February 26, 1973: Deliverance

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(Pictured: released American POWs get a red-carpet welcome at an American base in the Phillippines on February 12, 1973.)

February 26, 1973, is a Monday. President Nixon’s reelection committee files a lawsuit against the Washington Post, New York Times, Washington Star-News, and Time magazine demanding they reveal notes and sources of their reporting on the Watergate investigation. Those subpoenaed include Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and Post publisher Katherine Graham. NBC and CBS lead their newscasts tonight with news from Vietnam, where a peace agreement was signed last month. They also cover the ongoing return of released prisoners of war to the United States. ABC leads with economic news before getting to the Vietnam stories. The White House is preparing for confirmation hearings for FBI director-designate L. Patrick Gray, which will begin on Wednesday. Gray has been acting director since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972. Gray will fail to win Senate confirmation to the permanent post, and will resign as acting director in April after he admits to destroying certain documents relating to national security at the request of Nixon aides John Dean and John Ehrlichman. At Cape Kennedy in Florida, NASA rolls out the Saturn 1B rocket that will launch the first Skylab crew into space in May.

On primetime TV tonight, NBC airs Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, which features guest stars Johnny Carson, Sandy Duncan, Arthur Godfrey, and Charlie Callas. NBC follows Laugh-In with a TV movie called The Stranger, about an astronaut who crashes on a previously unknown planet that is a twin of the earth. ABC presents an episode of The Rookies in which two of the young cops are detailed to a different precinct to help solve a murder. CBS shows tonight include Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show, and The Doris Day Show. Later tonight, Johnny Carson’s guests include David Brenner, Ross Martin, and Paul Williams.

Future football star Marshall Faulk is born. On a pro wrestling card at Madison Square Garden in New York, Verne Gagne defends his AWA world heavyweight championship by defeating Eddie Graham. The New York Times publishes a review of a new musical by Stephen Sondheim, A Little Night Music, which opened at the Shubert Theater on Broadway last night. The Grateful Dead play Lincoln, Nebraska, and Frank Zappa plays Atlanta. Black Sabbath plays Munich, Germany, and Bruce Springsteen plays the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Barry Manilow plays Massey Hall in Toronto. Neil Young plays Kansas City, Missouri, and the Rolling Stones play Sydney, Australia.

At WAMS in Wilmington, Delaware, “Love Train” by the O’Jays and “Last Song” by Edward Bear hold at #1 and #2 on the station’s new survey. Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, and “Lucky Man” by Emerson Lake and Palmer round out the Top Five. New songs in the Top 10 include “Dueling Banjos” from the Deliverance soundtrack and “Don’t Cross the River” by America. They bump “Hi Hi Hi” by Wings and “Don’t Expect Me to Be Your Friend” by Lobo. “Dueling Banjos” is the week’s biggest mover, but “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I’ve Got” by the Four Tops is hot, too. Debuts on the singles chart include “Give Me Your Love” by Barbara Mason and “Teacher I Need You,” a cut from Elton John’s album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. The latter is one of five albums the station lists on its survey, unranked. The others are More Hot Rocks by the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys’ Holland, Shootout at the Fantasy Factory by Traffic, and the self-titled album by Stealers Wheel.

In Wisconsin, a boy soon to turn 13 looks forward to his birthday. A couple of friends will come to his house and stay overnight to celebrate; they’ll watch monster movies on TV, talk about sports, and listen to the radio.

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