August 5, 1976: What’s Happening

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(Pictured: a cast shot from What’s Happening!!, 1976.)

August 5, 1976, is a Thursday. In Wisconsin, it’s a pleasant summer day with cooler weather on the way tonight. Governor Patrick Lucey announces that he will appoint University of Wisconsin law professor Shirley Abrahamson to the state Supreme Court as the first female justice. She will serve as Chief Justice from 1996 until 2015, and will retire after the 2019 elections at age 84. A lube, oil, and filter for most American cars at Firestone stores in Madison costs $5.88; Goodyear shops will do it for $4.88. In Washington, President Ford welcomes Olympic hero Jesse Owens and his wife to the White House and presents Owens with the Medal of Freedom. Ford also meets with members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the upcoming Republican National Convention, hoping to keep the support of the state’s delegates despite rival Ronald Reagan’s selection of Pennsylvania Republican senator Richard Schweiker as his potential running mate. Officials are still trying to figure out what mysterious disease has sickened and killed attendees at the American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Today, they’ve ruled out swine flu.

Ohio State’s athletic director decries recent reports of recruiting violations in its football program as “the worst kind of character assassination.” The merger between the National Basketball Association and the rival American Basketball Association, announced in June, becomes official today. Four ABA franchises, the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets, and San Antonio Spurs, join the NBA; players from the Kentucky Colonels and St. Louis Spirits are dispersed among the existing NBA clubs. Future major-league outfielder Bobby Kielty is born. On TV tonight, What’s Happening!! premieres on ABC, right after a Welcome Back Kotter rerun. NBC counterprograms with It’s OK, a special starring the Beach Boys with special guests Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Elvis Presley wraps up a three-night stand in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before taking a three-week break on his current tour. Jean-Luc Ponty plays Austin, Texas, and the Eagles play Portland, Oregon. The Doobie Brothers play Norfolk, Virginia, and Jethro Tull opens a two-night stand in Chicago. At WLS in Chicago, “Afternoon Delight” hit #1 on the survey dated July 31, just ahead of “Rock and Roll Music” by the Beach Boys and last week’s #1 song, “Got to Get You Into My Life” by the Beatles, which falls to #3. “Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts is new in the Top 10 at #10. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls takes a mighty leap from #23 to #12; moving from #27 to #19 is “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine, a spoken-word weeper that currently tops the nation’s country chart. There’s little movement on the WLS album chart: nine of last week’s Top 10 albums are still in the top 10, although they’ve shuffled around a bit; the Beatles’ Rock and Roll Music is still at the top. New at #10 is Spitfire by the Jefferson Starship, up from #31. The Beach Boys’ 15 Big Ones soars to #13 from #33.

A reluctant 16-year-old farmer and radio addict has been clocking a few hours on a tractor every day this week, but not on this day. He looks forward to tomorrow night’s softball game, and once the hay is made, to spending a few days in Madison next week with his cousin. A family trip to Chicago and to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee are also coming up. The family has to squeeze as much into August as possible, because summer is fleeting.


One thought on “August 5, 1976: What’s Happening

  1. That Beach Boys tv special was released a few years ago on DVD under the title The Good Vibrations Tour. It included the skit where Brian Wilson is arrested for not surfing & is forced to surf by the cops who were played by Belushi & Ackroyd.


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