and 'Love Thy Neighbour'.

A close second in the early to middle years of the 1970s was 'Sanford and Son' about a junk dealer in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was based in another UK sitcom about rag and bone men, 'Steptoe and Son'.

Nostalgia was a big theme in popular American TV shows of the 1970s. 'The Waltons' took us back to the 1930s and the War years. 'Little House on the Prairie' took as back to the late nineteenth century. Both dramas centered around rural families.

More recent nostalgia for the 1950s, then only twenty years previous, was the theme for the mid-1970s comedy 'Happy Days' and the spin-off 'Laverne and Shirley'.

M*A*S*H about a mobile US Army surgery in the Korean War provided cult viewing for some.

Westerns were less popular than in previous decades. The long-running series 'Gunsmoke' ended in 1975.

Towards the end of the decade some shows popular in the 1980s started to appear. 'Dallas' showcased the lives of fictional wealthy oil barons and their wives. It paved the way for 'Dynasty' in the 1980s. The emphasis had moved from portrayals of working-class people, whether current or in historical settings, to the glamorous and wealthy.

Music

Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack's had the best-selling record of 1972 and 1973
CMA-Creative Management Associates, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The best-selling pop records of 1970s year by year in the USA were:

Source: USA Top 1000 Singles compiled by Joe Whitburn, published by Guinness in 1986

Sport

American Football - Super Bowl winners

Baseball - World Series winners

Oakland Athletics' pitcher c1973.
Oakland Athletics' pitcher c1973. Oakland Athletics won the World Series three times in the 1970s: 1972, 1973 and 1974
National Archives at College Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)

Fashion

There were plenty of fashion fads in the 1970s: hot pants, platform soles, bow ties, army surplus, Afghan coats, kaftans, t-shirt dresses, mini and maxi skirts, tie-dye t-shirts, cheesecloth shirts and blouses, safety pins inspired by Punk and headbands inspired by Bjorn Borg.

The enduring fashion story of the 1970s was the continued rise of denim.

Jeans were the counter-culture uniform of the 1960s. They were standard wear on campus in the second half of the 1960s. By the 1970s denim was almost universal for men and women.

Campus fashions changed from stove pipes in 1970 to flares in 1971. By the mid-1970s the young abandoned flared jeans, but they remained mainstream fashion for men and women until the end of the decade. [3]

Sales of denim jeans, jackets, skirts and anything else continued to increase throughout the 1970s. At the end of the decade a craze for designer jeans was beginning.

The other lasting fashions crazes of the 1970s were t-shirts and sneakers.

References

[1] 'Statistical Abstract of the United States 1980'

[2] 'The Guinness Book of Records 1980', published by Guinness Superlatives, page 165

[3] 'Year by Year in the Rock Era' by Herb Hendler, published by Greenwood Press, 1983

More on 1970s

By Steven Braggs, August 2021

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Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

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