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January 1972








After first appearing as an insert in New York magazine the previous month, the first stand-alone issue of Ms., edited by Gloria Steinem, is published. The magazine, which presents a slick, sophisticated strike against the status quo with stories about abortion, lesbianism, the inequality of marriage, and the male chauvinism of the English language, sells 300,000 copies in eight days. Ms. makes its monthly debut in July, and within a year recoups its initial investment -- much to the dismay of doubting pundits like Harry Reasoner, who opines, "I'll give them six months before they run out of things to say."
All cigarette advertising is banned from TV.
Frank Rizzo is elected as Philadelphia's 93rd mayor, after almost four previous years (1967-1971) as Philadelphia's police commissioner. A 1976 scandal involving a mentally handicapped young man who was found guilty of murder after being beaten into a confession by police leads to his office and is dramatized in the 2000 made-for-TV movie The Thin Blue Lie.
Maine senator Edmund Muskie joins Senator George McGovern and New York City mayor John Lindsay in the race for the White House by announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He is soon followed by Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, Alabama governor George Wallace, New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Washington senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson.
New antihijacking regulations requiring the screening of air passengers and their baggage go into effect.

NASA begins to focus its efforts on a manned, reusable space-shuttle program, with a target launch date of 1978.

President Nixon announces his intention to run for reelection. Spiro Agnew will again be his running mate.
Melanie Safka, better known simply as Melanie, enjoys the biggest hit of her career with "Brand New Key," which remains at Number One for the third consecutive week on this date. The daughter of a one-time jazz singer, Melanie, whose folky compositions ooze with sincerity -- first gained attention with 1970's "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)." But her career takes a sharp turn downward after the success of "Brand New Key."
Billionaire recluse Howard Hughes reveals in a conference call with the press that his puported autobiography, told to Clifford Irving, is a fraud. Two months later, Irving and his wife plead guilty to defrauding their publisher, McGraw-Hill Inc., and Irving eventually returns his advance to the publisher and later serves a year and a half in jail. Irving's saga becomes the basis of the 2007 film The Hoax starring Richard Gere as the charismatic and failed author.
According to the U.S. surgeon general, the health of nonsmokers is endangered by secondhand cigarette smoke. "There are no disagreements," he says. "Cigarette smoking is deadly." No disagreement, if you discount, say, the Tobacco Institute, which fires back by denouncing the report as unfair and misleading.
Police in Albany, Georgia, serve a search warrant on a local theater for screening the sexually frank 1971 movie Carnal Knowledge, and seize the film. Two months later, the theater's manager, Mr. Jenkins, is convicted of the crime of "distributing obscene material." His conviction is upheld by the state of Georgia, but on June 24, 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Jenkins v. Georgia that the state had gone too far in classifying material as obscene in view of its prior decision in Miller v. California, and overturns the conviction.
Sanford and Son debuts on NBC-TV and becomes All in the Family producer Norman Lear's second major hit. Starring Redd Foxx as 65-year-old L.A. junk dealer Fred Sanford and Demond Wilson as his son Lamont, Sanford and Son, adopted from the British comedy Steptoe and Son, is an instantaneous hit and will rank among the Top 10 programs throughout its five season run.
The pilot movie for the TV series Emergency! debuts on NBC-TV. It is Dragnet's second spinoff show and itself a sequel series to Adam-12 and features Adam-12 stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord.

First charting on December 4, Don McLean's eight-and-a- half-minute song "American Pie" hits No. 1 today, and touches off national debate: Who's the jester? And that king and queen? One thing we know for sure: the February that makes Don shiver is February 3, 1959 -- the day a plane crash claimed the young lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, a.k.a. "the day the music died." Over those glorious eight-plus minutes, McClean allegorically retells the history of popular music, from Holly to, well, himself. During the song's four-week reign at No. countless newspaper and magazine articles dissect each verse, but as Don himself tells Life magazine, "I can't necessarily interpret 'American Pie' any better than you can."

The Top Five
1. "American Pie" - Don McLean
2. "Brand New Key" - Melanie
3. "Let's Stay Together" - Al Green
4. "Sunshine" - Jonathan Edwards
5. "Family Affair" - Sly & the Family Stone

Ross Bagdasarian, who had a string of novelty hits in the Fifties "sung" by TV cartoon characters the Chipmunks, dies at age fifty-two. Once a raisin farmer and a bit actor, Bagdasarian did the voices for Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Under the name David Seville, he recorded the Number One hit "Witch Doctor" in 1957, and the following year he sold more than 4 million records with the "Chipmunk Song." Bagdasarian also cowrote the Rosemary Clooney hit "Come On-a My House."

Led by star quarterback Roger Staubach, the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Miami Dolphins, 24-3, in Super Bowl VI. It was the first nighttime Super Bowl aired, on CBS, and garnered the highest ratings of any TV program to date. It was also the coldest ever, at a chilly 39 degrees.

Bellvue Street in Memphis is renamed Elvis Presley Boulevard.
The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse reveals that 24 million Americans have experimented with marijuana and that a third of those are regular users.
One of the least conspicuous success stories in rock is that of Rare Earth, who on this date rack up their fifth -- and last -- Top Twenty hit, "Hey Big Brother." The group, a white band whose Rare Earth label was a subsidiary of Motown, had its biggest hit in 1970 with a cover of the Temptations' 1966 hit "Get Ready."

Top of the charts: Don McLean's "American Pie" (pop single) and American Pie (pop album).

Maybelle Smith, also known as Big Maybelle, dies at age forty-seven in Cleveland. Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Smith hit her peak as a jazz singer in the late Forties and early Fifties, and accumulated several million-selling records, including "Candy," "96 Tear Drops" and "Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog."
Discovered still hiding in the jungles of Guam, Sergeant Shoichi Yokio of Japan's Imperial Army is informed of his country's World War II surrender 27 years earlier.
The New Seekers receive a gold record for "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," a song that probably will be better remembered as the music for Coca-Cola commercials.

Mahalia Jackson once remarked that she sang "because I was lonely," but who became one of America's best-loved vocalists. The sixty-year-old gospel singer, who'd been in failing health ever since a heart attack in 1964, dies in Chicago. Born in New Orleans, she earned her first recording contract in 1935 after a talent scout from Decca Records heard her sing at a funeral. "You had all those people crying in there," he said. Though Jackson was profoundly afffected by the records of Bessie Smith, she never sang the blues, only gospel music.

New York City police officers Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie are the victims of a deadly ambush by members of the Black Liberation Army. Three years later, CBS debuts Foster and Laurie, a TV movie about the incident.

Carol Feraci, one of the Ray Conniff Singers, holds aloft an antiwar sign reading STOP THE KILLING while performing at the White House for President Nixon and his guests. As the audience sat stunned, longtime Nixon supporter Conniff got the group to launch into a song, but the audience had already turned. Feraci was escorted out, and the media reacts forcefully. "Look What She Did to His Song!" cried one newspaper. Though her notoriety faded almost instantly, Feraci's brazen stunt foreshadowed Nixon's future fall.
Los Angeles Laker Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain grabs the NBA title for most career rebounds, with 21,734. Two weeks later, he becomes the first NBA player to score more than 30,000 career points.
More than 40,000 mourners file past Mahalia Jackson's open coffin in Chicago's Greater Salem Baptist Church. Funeral services are held the next day; in attendance are Coretta King, Mayor Richard Daley and Sammy Davis, Jr., who reads a telegram from President Nixon. At the end of the services, Aretha Franklin sings "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," moving many to tears.

Joan Baez claims a gold record for her album Any Day Now, which was comprised solely of songs by Bob Dylan. The LP went gold three years after its release.

Large-print health-risk warnings will now be mandatory on cigarette advertising, according to a Federal Trade Commission report.


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