The Headlines and Key Facts of 1968
On the National Scene
The U.S. Spy ship Pueblo is seized by North
The North Vietnamese Tet Offensive shatters American conviction that there is a light at
the end of the war's tunnel. There are some 550,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, and by the end of the year over 22,000
Americans have died.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, triggering racial riots in 168
cities and towns. Two months later Robert F. Kennedy is fatally shot in Los Angeles having winning the California
Democratic presidential primary.
James Earl Ray arrested for assassination of Martin Luther King.
President Johnson decides not to seek re-election in the face of a deepening national
turmoil over the Vietnam War and the antiwar candidacy of Senator Eugene McCarthy. Vice President Hubert Humphrey
wins the democratic nomination at a convention in Chicago torn by violence in the streets. Richard Nixon wins the
second-closest election of the century over Humphrey by only 500,000 votes out of 73 million cast. George
Wallace carries six southern states.
The Apollo Eight completes a flight around the moon at year's
The Mexico City Olympics are marked with protests by American black
Baseball is dominated by 31-game winner Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Bob Gibson of
the St. Louis Cardinals as Detroit edge the Cardinals in the World Series
Green Bay beats Oakland in the second Super Bowl.
Billie Jean King wins 3rd Wimbledon.
The cost to mail a 1-ounce, first class letter goes up to 6 cents.
First Philadelphia Bank installs the first automated teller machine in the
An enormous supply of oil is discovered in
The price of a Hershey bar doubles... to 10 cents.
Pope Paul VI condemns all artificial birth control methods.
U.S. cigarette sales decline slightly; manufacturers respond by adding more tar and
nicotine to their products.
The first of numerous U.S. commerical jet airplanes is hijacked and forced to fly to
The first emergency 911 telephone system is installed in
National Turn in Your Draft Card Day features burning of
draft cards and war protest rallies at many U. S. campuses.
After struggling to compete with rock music since its inception, the pop music industry
gains a footing by churning out young artists in an image conscious fashion attempting to lure younger teens, a
style that came to be known as "bubblegum" which quickly began infiltrating the AM airwaves.
Cutting edge rock music responds by appearing on the newly created FM radio outlets,
considered an "underground" means of dispersal favoring longer singles, more controversial material and less
Soul music has its biggest year ever with all 20 R&B #1 hits that year falling into
the "soul" category as the music takes on a greater overall prominence in society following the assassination of
Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Motown responds to the growing influence of deeper soul and the psychedelic soul of Sly
and The Family Stone by pushing its own artists towards a less pop-friendly style, resulting in major hits by
Marvin Gaye and The Temptations.
Turbulence within the Beatles doesn't hurt their appeal as they score their biggest single ever, "Hey
Jude", and use their creative differences to their advantage by releasing a double LP comprised of each members
individual contributions that comes to be known as "The White Album".
After defining the harder blues based rock "super-group", Cream gives its final performance in November at
the Royal Albert Hall in England and breaks up shortly thereafter.
The term "heavy metal" first appears in the Steppenwolf song "Born To Be Wild".
Movies and Television
60 Minutes debuts on CBS television.
After spending most of the decade wallowing in lackluster film projects Elvis Presley
returns to prominence in a highly rated television show later dubbed "The '68 Comeback Special" in which, dressed
head to toe in leather, he performs his old hits in explosive fashion. The sit-down segment of the show is later
used as the prototype for MTV's "Unplugged" series.
The motion picture event of the year is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space
Odyssey. Biggest hit of the year is Funny Girl for which its star, Barbra
Streisand will share the Best Actress Oscar with Katharine Hepburn (Lion In The Winter).
Other top hits include The Odd Couple, Bullitt, and
Romeo And Juliet.
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in is the new season's most popular series, followed
by Gomer Pyle,
U.SMC., Bonanza, Mayberry, R.F.D.,
and Family Affair. The Carol Burnett Show
emerges as a classic variety and comedy series.
Click Here for Billboard's Top Ten
hits for the day in 1968.