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!
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.
Director and producer, Archie Mayo passes away from cancer in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Rolling Stones release the album Beggars Banquet.
Graham Nash decides to leave The Hollies to form Crosby, Stills & Nash with David Crosby of The Byrds and Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield.
Stevie Wonder releases For Once in My Life.
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.
The film Oliver! is released in theaters.
Blood, Sweat & Tears releases their self-titled album.
American actress, Tallulah Bankhead, passes away in New York City after complications from emphysema.
Operatic mezzo-soprano, Margarete Klose, passes away.
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.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the film based on the book by Ian Fleming (James Bond creator), is released in theaters.
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.
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.
David Eisenhower, grandson of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, marries Julie Nixon, daughter of U.S. President-elect Richard Nixon.
Taj Mahal releases The Natch’l Blues.
The Love Bug is released in theaters.
Led Zeppelin makes their American debut at the Denver Auditorium Arena in Colorado.
American jazz clarinetist, George Lewis, passes away.
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
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
6. Romeo and Juliet
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.