My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
- Gerald Ford, upon taking the oath of office as President of the United States.
In the year AD 1974...
- The Watergate scandal comes to a feverish climax as convictions are secured for the burglars, indictments proceed against the "Watergate Seven," and finally US President Richard Nixon himself is threatened with impeachment and forced to resign.
- The Oil Crisis finally comes to an end as the OPEC nations other than Libya agree to call off a five-month oil embargo against United States, Europe, and Japan.
- The Carnation Revolution restores democracy to Portugal after nearly 50 years of fascist dictatorship.
- Turkish forces invade Cyprus when the Greek Cypriots attempt to effect a reunification with Greece, leading to a civil war and an effective partitioning of the island.
- In a story that captivates the nation, the "Symbionese Liberation Army," a group of radical terroristic revolutionaries, kidnaps newspaper heiress Patty Hurst and eventually convinces her join them in a year-long crime spree, in what is often cited as a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome.
- India becomes the sixth nation to successfully test a nuclear bomb.
- Japanese Imperial Army officer Hiroo Onoda surrenders to Philippine authorities after continuing to fight World War II for 30 years in the jungles of tiny Lubang Island.
- Serial killer Ted Bundy begins his year and a half-long killing spree.
- The Irish Republican Army intensifies its attacks within England, conducting several bombings including an attack on the British Houses of Parliament that damages Westminster Hall.
- Written by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the first-ever role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, is published by unknown Wisconsin wargaming company Tactical Rules Studies.
- Three Chinese farmers digging a well discover the massive terracotta army buried as part of the tomb of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shihuangdi.
- The first skeleton of Australopithecus afarensis, an early hominid which lived about 3.5 million years ago, is discovered in Ethiopia. Nicknamed "Lucy" after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" the skeleton is later determined to have been the direct ancestor of every living human being.
- In the worst disaster in aviation history, in terms of lives lost, Turkish Airlines Flight 981, a DC-10, crashes into a forest near Ermenonville, France, killing 346 people.
- In the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded, 148 tornados strike across 13 US states and one Canadian province over the course of a single day, killing 315 and injuring more than 5000.
- Baseball slugger Hank Aaron hits home run number 715 off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, breaking Babe Ruth's all-time career home runs record.
- In the "Rumble in the Jungle" at Kinshasa, Zaire, Muhammad Ali regains his boxing World Heavyweight title by knocking out the younger, quicker George Foreman in the eighth round, thanks to a daring strategic gambit Ali dubs "rope-a-dope."
- American physician Henry Heimlich first describes the Heimlich Maneuver used to clear an obstructed airway in cases of choking.
- UPC barcodes are used to ring up supermarket purchases for the first time. The first item to be placed under a UPC scanner in a retail store is a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum as part of a pilot program at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
- Iconic American television show "Happy Days" begins airing on ABC.
- "Advance Australia Fair" becomes the official national anthem of Australia, replacing "God Save the Queen."
- British prime minister Harold Wilson tells the House of Commons that henceforth the United Kingdom will now use the short scale of counting (i.e. one "billion" equals 1012) in official government statistics, in line with American usage and in contrast to the rest of Europe.
- Swedish pop group ABBA begins their meteoric rise to fame by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, England.
- People Magazine is published for the first time.
These people were born in 1974...
These people died in 1974...
- Sitting French President Georges Pompidou, suddenly, of Kahler's disease, shocking the French nation.
- American jazz legend Duke Ellington.
- English physicist James Chadwick, discoverer of the neutron.
- American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh.
- Chinese Communist military commander Peng Dehuai.
- American television personality Ed Sullivan.
- American comedian Jack Benny.
- Earl Warren, former Governor of California and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
- Czech-born German businessman Oskar Schindler.
- Burmese diplomat and former UN Secretary-General U Thant.
- Argentinian president Juan Peron.
- Former president of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
- American actor Bud Abbott, straight man in the legendary comedic duo Abbott and Costello.
- American journalist and commentator Walter Lippmann.
- Swedish writer Pär Lagerkvist.
- American baseball player Dizzy Dean
- Polish-born American studio executive Samuel Goldwyn.
- American country singer and actor Tex Ritter.
- Alberta Williams King, mother of American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., shot during a church service by a deranged black youth.
- American television news anchor Christine Chubbock, by shooting herself in the head during a newscast, becoming the first person to commit suicide on live television.
Several memorable films appeared in 1974, including:
1973 - 1974 - 1975