The 1968 Project – December and 1968 Wrap-up

The 1968 Project aimed to highlight some of the historic events of the year. From protests and famous battles to chart-topping popular hits and box office smashing film, 1968 was a huge historical year with reverberations that we still feel today. The 1968 Project looked to grab snippets of these events on a monthly basis and list them here with links for further exploration. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey so far!

December 1st
John Irving publishes his first novel, Setting Free the Bears.

Peter Tork leaves The Monkees and later buys out the remaining four years of his contract.

December 4th
Director and producer, Archie Mayo passes away from cancer in Guadalajara, Mexico.

December 6th
The Rolling Stones release the album Beggars Banquet.

December 8th
Graham Nash decides to leave The Hollies to form Crosby, Stills & Nash with David Crosby of The Byrds and Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield.

Crosby, Stills & Nash self-titled album released in 1969.

Stevie Wonder releases For Once in My Life.

December 10th
Swiss author and Protestant theologian, Karl Barth, passes away in his home in Basel, Switzerland.

Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton, is accidentally electrocuted during a stay at a conference outside of Bangkok, Thailand.

December 11th
The film Oliver! is released in theaters.

Blood, Sweat & Tears releases their self-titled album.

December 12th
American actress, Tallulah Bankhead, passes away in New York City after complications from emphysema.

Tallulah Bankhead as Judith Traherne in the original Broadway production of Dark Victory (1934)

December 14th
Operatic mezzo-soprano, Margarete Klose, passes away.

December 17th
Emory University student, Barbara Mackle, is kidnapped at gunpoint from her hotel room in Decatur, Georgia. Barbara’s kidnappers demanded $500,000 from her father, a wealthy Florida land developer. Mackle was found 83 hours later, buried in a ventilated box.

American mass murderer, Richard Speck, is granted a stay of execution by the Illinois Supreme Court.

December 18th
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the film based on the book by Ian Fleming (James Bond creator), is released in theaters.

December 20th
Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday were parked along Lake Herman Road near Benicia, California. They became the first confirmed victims of the Zodiac Killer.

American novelist, John Steinbeck passes away in New York City at the age of 66 from congestive heart failure.

December 21st
The first manned spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit, reach the moon, orbit it, and return is the Apollo 8. Apollo 8 was manned by Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders. After their splash landing on December 27th, Time Magazine named the crew Time magazine’s Men of the Year.

Taken by Apollo 8 crewmember William Anders on December 24, 1968, at mission time 075:49:07 (16:40 UTC), while in orbit around the Moon, showing the Earth rising for the third time above the lunar horizon.

December 22nd
David Eisenhower, grandson of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, marries Julie Nixon, daughter of U.S. President-elect Richard Nixon.

December 23rd
Taj Mahal releases The Natch’l Blues.

December 24th
The Love Bug is released in theaters.

December 26th
Led Zeppelin makes their American debut at the Denver Auditorium Arena in Colorado.

December 31st
American jazz clarinetist, George Lewis, passes away.

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick, published in “Look” Magazine, 6 June, 1950.

Here are some quick facts from the year:

Average Cost of new house $14,950.00  
Average Income per year $7,850.00  
Average Monthly Rent $130.00  
Gas per Gallon 34 cents  
Average Cost of a new car $2,822.00  
Movie Ticket$1.50  
The Federal Hourly Minimum Wage is $1.60 an hour
The cost of the new sandwich at McDonald’s, the Big Mac, cost 49 cents.

There were 13 riots, over 30 massive protests, 16 plane crashes and 3 hijackings.

1968 was a Leap Year and according to the Chinese zodiac, was the year of the Monkey.

The Vietnam War:
By the year’s end, the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam has reached the all-time peak of 549,000. The U.S. death toll for 1968 is the highest yearly total in the war’s history–nearly 17,000 soldiers killed in action.

World Series Champions: Detroit Tigers 
Superbowl II Champions: Green Bay Packers 
NBA Champions: Boston Celtics 
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadiens 
U.S. Open Golf: Lee Trevino 
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Arthur Ashe/Virginia Wade 
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Rod Laver/Billie Jean King 
NCAA Football Champions: Ohio State 
NCAA Basketball Champions: UCLA 
Kentucky Derby: Forward pass

The top five songs of the year:
Hey Jude – The Beatles
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
Lady Madonna – The Beatles

The Nobel Prize for Literature: Yasunari Kawabata
American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal in Poetry: W.H. Auden
Hugo Award: Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light
Nebula Award: Alexei Panshin, Rite of Passage
Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature: E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Anthony Hecht, The Hard Hours

Airport by Arthur Hailey spent the longest amount of time (18 weeks) on the New York Times best seller list.

Top Grossing Films:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Funny Girl
3. The Love Bug
4. The Odd Couple
5. Bullitt
6. Romeo and Juliet
7. Oliver!
8. Rosemary’s Baby
9. Planet of the Apes
10. Night of the Living Dead 

For a list of PPL titles relating to events of 1968, please click HERE.

The rest of the 1968 Project is linked to below:
November 1968
October 1968 
September 1968
August 1968
July 1968
June 1968
May 1968
April 1968
March 1968
January & February 1968

posted: , by Raminta Moore
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture
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