1972 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1972 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1972

  • World Changing Event: Intel invented the single-chip microprocessor.
  • The Top Song was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack
  • The Movies to Watch include The Godfather, The Getaway, What’s Up Doc, and The Poseidon Adventure.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably President Richard Nixon.
  • Notable books include Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
  • Price of Peter Max sneakers in 1972: $4.44
    Q-Tips: 87 cents/125
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 67.4 years, Females: 75.1 years
  • The Funny Guy was Martin Mull
    The Other Funny Guy was Don Rickles
    The Funny Girl was Lily Tomlin
    The other Other Funny Guy was George Carlin
  • Bloody Sunday: On January 30, British troops shot unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland, killing 13 civilians. Rock band U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday memorialized the event.
  • Try our 1972 Quiz!

Top Ten Baby Names of 1972

Jennifer, Michelle, Lisa, Kimberly, Amy, Michael, Chris, Topher, James, David, John

The Hotties, Sex Symbols, and Fashion Icons

Adrienne Barbeau, Dyan Cannon, Veronica Carlson, Lynda Carter, Pam Grier, Peggy Lipton, Caroline Munro, Ingrid Pitt, Maria Schneider, Barbra Streisand, Shelia Roscoe, Diana Ross

Sex Symbols, Hollywood Hunks, and Leading Men

Richard Roundtree, Burt Reynolds, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley

“The Quotes”

“Hey, Mikey! He likes it!”
– Life cereal ad

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
-United Negro College Fund

” It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”
– Frank Perdue

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
– Marlon Brando, in The Godfather

“Nothing runs like a Deere.”
– John Deere

“Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”
– Sara Lee

“In the fall of 1972, President Nixon announced that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a sitting president used the third derivative to advance his case for re-election.
– Hugo Rossi (said in 1996)

Time Magazine’s Men of the Year

Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger

Miss America

Laura Lea Schaefer (Bexley, OH)

Miss USA

Tanya Wilson (Hawaii)


Vesna Vulović holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute: 10,160 m (33,330 ft; 6.31 mi). She was the sole survivor after a briefcase bomb tore through the baggage compartment of JAT Flight 367 on January 26, 1972. 

In 1972, Ted Bundy was appointed to the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee.

The Deaths and Scandals

The Iranian blizzard of 1972 was the deadliest in history. It dropped up to 26 feet of snow and killed over 4,000 people. Those who survived the minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures were trapped without water, food, heat, and medical aid for days. George Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee in 1972 for violating obscenity laws. His crime was delivering his “Seven Dirty Words” bit in public.

On June 17, agents of the Richard Nixon (Republican) White House and the Nixon reelection campaign were arrested while breaking into the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which at the time was located in Washington D.C.’s Watergate Complex.

Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam, supporting the communist side of the war, earning the nickname “Hanoi Jane”.

Scottish Musician Les Harvey of the band Stone the Crows was electrocuted in front of a live audience in 1972 when he touched an un-grounded microphone cable and his guitar at the same time.

Bloody Sunday in Derry, Northern Ireland, 14 unarmed protestors and civilians were shot by British paratroopers. U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was based on this event.

The Watergate Break-in

In June 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C., an event seen as a catalyst for the eventual downfall of President Richard Nixon.

The break-in happened during an election year and led to an investigation by journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who uncovered multiple cases of abuse of power by the Nixon administration, including a connection to the White House’s secret taping system, which was used to spy on political opponents.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon became the first US president to resign from office and faced criminal charges for his role in Watergate. While the full extent of Nixon’s involvement is still debated today, it is clear that the Watergate Scandal marked one of the biggest presidential scandals in American history.

SALT I – Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

On May 27, 1972, United States President Richard Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty limited the US and USSR to 2 anti-ballistic missile complexes with 100 missiles each, and the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles was frozen at the then-existing levels. It was negotiated during Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) I in May of that same year. This treaty came about after both countries realized they could not win a nuclear war against one another due to their equivalent number of nuclear weapons. The treaty also served as a foundation for future arms control agreements. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was the first time a US president visited the Soviet Union since World War II. It marked an essential step in improving relations between the two countries.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is still in effect today despite being over 50 years old. Anti-ballistic missiles can be launched to intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missiles. Anti-ballistic missile systems have been developed by both the US and Russia to protect their countries from nuclear attacks. Still, they also make it possible for a country to launch an attack on another without fear of retaliation. Anti-ballistic missile systems such as the US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Russia’s A-235, also known as Nudol, have been developed, but there has not been a need to use them. Anti-ballistic missiles are deployed around major cities to protect them from incoming nuclear weapons and other ballistic missiles.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is an integral part of arms control and nuclear disarmament. It has prevented both the US and Russia from deploying more anti-ballistic missiles. The treaty also serves as a foundation for future arms control agreements. Anti-ballistic missile systems are becoming increasingly important as more countries develop ballistic missiles.

Now You Know

Walt Disney wasn’t cryogenically frozen. He was cremated, and his ashes were interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The rumor that he wanted to be frozen was started in 1972 by the president of the California Cryogenics Society and has since been denied by Disney’s family.

Pop Culture Facts & History

Former teen idol Ricky Nelson was booed off stage at a rock ‘n roll reunion concert at Madison Square Garden in 1971. He took that horrible experience and wrote a song called Garden Party. It reached #6 on the US Top 100 in 1972.

The word ‘spam’ used about e-communications (commonly emails) comes from a 1972 Monty Python sketch in which two customers are lowered into a restaurant, and everything on the menu contains spam. The connection is that you can’t escape unwanted spam no matter what you want.
Doritos were introduced in 1964 as plain tortilla chips. Taco flavor was introduced in 1967, and nacho cheese in 1972.

The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ was over once and for all when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in three straight tennis sets.

Jerry Lewis wrote, directed, and starred in a movie (The Day The Clown Cried) about a Jewish man who dresses as a clown to lead children into gas chambers in the Holocaust; upon screening, Lewis had the film locked in a vault so nobody would see it, but he donated a copy to the Library of Congress, and it could be released in June 2024.

The Great Daylight Fireball (US19720810) was an Earth-grazing fireball that passed within 35 miles of Earth’s surface on August 10, 1972. It entered Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 9.3s per second in daylight over Utah, United States, and passed northwards, leaving the atmosphere over Alberta, Canada.

On August 4, 1972, dozens of sea mines randomly exploded off the coast of Hon La, Vietnam for no apparent reason. In 2018, it was discovered that a huge Solar Storm had been the culprit, triggering magnetic sensors on the sea mines, which led to explosions.

The famous baseball mascot “The San Diego Chicken” has been played by the same dude in all official appearances (aside from a short replacement period during a lawsuit) since its debut in 1972.

DC Comics has owned the rights to the original Captain Marvel since 1972. However, trademark conflicts with Marvel have resulted in DC marketing the hero under the name “Shazam!”

Ray Tomlinson invented internet-based email.

The Mecha genre of science fiction was founded in Japan. The first depiction of Mecha Super Robots piloted by a user from within a cockpit was introduced in the manga and anime series Mazinger Z by Go Nagai in 1972.

In 1972, Nolan Bushnell founded Atari with an investment of $250.

The first commercial home video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey. It was released in 1972 and cost $100 (equivalent to about $611 in 2019)—an individual game price of $5.49.

Time Warner launched HBO (Home Box Office).

Chrysler brought electronic ignition to automobiles.

A Canadian radio station, CBC, held a poll to find a national simile (like ‘As American as apple pie’). The winning response was “As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.”

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg introduced her knit jersey dress style.

Clothes had a lot less static cling in 1972, thanks to the introduction of Bounce dryer sheets.

1972 was when Carnival Cruise Lines began sailing.

In 1972, there were only 12 paramedic units in North America. The TV show Emergency! Starring Randolph Mantooth as Johnny Gage introduced people to pre-hospital care and CPR.

While initial planning started in the 1920s, household dish cleaner ‘Dawn’ was released in 1972.

In 1972, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad formed a pop music group in Sweden. They used their first initials to name their band… ABBA.

Singer and guitarist Chuck Berry’s only number-one single was a live recording of a raunchy New Orleans tune called My Ding-a-Ling.

The U.S. Men’s Basketball team was 63-0 in Olympic History going into the finals of the 1972 Munich Olympic finals. The loss, by one point to the Soviet team in one of the most controversial events in Olympic history. The U.S. team never accepted their silver medals in protest.

Mark Spitz, a nine-time Olympic champion, jokingly told the Russian swim team coach in 1972 that his mustache increased his speed in the water, deflecting water away from his mouth. The following year, every Russian swimmer was sporting one.

The Dallas Cowboys hired the NFL’s first professional cheerleading squad in 1972.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1972: $86,000

The Biggest Films of 1972

1. The Godfather (Pop Culture Classic)
2. The Poseidon Adventure
3. What’s Up, Doc?
4. Deliverance
5. Jeremiah Johnson
6. Cabaret
7. The Getaway
8. Last Tango in Paris
9. Lady Sings the Blues
10. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
11. The Valachi Papers
12. Sounder
13. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
14. Pete ‘n’ Tillie
15. Frenzy
16. The Candidate
17. Shaft’s Big Score! (Blaxploitation)
18. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
19. Butterflies Are Free (Pop Culture Classic)
20. Frenzy
21. Silent Running (Pop Culture Classic)
22. Play It Again, Sam
23. Solaris (Pop Culture Classic)
24. Ben (Pop Culture Classic)
25. The Magnificent Seven Ride
26. The Concert for Bangladesh
27. And Now For Something Completely Different
28. The Heartbreak Kid
29. Man of La Mancha
30. Slaughterhouse-Five
31. Snoopy, Come Home (animated)
32. Fritz the Cat (adult cartoon)
33. Sleuth
34. Dracula A.D. 1972 (Pop Culture Classic)
35. Blackula (Blaxploitation)
36. The Last House on the Left
37. 1776 (Musical)
38. The Mechanic
39. Panch Villa
40. Sounder
41. Dumbo (reissue from 1941)
42. Joe Kidd
43. Bluebeard
44. The Cowboys
45. Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (Disney)
46. Across 110th Street
47. Cool Breeze (Blaxploitation)
48. Fuzz
49. The Ruling Class
50. Pink Flamingoes
*Movies beyond the Top Ten are based on (a somewhat subjective) ranking based on how much they had a long-lasting effect on Pop Culture.

Doomsday Clock

Twelve minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1972: “The United States and Soviet Union attempt to curb the race for nuclear superiority by signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The two treaties force a nuclear parity of sorts. SALT limits the number of ballistic missile launchers either country can possess, and the ABM Treaty stops an arms race in defensive weaponry from developing.”

The Habits

Pong (arcade), Hacky Sacks.
Watching The Godfather in theaters.

1st Appearances & 1972’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Pong, Dawn dolls, Hacky Sack, Seance Game, Nerf Football

Best Film Oscar Winner

The French Connection (presented in 1972)
Charlie Chaplin was given a 12-minute standing ovation at the Academy Awards gala in 1972, the longest in the Academy’s history.

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1972

August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Deathwatch by Robb White
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth
Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins
Shane by Jack Schaeffer
Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Wheels by Arthur Hailey
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
The Word by Irving Wallace

East End Show:

Jesus Christ Superstar (Musical) Opened on August 9, 1972, and closed on August 23, 1980

Broadway Shows

Grease (Musical) Opened on February 14, 1972, and closed on April 13, 1980
Pippin (Musical) Opened on October 23, 1972, and closed on June 12, 1977

1972 Most Popular TV Shows

1. All in the Family (CBS)
2. Sanford and Son (NBC)
3. Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
4. Maude (CBS)
5. Bridget Loves Bernie (CBS)
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS)
7. Gunsmoke (CBS)
8. The Wonderful World of Disney (NBC)
9. Ironside (NBC)
10. Adam 12 (NBC)

1972 Billboard Number One Songs

December 25, 1971 – January 14, 1972:
Brand New Key – Melanie

January 15February 11:
American Pie – Don McLean

February 12February 18:
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green

February 19March 17:
Without You – Nilsson

March 18March 24:
Heart of Gold – Neil Young

March 25April 14:
A Horse With No Name – America

April 15May 26:
The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack

May 27 – June 2:
Oh Girl – Chi-Lites

June 3June 9:
I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers

June 10June 30:
The Candy Man – Sammy Davis, Jr.

July 1 – July 7:
Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond

July 8July 30:
Lean on Me – Bill Withers

July 29August 25:
Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’ Sullivan

August 26September 1:
Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass

September 2September 15:
Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan

September 16September 22:
Black and White – Three Dog Night

September 23October 13:
Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me – Mac Davis

October 14October 20:
Ben – Michael Jackson

October 21November 3:
My Ding-A-Ling – Chuck Berry

November 4December 1:
I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

December 2December 8:
Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations

December 9December 15:
I Am Woman – Helen Reddy

December 16, 1972 – January 5, 1973:
Me and Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul


World Series Champions: Oakland Athletics
Superbowl VI Champions: Dallas Cowboys
NBA Champions: Los Angeles Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Boston Bruins
U.S. Open Golf Jack Nicklaus
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Ilie Nastase/Billie Jean King
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Stan Smith/Billie Jean King
NCAA Football Champions: USC
NCAA Basketball Champions: UCLA
Kentucky Derby: Riva Ridge

Sports Highlight

Sandy Koufax was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the youngest player ever elected, at age 36.

More 1972 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Born in 1972 (OverTheHill.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1972X
1972 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Facts.net 1972
10 Facts And Historical Events
1970s, Infoplease.com World History
1972 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games
Remembering 1972 (HuffPo)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1970s Slang
Wikipedia 1972