22 July 1977

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping is restored to power.

On this day in 22 July 1977, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was restored to power after 10 years in exile.

“I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat,” Deng Xiaoping once uttered, “it’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.” It was this sort of pragmatism that helped Deng to lead the transformation of China into the economic powerhouse it is today. Over the years he was a leader of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Liberation Army of China, and the People’s Republic of China. He was a military strategist, a revolutionary, and a statesman, and he was the great architect of the country’s modernisation, its opening up to the international community, and the transformation of traditional socialism into the socialist market economy.

Deng was effectively in charge of China in the years after his restoration to power, from 1978 to 1992, but only after a slow and arduous rise to the top. He was born into a family of Hakka Han ethnicity in Guang’an County, Sichuan Province, on 22 August 1904. His father Deng Wenming was a landowner, and his mother Deng Dan died when he was still a child.

In 1920, when he was just 16 years old, Deng Xiaoping travelled to France as part of the Mouvement Traivail-Etudes work-study abroad initiative. The night prior to his departure, his father asked him what he hoped to achieve and—rather prophetically—he responded, “To learn knowledge and truth from the West in order to save China.”

After crossing the oceans to Marseilles by boat, he studied at schools in Bayeux and Chatillon, and worked a number of jobs including as a fireman on a locomotive and a fitter in a Renault factory. The work was dangerous and poorly paid and it was there—he later explained—that Deng started to understand the disadvantages of capitalism, and to study Marxism.

In 1926 he travelled to the Soviet Union to study at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University, and it was there that he met his first wife. They returned to China and married but, tragically, she died only days after giving birth to their baby girl, who also died. Then in 1933 Deng’s second wife, Jin Weiying, abandoned him after he came under political attack for fighting for the Communist Party. However, after their subsequent victory, and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, his political career took off; so much so that Mao Zedong eventually started to perceive him as a threat.

After the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Deng was exiled to a lowly existence as an ordinary worker in the Xinjian County Tractor Factory in rural Jiangxi Province, and his family were attacked by the Red Guards; his son Deng Pufang was tortured and thrown out of fourth-floor window, which left him paraplegic.

After Mao’s death on 9 September 1976 everything changed once more, and suddenly Deng was again the de facto leader. On 22 July 1977 he was officially restored to power—appointed Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army—and so he was able to start the modernisation process that he so desired.

21 April 1977

The musical, Annie opens on Broadway.

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre. It spawned numerous productions in many countries, as well as national tours, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical’s songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” are among its most popular musical numbers.

The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977 and starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. Danielle Brisebois was one of the orphans. It was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven, including the Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Replacements in the title role on Broadway included then-child actors Shelley Bruce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith and Alyson Kirk. Replacements in the role of Miss Hannigan included Alice Ghostley, Dolores Wilson, Betty Hutton, Marcia Lewis, and June Havoc. Ann Ungar understudied and played for Dorothy Loudon in the role of Miss Hannigan. She also understudied Alice Ghostley and Dolores Wilson. The show closed on January 2, 1983, after a total of 2,377 performances, setting a record for the longest running show at the Alvin Theatre, until it was surpassed by Hairspray in 2009.

10 March 1977

Astronomers discover the rings of the planet Uranus.

For being the third largest body in our solar system not including the Sun, there really wasn’t much info about Uranus until the invention of powerful modern telescopes. While astronomers have known of it’s existence since the 16th century, it wasn’t until 1781 that Englishman William Hershel confirmed it as the seventh planet from the sun.

Named after Zeus’s grandfather Uranus, best remembered for being castrated by his son Saturn, the hilariously named planet was only a blue blip until 1977. Astronomers using the Kuiper Airborne Observatory discovered a series of rings the circled Uranus around it’s uniquely tilted axis. This marked the second such celestial feature alongside fellow gas giant Saturn.

Years later the solar system observer Voyager arrived near Uranus and confirmed that Uranus not only had a complicated system of rings, but also 27 moons of various sizes. With a new discovery at every turn the question remains, what new wonders does Uranus have in store for us next?

24 July 1977

The end of a four day Libyan Egyptian War.


The Libyan–Egyptian War was a short border war between Libya and Egypt in July 1977. On July 21, 1977, there were first gun battles between troops on the border, followed by land and air strikes. On July 24, the combatants agreed to a ceasefire under the mediation of the President of Algeria Houari Boumediène and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

In June 1977, thousands of Libyan protesters began a “March on Cairo” as they headed towards the Egyptian border. The Libyans wanted to demonstrate against the increasing likelihood that Egypt would enter into a peace treaty with Israel. On July 20, after the protest march was stopped by Egyptian border guards, Libyan artillery units fired at Egypt in Sallum.

On July 21, 1977 Libyan forces carried out a raid on Sallum. The raid was carried out by the 9th Tank Battalion and supported by a few Mirage 5 aircraft.

Anwar Sadat and his generals ordered 3 divisions to head to the Libyan border when news of the advancing Libyan tanks reached them. The three divisions quickly beat back the Libyan brigades, destroying most of their equipment. The Egyptian Air Force and 3 divisions of the Egyptian Army stormed across the Libyan border and captured some key border towns. Libyan military bases in Al Adm, Kufra and Umm Alayan were bombed.

Other Arab states then asked Sadat not to launch a full-scale invasion of Libya. Sadat heeded their call and forced Libya into a ceasefire. The Egyptian Army then withdrew from occupied territory.

31 May 1977

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is finished.

With the laying of the first section of pipe on March 27, 1975, construction began on what at the time was the largest private construction project in American history.A deciding vote in the U.S. Senate by Vice President Spiro Agnew had passed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act on July 17, 1973.

Years of debate about the project’s environmental impact escalated. Concerns were raised about earthquakes and elk migrations.The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal, ended up costing billions. The last pipeline weld was completed on May 31, 1977.

On June 20, 1977, oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field began flowing to the port of Valdez at four miles an hour through the 48-inch-wide pipe. It arrived at the port 38 days later.The completed pipeline system, at a cost of $8 billion, including terminal and pump stations, will transport about 20 percent of U.S. petroleum production.

Tax revenues alone earned Alaskans about $50 billion by 2002.Special engineering was required to protect the environment in difficult construction conditions, according to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

Details about the pipeline’s history include:Oil was first discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope in 1968.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was established in 1970 to design, construct, operate and maintain the pipeline.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System cross the ranges of the Central Arctic heard on the North Slope and the Nelchina Herd in the Copper River Basin.

The Valdez Terminal covers 1,000 acres and has facilities for crude oil metering, storage, transfer and loading.
The pipeline project involved some 70,000 workers from 1969 through 1977.The first pipe of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was laid on March 27, 1975. Last weld was completed May 31, 1977.The pipeline is often referred to as “TAPS” – an acronym for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.First oil moved through the pipeline on June 20, 1977.

25 May 1977

Star Wars is first released in theaters.

On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away.” By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.

10 March 1977

Astronomers discover the rings of Uranus.

The rings of Uranus were first discovered in 1977 by the astronomical team of James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. When he first discovered Uranus more than 200 years ago, William Herschel also reported seeing rings, but that’s probably impossible, because the rings of Uranus are very dark and thin.

Astronomers now know that Uranus has 13 distinct rings. They start at about a distance of 38,000 km from the center of Uranus, and then extend out to about 98,000 km.Unlike the rings of Saturn, which are very bright and composed of water ice, the rings of Uranus are relatively dark. Instead of containing dust, the rings seem to be made up of larger chunks, measuring 0.2 to 20 m across. These would really qualify as boulders, not dust. They’re also very thin. Each ring is only a few km thick.

Uranus now has a total of 10 known rings.The rings of Uranus are thought to be very young, not more than 600 million years old. They probably came from a few shepherd moons that were shattered by Uranus’ gravity and turned into rings around the planet. The chunks collided with each other and turned into smaller and smaller particles.

19 January 1977

Tokyo Rose is pardoned by President Gerald Ford.

On this day in 1977, President Gerald Ford pardoned “Tokyo Rose,” who had broadcast pop tunes during World War II. Although the nickname was a catchall for propaganda broadcasts, it became synonymous with Iva Toguri, an American-born citizen of Japanese descent.

Toguri graduated from UCLA in 1940. When an elderly aunt fell ill, she went to Japan to help care for her, leaving Los Angeles with only an identification card. When war threatened, Toguri sought a passport from the U.S. vice counsel in Japan, but the State Department had not acted on her request by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.
After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Toguri asserted that she was forced into her role by the authorities. She said she broadcast only light musical fare even as she smuggled food and medicine to the Allied prisoners of war. Nevertheless, Toguri was branded as a traitor for having aired such songs as “My Resistance Is Low.”

Toguri was detained for a year by the U.S. military occupiers before being released for lack of evidence. In 1948, however, she was charged by federal prosecutors with having committed treason for “adhering to, and giving aid and comfort to, the Imperial Government of Japan.” After a long trial, a San Francisco jury found her guilty of “speak into a microphone concerning the loss of ships.” She was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and fined $10,000.
She was released early in 1956 for good behavior.