1968 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1968 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1968

  • World Changing Events: Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis during the garbage workers strike, and Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles during his presidential campaign.
  • The Top Song was Hey Jude by The Beatles
  • Influential Songs include Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Vanilla Fudge, and Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon) by The Moody Blues.
  • The Movies to Watch include Funny Girl, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bandolero!, Night of the Living Dead, Planet of the Apes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Odd Couple, The Love Bug, and Yours Mine and Ours.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Paul Newman.
  • Notable books include: The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Daniken.
  • Price of a postage stamp in 1968: 6 cents
    Chevrolet Impala sport coupe: $3,468.00
    Panasonic Tape Recorder: $29.95
  • The Funny Guy was: Woody Allen
  • The Other Funny Guy was Bill Cosby
    The Funny Lady was Carol Burnett
  • The Conversation: Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lém with a pistol shot to the head. The execution was captured by photographer Eddie Adams and helped many people question the Vietnam War.
  • Take our 1968 Quiz!

Top Ten Baby Names of 1968

Lisa, Michelle, Kimberly, Jennifer, Melissa, Michael, David, John, James, Robert

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Ewa Aulin, Honor Blackman, Veronica Carlson, Julie Christie, Yvonne Craig, Catherine Deneuve, Barbara Eden, Barbara Feldon, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Peggy Lipton, Virna Lisi, Ann-Margret, Elizabeth Montgomery, Caroline Munro, Turia Mau, Julie Newmar, Ingrid Pitt, Diana Rigg, Elke Sommer, Stella Stevens, Sharmila Tagore, Twiggy, Raquel Welch, Barbara Windsor

Sex Symbols, Hollywood Hunks and Leading Men

Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, Peter Fonda, Marvin Gaye, Robert Goulet, Jimi Hendrix, Englebert Humperdink, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen, Roger Moore, Jim Morrison, Joe Namath, Paul Newman, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Omar Sharif, William Shatner

“The Quotes”

“Book ’em, Dano”
– Jack Lord in Hawaii 5-0

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”
– Virginia Slims Cigarettes

“I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.”
-Hal 5000, in 2001: A Space Odyssey

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”
– Keir Dullea, in 2001: A Space Odyssey

“Ring around the collar”
– Wisk Laundry Detergent

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
– Johnny, in Night Of The Living Dead

“Hello, gorgeous.”
– Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice, in Funny Girl

“Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”
– Charlton Heston, in Planet of the Apes

“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford the carriage
But you look sweet upon the street
On a bicycle built for two.”
– Hal 9000

The Quote for the 21st Century

Philip K. Dick, the author of the science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, said, “There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be, ‘My phone is spying on me.'”

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Apollo 8 Astronauts (William Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell)

Miss America

Debra Barnes (Pittsburgh, KS)

Miss USA

Dorothy Anstett (Washington)

The Assassinations

April 4 – James Earl Ray assassinated Reverend Martin Luther King.
June 5 – Sirhan Bishara Sirhan assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D, NY).

The Scandals

The Heidi Game AFL Championship Game: With the Jets leading 32-29 with only 65 seconds left, the Raiders quickly scored 14 points to win, 43-32. Meanwhile, millions of American television viewers could not see Oakland’s comeback. The NBC television network cut off the live broadcast for a pre-scheduled airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children’s story.

Since there were no real Movie Ratings set up in October 1968, Night of the Living Dead was released at a Saturday Matinee.

Philadelphia Eagles Fans booed Santa Claus and threw snowballs at him. The real Santa could not attend, so Eagles management approached a fan to do the job…

Lin Zhao’s parents learned their daughter was executed in 1968 only after a Chinese Communist Party official asked them to pay the five-cent fee for the bullet used to kill her.

The Doors’ Jim Morrison, at a Miami concert, drunkenly screeched, “There are no rules!” and exposed his privates.

Pop Culture Facts & History:
The Harlem Globetrotters were from Chicago, IL. Founded in 1926, it wasn’t until 1968 that they played in Harlem, NY.

Best known for developing microprocessors today, Intel was founded.

A college football game between Harvard and Yale ended in a 29-29 tie, but the next day, the Harvard Crimson ran the headline “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29”. Since Yale had been so heavily favored, Harvard viewed the tie as a de facto victory.

Aretha Franklin won the first ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’ Grammy Award in 1968 and won the same Grammy Award for the following seven consecutive years (1968-1975).

21-year-old Chemical Bank employee Francine Gottfried was called “Wallstreet’s Sweater Girl” and was known for catching people’s eye (mostly men) on her walk to work each morning for a few weeks in September 1968.

The film Grand Budapest Hotel was shot at 1.37, 1.85, and 2.35:1 ratio, matching the film ratio of the referred time, to inform the viewer where he is in the timeline, which alternates between the 1930s, 1968, and 1985.

The Candy Desk, a tradition of the US Senate since 1968, whereby a senator who sits at a desk near a busy entrance keeps a drawer full of candy for members of the body.

Singer Presents… Elvis (aka The ’68 Comeback Special) aired on NBC.

Snoopy is NASA’s official safety mascot. Every astronaut since 1968 has been given a silver Snoopy pin to bring into space. After returning, the astronauts present the pin as a special recognition to a civilian team member who helped keep them safe.

John Lennon, after taking a large amount of LSD, called an emergency meeting of The Beatles to inform them that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated.

Some people were upset that Memorial Day was changed in 1968 to be the last Monday of May rather than the 30th, saying: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day.”

Andy Warhol was fortunate to survive an assassination attempt by Valerie Solanas in 1968. He had been declared dead in the emergency room and had nine damaged organs, and he never fully recovered- he had trouble eating and swallowing for the rest of his life and wore a girdle to hold in his bowels.

Robert P. McCulloch bought the (New) London Bridge for $2.5 million, had it dismantled in England, and shipped it to Lake Havasu, AZ, as a tourist attraction for his new retirement real estate development.

Voter turnout for US Presidential Elections has been below 60% since 1968, until 2020. The highest voter turnout for a US presidential election was in 1876, with 81.8% of males over 21 voting. Republican Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio won despite Democratic Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York earning most of the popular vote.

In what was the most-watched television broadcast at the time, the crew of Apollo 8 read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. The founder of American Atheists responded by suing the United States government, alleging violations of the First Amendment.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1968: $54,000

The Sequel:
1988 Christmas (?), Film Die Hard is a sequel to Frank Sinatra’s 1968 movie The Detective.

Civil Rights

Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles Shulz, creator of Peanuts, about the racial strife gripping the United States following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Their correspondence convinced him to create the character of Franklin.

In 1968, Major League Baseball delayed its opening day for three days to honor the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress when she was chosen to represent New York’s 12th district. When Chisholm became the first black candidate to seek her party’s nomination for President of the United States in 1972, her campaign slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed.”

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two African-American athletes who gave the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, were also shoeless (socks only) during the protest. This was to represent black poverty. Peter Norman, the third man in the iconic black power salute photo from the 1968 Olympics, was treated as an outcast when he returned to Australia. He wasn’t given a formal apology until six years after his death. Both Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral.

The last 3rd Party Candidate to win a state in the US presidential election was George Wallace (August 25, 1919September 13, 1998), who ran on a pro-segregation platform in 1968.

Hundreds of anti-lynching bills were introduced from 1882 to 1968. The Senate would not pass them. In 2005, the Senate formally apologized for stopping these bills.

In addition to profanity and depictions of sex in film, the Hays Code of 1930 to 1968 also forbade depictions of interracial relationships.

The Censored Eleven Cartoons

11 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons were deemed too politically incorrect to air, and United Artists withheld them from syndication. They have not been seen on regular television since Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936), Clean Pastures (1937), Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937), Jungle Jitters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938), All This and Rabbit Stew (1941), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943), Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943), Angel Puss (1944), Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (1944).

Vietnam War

On April 23, 1968, students protesting the Vietnam War took over Columbia Univ. in NYC, occupying buildings for a week.

African-American Dan Bullock altered his birth certificate so that he could join the Marines in 1968. Six months later he became the youngest service member to die in combat in Vietnam. He was 15.

My Lai Massacre: a company of American soldiers killed over 500 civilians of My Lai on March 16, 1968. The incident was covered up for over a year and only one man was convicted, William Calley, of the 14 charged. Given a life sentence of house arrest in 1971, he was paroled in 1974.

Vietcong AP Photojournalist Eddie Adams took a photograph of an officer shooting a handcuffed prisoner in the head at point-blank range and earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Although it changed the viewpoint of the war in many American’s eyes, the victim was, in fact, a Vietcong ‘revenge squad’ leader, having killed dozens of (unarmed) civilians that very same day.

Cold War

The United States lost an H-Bomb (serial number 78252) in a crash off the Thule, Greenland US Airbase.

The USS Pueblo (AGER-2), an American vessel was captured by North Korea. The crew was abused, and to show the world, they gave the middle finger in propaganda photographs, claiming it was a “Hawaiian good luck sign”.

The USS Scorpion (SSN-589), a nuclear submarine that sank in deep water in 1968 is still resting at the bottom of the sea a few hundred miles southwest of the Azores, Portugal. Its nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons have never been recovered.

Sea Mystery

There were four mysterious submarine disappearances. The USS Scorpion, the Israeli submarine INS Dakar, the French submarine Minerve, and the Soviet submarine K-129 all went down.

The Champion

In the 1968 Olympics, Kenyan Kipchoge Hezekiah Keino was late for the 1500m final because he was stuck in traffic. He ran 2 miles to make it to the event on time and still won the gold. He was also suffering from Gallstones.

The Mother Of All Demos

The computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing, hypermedia, object addressing and dynamic file linking, bootstrapping, and a collaborative real-time editor were all demonstrated for the first time.

Doomsday Clock

Seven minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1968: Regional wars rage. U.S. involvement in Vietnam intensified, India and Pakistan battle in 1965, and Israel and its Arab neighbors renew hostilities in 1967. Worse yet, France and China develop nuclear weapons to assert themselves as global players. “There is little reason to feel sanguine about the future of our society on the world scale,” the Bulletin laments. “There is a mass revulsion against war, yes; but no sign of conscious intellectual leadership in a rebellion against the deadly heritage of international anarchy.”

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Luis Walter Alvarez
Chemistry – Lars Onsager
Physiology or Medicine – Robert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana, Marshall W. Nirenberg
Literature – Yasunari Kawabata
Peace – René Cassin

1st Appearances & 1968’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Don’t Break The Ice, Hot Wheels, Battling Tops, Silly Putty*, Whirlee Twirlee
* Silly Putty originally came out in 1950 but gained new popularity when it was announced that the Apollo astronauts brought some to the moon (stress relief, they said).

More Firsts

Nikolai Konstantinov made the first computer animation. “Kitty” was created with BESM-4. It’s a silhouette of a cat.

The earliest computer animation was started in 1967 by Charles Csuri of a hummingbird.

Hot Wheels were introduced in 1968.

Roy Jacuzzi invented the first self-contained, fully integrated whirlpool bath and named it the Jacuzzi®.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on NET (now PBS)

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was dedicated.

Semiconductor company Intel was founded.

On February 16, 1968, Alabama Senator Rankin Fite made the first 911 call in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. It was a test, not a real emergency.

Best Film Oscar Winner

In the Heat of the Night (presented in 1968)

Broadway Shows

Plaza Suite (Play) Opened on February 14, 1968, and closed on October 3, 1970
Hair (Musical) Opened on April 29, 1968, and closed on July 1, 1972
Promises, Promises (Musical) Opened on December 1, 1968, and closed on January 1, 1972

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1968

A Small Town in Germany by John le Carre
Airport by Arthur Hailey
Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever by Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Daniken
Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
Couples by John Updike
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The Double Helix by James D. Watson
The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker
Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal
The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Preserve and Protect by Allen Drury
The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs by Linda Goodman
Testimony of Two Men by Taylor Caldwell
The Tower of Babel by Morris L. West
Vanished by Fletcher Knebel

1968 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (NBC)
2. Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (CBS)
3. Bonanza (NBC)
4. Mayberry R.F.D. (CBS)
5. Family Affair (CBS)
6. Gunsmoke (CBS)
7. Julia (NBC)
8. The Dean Martin Show (NBC)
9. Here’s Lucy (CBS)
10. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)

1968 Billboard Number One Songs

December 30, 1967 – January 19, 1968:
Hello Goodbye – The Beatles

January 20February 2:
Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) – John Fred & His Playboy Band

February 3February 9:
Green Tambourine – The Lemon Pipers

February 10March 15:
Love Is Blue – Paul Mauriat

March 16 – April 12:
(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

April 13May 17:
Honey – Bobby Goldsboro

May 18May 31:
Tighten Up – Archie Bell & the Drells

June 1June 21:
Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel

June 22July 19:
This Guy’s In Love With You – Herb Alpert

July 20August 2:
Grazing In The Grass – Hugh Masekela

August 3August 16:
Hello, I Love You – The Doors

August 17September 20:
People Got To Be Free – The Rascals

September 21 – September 27:
Harper Valley P.T.A – Jeannie C. Riley

September 28November 29:
Hey Jude – The Beatles

November 30December 13:
Love Child – Diana Ross & The Supremes

December 14, 1968 – January 31, 1969:
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye


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

More 1968 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1968X
1968 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
1968 Flu Pandemic
History.com: 1968
1960s, Infoplease.com World History
1968 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1968 Television
1960s Slang
Wikipedia 1968
YourDictionary.com 1968