August 15, 1973: Tantrums

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(Protesters march against the TV show Maude and its abortion-themed episodes, 1973.)

(This is a brand-new, never-before-seen-anywhere post.)

August 15, 1973, was a Wednesday. In June, Congress passed a bill cutting off funding for American operations in Vietnam after August 15, ending direct military involvement in the war. Today, the final American air combat missions of the war are flown over Cambodia, and the aircraft carrier Constellation leaves harbor in the Gulf of Tonkin, where American ships have operated since 1964. President Nixon gives a nationally televised address on the Watergate affair. He insists he had no prior knowledge of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters or of any coverup, and he suggests that tapes of his Oval Office conversations are covered by executive privilege. He also criticizes Congress for “a continued backward-looking obsession with Watergate.” An Associated Press survey in 12 major cities finds that the price of eggs has risen in eight of them. The largest increase was in Los Angeles, where a dozen eggs, which cost 69 cents on July 31, cost 88 cents this week. Major candymakers including Hershey and Curtiss are deciding whether to raise prices or further decrease the size of their products due to the rising price of raw cocoa beans. Hershey’s famous 10-cent chocolate bar was reduced in size by 0.12 ounces in January.

In major league baseball, a Baltimore win coupled with a Detroit loss puts the Orioles in first place in the American League East by one-half game. In the West, Kansas City expands its lead over idle Oakland to one game with a win over Cleveland. St. Louis and Los Angeles are divisional leaders in the National League. This afternoon, the Chicago Cubs lose to the Atlanta Braves 15-1. It’s their 10th straight loss. (The streak will reach 11 before the team finally gets a win on Friday.)

Nixon’s Watergate speech delays or pre-empts scheduled network programming: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Dan August, and Cannon on CBS; Adam-12, The Wednesday Mystery Movie, and SEARCH on NBC; and the sitcom Love Thy Neighbor, the TV movie Duel, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law on ABC. Last night, CBS repeated a controversial episode of the sitcom Maude, in which the title character, played by Beatrice Arthur, considers whether to get an abortion. Twenty-five of the 198 CBS affiliates did not carry the show, including stations in Milwaukee, Boston, New Orleans, and Seattle. The United States Catholic Conference has been pressuring CBS affiliates not to the air the rerun. When the episode was originally broadcast in November 1972 (when abortion was legal in New York State, where Maude is set, but before January’s Supreme Court national ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade), only two stations refused to carry it. A second abortion episode is scheduled for next week.

The Illinois State Fair continues in Springfield, where Bobby Goldsboro will perform two shows tonight at the grandstand. In Chicago, WCFL runs newspaper ads for its upcoming live broadcast of Chicago’s sold-out show at Chicago Stadium on Sunday night, which will be hosted by afternoon DJ Larry Lujack. On the latest Super CFL Survey, “Get Down” by Gilbert O’Sullivan is #1, knocking “Yesterday Once More” by the Carpenters to #2. “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Crofts makes a strong move from #12 to #5. “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings is even hotter, jumping from #18 to #7, the single biggest move on the survey. Also new in the Top 10: “Uneasy Rider” by the Charlie Daniels Band. Also making strong upward moves: “Are You Man Enough” by the Four Tops and “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk, both up eight spots. New songs within the Top 40 are “My Maria” by B. W. Stevenson and “Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon.

Perspective From the Present: I would probably have watched the Nixon speech that night, and Maude the night before—although I doubt I knew what an abortion was, and the Maude episode did not use the word. I would have been suffering along with the Cubs, who were as sick of losing as their fans. On Tuesday, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins had a bat-throwing tantrum after being pulled in the fifth inning of the ninth loss in the streak, 5-1 to Atlanta at Wrigley Field. It was the last summer I played Little League baseball, at which I was even more inept than the Cubs. As one hot day followed another, I eagerly listened to the radio, reluctantly did farm work and took saxophone lessons, and certainly looked forward to returning to school—the eighth grade—in a couple of weeks.


2 thoughts on “August 15, 1973: Tantrums

  1. Ah yes, ’73, the year nobody wanted to win the National League East. Turning a couple of those Ls into Ws would really have helped the Cubs a month or so down the line.

    Also interesting to see the rise of the Kansas City Royals as a contender in only their fifth season … unfortunately, it would take them another dozen years to finally win a World Series.

    I do not see much on that network TV schedule that would have been a loss to anybody had it been pre-empted.


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