1978 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

1978 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

Quick Facts from 1978

  • World Changing Event: Louise Brown, the first “test-tube baby,” was born healthy in Oldham General Hospital, UK.
  • The Top Song was Night Fever by The Bee Gees.
  • The Movies to Watch include Grease, Every Which Way But Loose, Superman, and Heaven Can Wait.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Muhammad Ali.
  • Notable books include Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett and The World According to Garp by John Irving.
  • 1200 Watt hairdryer: $9.99
    Price of a postage stamp in 1978: 15 cents
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 69.6 years, Females: 77.3 years
  • The Funny Late Night Host: Johnny Carson
  • The Big Pay Day: Marlon Brando was paid a record $3.7 million and 11.75% of the gross profits for 13 days’ work on Superman.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1978

Jennifer, Melissa, Jessica, Amy, Heather, Michael, Jason, Chris, Topher, David, James

The Sex Symbols, Hotties, and Fashion Icons

Loni Anderson, Barbara Bach, Adrienne Barbeau, Kim Basinger, Valerie Bertinelli, Dyan Cannon, Lynda Carter, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Harry, Kate Jackson, Marilu Henner, Lauren Hutton, Maria João, Cheryl Ladd, Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Bernadette Peters, Victoria Principal, Diana Ross, Jane Seymour, Brooke Shields, Jacquelyn Smith, Suzanne Somers, Donna Summer, Cheryl Tiegs, Lindsay Wagner, Mary Woronov

Leading Men and Hollywood Heartthrobs

Christopher Reeve, John Travolta, Warren Beatty

“The Quotes”

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”
– John Belushi in National Lampoon’s Animal House

“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
– John Vernon in National Lampoon’s Animal House

“Za Plane! Za Plane Boss!”
-Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), Fantasy Island

“Nanoo Nanoo!”
Robin Williams as Mork (from Ork)

“Toga! Toga!”
“Food Fight”
– John Belushi as John “Bluto” Blutarsky in National Lampoon’s Animal House

“We’re from France.”
-The Coneheads, on Saturday Night Live

“Here’s to good friends.”
– Lowenbrau beer

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Deng Xiaoping

Miss America

Susan Perkins (Columbus, OH)

Miss USA

Judi Anderson (Hawaii)

The Scandals

The FBI set up “Abdul Enterprises, Ltd.” and posed as Middle Eastern businessmen. They videotaped talks with government officials, where they offered money in return for political favors to a fictional Middle Eastern businessman. 11 U.S. government officials were out of a job after this bribery and conspiracy scandal.

There has been some debate about 3M’s Post-it notes. The product was used in a marketing campaign in 1978 as ‘Post N Peel’ and sold nationally in 1980 as ‘Post-it Notes.’ New products are in ‘test mode’ all the time. We say 1980.

12-year-old Brooke Shields starred in Pretty Baby, a film about a whorehouse.

The Twinkie Defense appeared. Dan White killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone. The jury agreed that he had diminished mental capacity from eating too many Twinkies.

Jim Jones got  909 followers to commit suicide (including many children) by drinking poisoned Flavor-Aid in his Jonestown commune. A misunderstanding led to why “Drink The Kool Aud” emerged.

The Unabomber sent his first bomb to Professor Buckley Crist at Northwestern University—the result was a slight injury to Officer Terry Markman.

A computer “testing malfunction” caused the United State’s Defense System to go from an “at ease” DEFCON 1 to a “fire up the missiles” DEFCON 5.

Star Wars Holiday Special

The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special featured the main actors from Episode IV.  It is generally considered pretty bad. It also introduced Boba Fett.

Rock Star Deaths

Keith Moon (accidental overdose of prescription medication)

Both Mama Cass and Keith Moon died in Harry Nilsson’s London apartment 4 years apart – in 1974 and 1978.


2,300 students in Harrisburg, PA, tried to set a WR for the largest tug-of-war game. Instead, disaster ensued. The 2,000ft long braided nylon rope snapped, recoiling several thousand pounds of stored energy. Nearly 200 students lay wounded, 5 with severed fingertips, and hundreds more faced 2nd-degree burns.

UFO Connection

Pilot Fredrick Valentich and his plane disappeared during a UFO encounter. His last communication was, “Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again… (two seconds open microphone)… it is hovering, and it’s not an aircraft…”. He described “4 points of light of an elongated UFO”.  Recent astronomical simulations show a perfect diamond formed by Mercury, Venus, Mars, and nearby star Antares was in the sky then.

1978 Pop Culture Facts & History

Ben and Jerry opened their first ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont.

There is a “WELCOME TO CLEVELAND” sign on a rooftop in the flight path of a Milwaukee airport. It has been confusing passengers since 1978. Mark Gubin, the creator, said: “Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.”

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler made it to the top of Mount Everest, the first to do so without supplementary oxygen.

The first Test Tube Baby, Louis Brown, was born.

Home Depot was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to Charmin makers Procter & Gamble, a 1978 survey found that Mr. Whipple was the third best-known American, behind former President Richard Nixon and evangelist Billy Graham. (And ahead of then-president Jimmy Carter.)

Horst Rechelbacher invented Aveda shampoo.

Actor John Cazale only ever appeared in 5 movies over six years (1972-1978), and all five films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He died while filming his last movie, The Deer Hunter.

Star Wars broke the US Weekend Box Office record twice, first on the 11th weekend of its initial 1977 run and then again on the first weekend of its 1978 re-issue. Jaws 2 held the record for one month in between, so they both took the record AND lost it to the same film.

Actor Marlon Brando was paid $3.7 million and a percentage of the profits for twelve shooting days playing Jor-El, Superman’s father, in the superhero flick Superman. For ten minutes of screen time, Brando earned $14 million. Christopher Reeves, who played Superman, reportedly earned $250,000. Christopher Reeves also got third billing behind Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.

The Pizza Planet truck from the Toy Story series is a 1978 Toyota Gyoza Mark VII Lite Hauler.

Over 98% of Cadillacs sold in 1978 were equipped with a vinyl roof.

On Prince’s debut album, For You, released in 1978, he wrote, arranged, composed, produced, and performed the album all by himself at twenty years old.

September by Earth, Wind & Fire was not released initially on a standard album but was first featured as a bonus track on their 1978 compilation: The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.

At the 1978 Asian Games, North and South Korea’s national football (soccer) teams made it to the grand finals, only to end the match 0–0 in overtime, forcing the two teams to share Gold.

On June 8, 1978, Larry Bird signed a five-year, $3.25 million contract with the Boston Celtics, making him the highest-paid rookie in sports history.

During a 1978 Monday Night Football game, Howard Cosell commented on a delicious new snack he was eating; thus, stadium nachos went mainstream.

The “1st & Ten” graphics system for drawing lines on TVs to create an on-field marker to help TV viewers identify the NFL’s first down distances was conceived and patented in 1978 by David W. Crain. It also won two Emmys.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1978: $162,000

The Habits

Playing Simon, Toga Parties, watching Grease, and singing along.

1st Appearances & 1978’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Hungry Hungry Hippos, Simon

Best Film Oscar Winner

Annie Hall (presented in 1978)

Broadway Shows

Deathtrap (Play) Opened on February 26, 1978, and closed on June 13, 1982
 Dancin’ (Dance Musical) Opened on March 27, 1978, and closed on June 27, 1982
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Review) Opened on May 9, 1978, and closed on February 21, 1982
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Musical) Opened on June 19, 1978, and closed on March 27, 1982

East End Show

Evita (Musical) Opened on June 21, 1978, and closed on February 18, 1986

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1978

A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon
Chesapeake by James A. Michener
Evergreen by Belva Plain
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
Fools Die by Mario Puzo
The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum
I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr
Sea, Sea, Sea by Iris Murdoch
Scruples by Judith Krantz
Second Generation by Howard Fast
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Stand by Stephen King
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
The World According to Garp by John Irving

1978 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Laverne & Shirley (ABC)
2. Happy Days (ABC)
3. Mork & Mindy (ABC)
4. Three’s Company (ABC)
5. Angie (ABC)
6. 60 Minutes (CBS)
7. M*A*S*H (CBS)
8. The Ropers (ABC)
9. All In The Family (CBS)
10. Taxi (ABC)

1979 Billboard Number One Songs

December 24, 1977 – January 13, 1978:
How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees

January 14February 3:
Baby Come Back – Player

February 4March 3:
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees

March 4March 17:
(Love Is) Thicker Than Water – Andy Gibb

March 18May 12:
Night Fever – Bee Gees

May 13May 19:
If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman

May 20June 2:
With A Little Luck – Wings

June 3June 9:
Too Much, Too Little, Too Late – Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams

June 10June 16:
You’re The One That I Want – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

June 17August 4:
Shadow Dancing – Andy Gibb

August 5August 11:
Miss You – The Rolling Stones

August 12 – August 25:
Three Times A Lady – Commodores

August 26September 8:
Grease – Frankie Valli

September 9October 27:
Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste of Honey

October 28 – November 3:
Hot Child In The City – Nick Gilder

November 4November 10:
You Needed Me – Anne Murray

November 11December 1:
MacArthur Park – Donna Summer

December 2December 8:
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond

December 9January 5, 1979:
Le Freak – Chic


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
Superbowl XII Champions: Dallas Cowboys
NBA Champions: Washington Bullets
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadians
U.S. Open Golf Andy North
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Jimmy Connors/Christine Marie Evert
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Bjorn Borg/Martina Navratilova
NCAA Football Champions: Alabama & USC
NCAA Basketball Champions: Kentucky
Kentucky Derby: Affirmed (Triple Crown Winner: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes)
World Cup (Soccer): Argentina

More 1978 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
30 Big Things That Happened in 977
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1978X
1978 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
1970s, Infoplease.com World History
Jonestown Massacre/ Murder-Suicide
1978 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1970s Slang
Unabomber (FBI.org)
Wikipedia 1978