We’ll give you that every year represents an anniversary of something, but one of the standout aspects of 2019 is that it’s an opportunity to celebrate the fact that 1969 was 50 years ago. Now that was a year. It marked the end of a truly incredible decade that was all about change in America; where the Youth Culture founds its voice, the status quo was shaken up, the draft lottery was re-introduced for the first time since World War II and humanity would literally reach for and land on the moon. Virtually nothing would be the same again.
On the pop culture side of things, some highlights of 1969 include Led Zeppelin recording its first album (self-titled) and The Beatles recording their last (Abbey Road) — talk about passing the mantle! — while Elvis Presley recorded his landmark From Elvis in Memphis and Back in Memphis albums; George Lazenby took a one-shot as James Bond, replacing Sean Connery in the sixth 007 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; Mario Puzo‘s The Godfather was published, ultimately destined to spawn the Best Picture Academy Award winners for 1972 and 1974; and the first X-rated film from the Hollywood studios, Midnight Cowboy, was released (becoming an Oscar winner, including Best Picture, which certainly alters the initial perception of what an X-rated film was).
Sadly, Judy Garland died of a drug overdose at the age of 47 in 1969, The Wizard of Oz among her other accomplishments immortalizing her; actress Sharon Tate (who was eight months pregnant with director Roman Polanski‘s baby) and her friends were brutally murdered by members of the Manson Family; from August 15-18, the Woodstock Festival was held on a dairy farm near White Lake, New York, bringing together a wide range of musicians and over 400,000 fans, proving itself to be an event like no other and one that certainly seemed like the perfect capper for the 1960s.
On television, we got the premiere of shows like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Britain’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Brady Bunch. Plus, the Frosty the Snowman animated special made its premiere. On the big screen, there were films like The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, True Grit and Hello Dolly!
Among celebrities born in 1969 are singers Marilyn Manson, Bobby Brown, Mariah Carey, Brian Jones, founder of The Rollings Stones; and Jennifer Lopez; actors Jason Bateman, Verne Troyer (Mini-Me!), Dave Bautista, Jesse L. Martin, Patton Oswalt, Jennifer Aniston, Paget Brewster, Paul Rudd, Kim Fields, David Boreanaz (the vampire series Angel), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Ken Jeong, Edward Norton, Matthew Perry, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Wendy Wilson. Beyond Judy Garland, celebrity deaths included Boris Karloff, Gabby Hayes, Jeffrey Hunter (who played Jesus in King of Kings and Captain Pike in the first Star Trek pilot), and Bud Collyer, the first actor to “play” Superman, having voiced him in the 1941 Max Fleischer theatrical animated shorts.
For us, though, 1969 is just the beginning of what will be a series of journeys back through time, looking at significant historical events and providing a guide to the biggest pop culture achievements of that particular year, from film to television, music, Broadway and books.
For our first round-up of those subjects, just scroll down!