(Pictured: Gerald Ford speaks after Richard Nixon announces his appointment as vice president on October 14, 1973.)
Normally, this feature examines a single day. This time, we’ll look at several days from one extraordinary month—October 1973, when Egypt and Israel brought the world to the brink of war, Richard Nixon went nose-to-nose with the Constitution only to blink first, and Cheech and Chong had a hit single.
October 8, 1973, is a Monday. Two days after Arab forces led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Israel launches an unsuccessful counterattack. The Soviet Union supplies arms to Egypt and Syria. Wayne Newton co-hosts The Mike Douglas Show; primetime TV shows tonight include The Rookies and Here’s Lucy. Scandal-plagued Vice President Spiro Agnew is on the cover of Newsweek.
October 10, 1973, is a Wednesday. Agnew makes a deal: He pleads no contest to tax evasion, agrees to repayments and a fine, and resigns the vice presidency. Nixon will appoint Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan to replace him. Tensions rise further in the Middle East after the United States pledges unlimited military aid to Israel. Israeli counterattacks recapture some of the territory lost in the war’s first hours. Future actor and TV personality Mario Lopez is born. The New York Mets win the National League pennant, defeating the Cincinnati Reds.
October 16, 1973, is a Tuesday. After a tense week in which the Soviet Union threatened to intervene in the Arab-Israeli war on behalf of Egypt and Syria, and the United States continued to send aid to Israel, Egypt asks the Soviets to get the UN to order a cease-fire. OPEC cuts oil production and announces an embargo on sales to the West, especially the United States. The embargo will remain in place for five months and have a drastic effect on the American economy. Henry Kissinger wins the Nobel Peace Prize for the Vietnam peace accords. His North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, declines the award. Bette Midler plays Madison, Wisconsin, and the movies The Way We Were and The Paper Chase open in theaters.
October 19, 1973, is a Friday. After a long refusal to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to Congressional investigators looking into the Watergate break-in, President Nixon offers to permit hard-of-hearing Senator John Stennis of Mississippi to review them. The Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, immediately refuses the offer and continues efforts to force Nixon to surrender the tapes. Bob Marley and the Wailers play San Francisco, the Rolling Stones wrap up their current tour in West Berlin, and the Steve Miller Band plays Dallas with Muddy Waters opening. The Who releases Quadrophenia. Among the shows on TV tonight: The Brady Bunch and The Odd Couple.
October 20, 1973, is a Saturday. On kids’ TV this morning: Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and The New Scooby Doo Movies. This evening, President Nixon orders Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Archibald Cox, but Richardson refuses and resigns in protest. Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, is ordered to fire Cox, but when he refuses, Nixon fires him. Solicitor General Robert Bork finally fires Cox, and Nixon announces that he has abolished the office of special prosecutor. The events are quickly termed the Saturday Night Massacre. Oakland beats the Mets 3-1 to tie the World Series at three games each. (The A’s will win it tomorrow.) The Six Million Dollar Man premieres on ABC. New Riders of the Purple Sage and Commander Cody play Duke University, and Genesis plays London.
October 23, 1973, is a Tuesday. Eight impeachment resolutions against Nixon are introduced in the House of Representatives, and he agrees to turn over the Watergate tapes to the Justice Department. The UN passes a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Arab-Israeli War. It will go into effect tomorrow, but when fighting continues to flare, the Soviets will threaten to send troops to support Egypt. In response, American forces around the world, including nuclear forces, will be placed on a higher alert. Toyota officials hold their first-ever American press conference to tout the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, just days after the OPEC oil embargo has begun. Fleetwood Mac plays Greeley, Colorado, and Lynryd Skynyrd plays Athens, Georgia.
October 27, 1973, is a Saturday. The Arab-Israeli war does not escalate further; tomorrow, the two sides will begin talking about a resolution. Central Florida is hit by an earthquake, and a meteorite strikes in Colorado. Allan “Rocky” Lane, a cowboy actor of the 30s and 40s better known as the voice of TV’s Mister Ed, dies at age 69. Mott the Hoople plays Boston with Aerosmith opening, and Miles Davis plays Stockholm, Sweden. At WCFL in Chicago, “Angie” by the Rolling Stones takes over the #1 slot, knocking out “Half Breed” by Cher. The top album is Goats Head Soup by the Stones; Los Cochinos by Cheech and Chong is #2. The single from that album, “Basketball Jones,” is in WCFL’s Top Ten. It features guest appearances by George Harrison, Billy Preston, Carole King, Tom Scott, Nicky Hopkins, Darlene Love, and Michelle Phillips.