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1977: Death Penalty, Alaska Pipeline, Disco

By Patrick Mondout

The re-institution of the death penalty, so visible due to the execution of Gary Gilmore, along with incredible rise of popularity of disco, the death of Elvis Presley, the worst air-disaster of all-time, and the completion of the Alaska Pipeline were the major stories of 1977.

Major Stories

January 9: The Oakland Raiders defeat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI.

January 17: Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore becomes the first person executed in the United States since 1967.

January 19: Gerald Ford pardons "Tokyo Rose" on the final complete day of his presidency.

January 20: Jimmy Carter is inaugurated as president of the U.S.

January 21: In his first major act as president, Jimmy Carter signs an unconditional pardon covering more Vietnam draft evaders.

January 23-30: ABC televises the Roots miniseries over eight days. Over 100 million watched the concluding episode.

January 28: Freddie Prinze, who starred as Chico on NBC's Chico and The Man with Jack Albertson, takes his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.

March 24: Moraji Desai succeeds Indira Gandhi as prime minister of India.

March 27: A Dutch KLM 747 collides on takeoff with a Pan Am 747 at the Tenerife airport in the Canary Islands leaving 581 dead in what remains the worst aviation accident in history.

May 28: The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky was engulfed in fire, killing 165 inside.

June 15: The first free elections since 1936 are held in Spain.

June 20: The Alaska Pipeline opens.

July 13: An electricity blackout in New York lasts 25 hours creating chaos, looting and disorder.

August 4: The Department of Energy is created by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Carter.

August 10: New York postal employee David Berkowitz is arrested and later charges with the "Son of Sam" serial killings.

August 16: Elvis Presley dies at age 42 of a heart attack at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. 

October 4: Watergate Judge John J. Sirica reduces the prison sentences of Nixon henchmen H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and John Mitchell.

November 19-21: Egypt's Anwar Sadat upset many in the Arab world by becoming the first Arab leader to visit Israel.

December 5: Five Arab nations end diplomatic relations with Egypt over Sadat's Israel visit.


Office of Management and Budget Director Bert Lance, seen here with his wife and President Carter, resigned after irregularities in his personal and professional finances surfaced.

Courtesy of NARA/Carter Library

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