|Centuries:||19th century – 20th century – 21st century|
|Decades:||1940s 1950s 1960s – 1970s – 1980s 1990s 2000s|
|Years:||1975 1976 1977 – 1978 – 1979 1980 1981|
|1978 by topic:|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Works and introductions categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2731|
|British Regnal year||26 Eliz. 2 – 27 Eliz. 2|
|Chinese calendar|| 丁巳年十一月廿二日
— to —戊午年十二月初二日
|- Vikram Samvat||2034–2035|
|- Shaka Samvat||1900–1901|
|- Kali Yuga||5079–5080|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||978–979|
|Japanese calendar|| Shōwa 53
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 67
|Thai solar calendar||2521|
Year 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar.
- January 1
- January 4 – A referendum in Chile supports the policies of Augusto Pinochet.
- January 5 – Bülent Ecevit, of CHP forms the new government of Turkey (42nd government)
- January 6 – The Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as Stephen of Hungary Crown) is returned to Hungary from the United States, where it was held since World War II.
- January 10 – Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, a critic of the Nicaraguan government, is assassinated. Riots erupt against Somoza's government.
- January 14– January 15 – The body of former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda, following his death from cancer.
- January 18 – The European Court of Human Rights finds the British government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland, but not guilty of torture.
- January 19 – Federal Appeals Court Judge William H. Webster is appointed FBI Director.
- January 22 – Ethiopia declares the ambassador of West Germany Persona non grata.
- January 24
- January 25– January 27 – The Great Blizzard of 1978 strikes the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, killing 70.
- January 28 – Richard Chase, the "Vampire of Sacramento", is arrested.
- February 1
- February 5– February 7 – The Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 hits the New England region and the New York metropolitan area, killing about 100 and causing over US$520 million in damage.
- February 6 – King Dragon operation in Arakan: Burmese General Ne Win targets Muslim minorities in the village of Sakkipara.
- February 8 – United States Senate proceedings are broadcast on radio for the first time.
- February 11
- Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314, a Boeing 737-200, crashes in Cranbrook, British Columbia, killing 44 of the 50 people on board.
- Sixteen Unification Church couples wed in New York, New York.
- Somalia mobilizes its troops, due to an apparent Ethiopian attack.
- The People's Republic of China lifts a ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
- February 15
- Rhodesia, one of only two remaining white-ruled African nations, announces that it will accept multiracial democracy within two years.
- Serial killer Ted Bundy is captured in Pensacola, Florida.
- February 16
- February 19 – Egyptian raid on Larnaca International Airport
- February 21 – Electrical workers in Mexico City find the remains of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in the middle of the city.
- March 1 – Charlie Chaplin's remains are stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
- March 2 – Soyuz 28 ( Aleksei Gubarev, Vladimir Remek) is launched on a rendezvous with Salyut 6, with the first cosmonaut from a third country (besides the Soviet Union and United States) – Czechoslovak citizen Vladimír Remek.
- March 3
- March 6 – American porn publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
- March 10 – Soyuz 28 lands.
- March 11 – Coastal Road Massacre: Palestinian terrorists kill 34 Israelis.
- March 14 – Operation Litani: Israeli forces invade Lebanon.
- March 15 – Somalia and Ethiopia signed a truce to end the Ethiopian-Somali War.
- March 16 – Former Italian Premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped by the Red Brigades; 5 bodyguards are killed.
- March 17 – The oil tanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground on the coast of Brittany.
- March 18
- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, is sentenced to death by hanging for ordering the assassination of a political opponent.
- California Jam II is held at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California, attracting more than 300,000 fans.
- March 22 – Karl Wallenda of the Flying Wallendas dies after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- March 26 – The control tower and some other facilities of New Tokyo International Airport, which was scheduled to open on March 31, are illegally occupied and damaged by terrorist attack by New Left activists, being forced to reschedule its opening date to May 20.
- March 28 – Stump v. Sparkman (435 U.S. 349): The Supreme Court of the United States hands down a 5–3 decision in a controversial case involving involuntary sterilization and judicial immunity.
- April 1
- New Zealand National Airways Corporation the Domestic airline of New Zealand was merged with New Zealand's international airline, Air New Zealand.
- Dick Smith of Dick Smith Foods tows a fake iceberg to Sydney Harbour.
- The Philippine College of Commerce, through a presidential decree, is converted to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
- April 3 – The 50th Academy Awards are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California with Annie Hall winning Best Picture.
- April 7 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter decides to postpone production of the neutron bomb – a weapon which kills people with radiation but leaves buildings relatively intact.
- April 8 – Regular radio broadcasts of British Parliament proceedings start.
- April 9 – Somali military officers stage an unsuccessful coup against the government of Siad Barre; security forces thwart the attempt within hours, and several conspirators are arrested.
- April 10 – Volkswagen becomes the second (after Rolls-Royce) non-American automobile manufacturer to open a plant in the United States, commencing production of the Rabbit, the North American version of the Volkswagen Golf, at the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania with a unionized ( UAW) workforce (the plant closes in 1992.)
- April 14 – 1978 Tbilisi Demonstrations: Thousands of Georgians demonstrate against an attempt by Soviet authorities to change the constitutional status of the Georgian language.
- April 18 – The U.S. Senate votes 68–32 to turn the Panama Canal over to Panamanian control on December 31, 1999.
- April 22
- Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta win the Eurovision Song Contest 1978 for Israel with their song "A-Ba-Ni-Bi".
- The One Love Peace Concert is held at National Heroes Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. Bob Marley unites 2 opposing political leaders at this concert, bringing peace to the civil war-ridden streets of the city.
- April 25 – St. Paul, Minnesota becomes the second U.S. city to repeal its gay rights ordinance after Anita Bryant's successful 1977 anti-gay campaign in Dade County, Florida.
- April 27 – Afghanistan President Daoud Khan is killed during a military coup; Nur Mohammed Taraki succeeds him.
- April 30 – The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan is proclaimed under pro-communist leader Nur Mohammed Taraki.
- May 4
- May 5 – Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 3,000th major league hit.
- May 8
- May 9 – In Rome, the corpse of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is found in a red Renault 4.
- May 12 – In Zaire, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining centre of the province of Shaba. The Zairean government asks the U.S., France and Belgium to restore order.
- May 12– May 13 – A group of mercenaries led by Bob Denard oust Ali Soilih in the Comoros; 10 local soldiers are killed. Denard forms a new government.
- May 15 – Students of the University of Tehran riot in Tabriz; the army stops the riot.
- May 17 – Charles Chaplin's coffin is found some 15 km from the cemetery from which it was stolen, near Lake Geneva.
- May 18
- May 18– May 19 – Belgian and French paratroopers fly to Zaire to aid the fight against the rebels.
- May 19– May 20 – French Foreign Legion paratroopers land in Kolwezi, Zaire, to rescue Europeans in the middle of a civil war.
- May 20 – Mavis Hutchinson, 53, becomes the first woman to run across the U.S.; her trek took 69 days.
- May 22 – Exiled leaders Ahmed Abdallah and Mohammed Ahmed return to the Comoros.
- May 25 – A bomb explodes in the security section of Northwestern University, wounding a security guard (the first Unabomber attack).
- May 26 – In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Resorts International, the first legal casino in the eastern United States, opens.
- May 28 – Indianapolis 500: Al Unser wins his third race, and the first for car owner Jim Hall.
- May 29 – Ali Soilih is found dead in the Comoros, allegedly shot when trying to escape.
- June 1 – The 1978 FIFA World Cup starts in Argentina.
- June 3 – The Congo Republic recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- June 6 – California voters approve Proposition 13, which slashes property taxes nearly 60%.
- June 9 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extends the priesthood and temple blessings to 'all worthy males', ending a general policy of excluding 'Canaanites' from priesthood ordination and temple ordinances.
- June 12 – Serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam," is sentenced to 365 years in prison.
- June 15 – King Hussein of Jordan marries 26-year-old Lisa Halaby, who takes the name Queen Noor.
- June 19
- Cricketer Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take 8 wickets in 1 inning of a Test match.
- Garfield, which eventually becomes the world's most widely syndicated comic strip, makes its debut.
- June 20 – A magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, killing 45 people, injuring hundreds and damaging some of the city's Byzantine landmarks.
- June 21
- A shootout between Provisional IRA members and the British Army leaves 1 civilian and 3 IRA men dead.
- 1978 Iranian Chinook shootdown: Iranian helicopters stray into Soviet airspace and are shot down.
- June 22
- Charon, a satellite of Pluto, is discovered.
- São Tomé and Príncipe recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- June 23 – Panamá recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- June 24
- June 25 – Argentina defeats the Netherlands 3–1 after extra time to win the 1978 FIFA World Cup.
- June 26 – A bombing by Breton nationalists causes destruction in Palace of Versailles.
- June 28
- The U.S. scientific satellite Seasat is launched.
- University of California Regents v. Bakke: The Supreme Court of the United States bars quota systems in college admissions but affirms the constitutionality of programs which give advantages to minorities.
- June 30 – Ethiopia begins a massive offensive in Eritrea.
- July 3 – Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT) signed.
- July 7 – The Solomon Islands become independent from the United Kingdom.
- July 11 – More than 200 tourists die in an explosion of a tanker-truck at a campsite in Costa Daurada, Spain.
- July 25
- Cerro Maravilla incident: Two Puerto Rican pro-independence activists are killed in a police ambush.
- Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, is born in Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK.
- August 6 – Pope Paul VI dies in Castel Gandolfo.
- August 17 – Double Eagle II becomes the first balloon to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Presque Isle, Maine, to Miserey, France.
- August 26 – Pope John Paul I succeeds Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope.
- September 5 – Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat begin the peace process at Camp David, Maryland.
- September 7
- September 8 – Iranian Army troops open fire on rioters in Teheran, killing 122, wounding 4,000.
- September 16 – General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq officially assumes the post of President of Pakistan.
- September 17 – The Camp David Accords are signed between Israel and Egypt.
- September 19 – Police in the West Midlands of England launch a massive murder hunt, when 13-year-old newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater is shot dead after disturbing a burglary.
- September 20 – General Rahimuddin Khan assumes the post of Martial Law Governor of Balochistan.
- September 25
- PSA Flight 182, a Boeing 727, collides with a small private airplane and crashes in San Diego, California; 144 are killed.
- Giuseppe Verdi's opera Otello makes its first appearance on Live from the Met, in a complete production of the opera starring Jon Vickers. This is the first complete television broadcast of the opera in the U.S. since the historic 1948 one.
- September 27 – The last Forest Brother guerilla movement fighter is discovered and killed in Estonia.
- September 28 – Pope John Paul I dies after only 33 days of papacy.
- October 1
- October 2
- The New York Yankees defeat the Boston Red Sox 5–4 at Fenway Park to clinch the AL East after being 14 games out of first place only two months earlier. The Yankees would eventually go on to defeat the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers and win the World Series.
- October 7 – Wranslide in New South Wales: the Wran government is re-elected with an increased majority.
- October 8 – Australia's Ken Warby sets the current world water speed record of 317.6 mph (511.13 km/h at Blowering Dam, Australia.
- October 10
- October 14
- October 16 – Pope John Paul II succeeds Pope John Paul I as the 264th pope, resulting in the first Year of Three Popes since 1605. He is the first Polish pope in history, and the first non- Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523).
- October 17 – The New York Yankees clinch their 22nd World Series championship, defeating the Dodgers 7–2 in Los Angeles and winning the Series 4 games to 2.
- October 20 – The first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is held as a protest march and commemoration of the Stonewall Riots.
- October 27 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin win the Nobel Peace Prize for their progress toward achieving a Middle East accord.
- November 2: 8:00 pm – The Republic of Ireland's second television channel RTÉ 2 goes on air (renamed Network 2, 1988; RTÉ Network Two, 1995; N2, 1997; and RTÉ Two in 2004).
- November 3
- November 5 – Rioters sack the British Embassy in Tehran.
- November 7
- Indira Gandhi is re-elected to the Indian parliament.
- California voters defeat the Briggs Initiative that would have prohibited gay school teachers.
- November 9 – Tanzania recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- November 18 – Jonestown incident: In Guyana, Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide that claims 918 lives in all, 909 of them at Jonestown itself, including over 270 children. Congressman Leo J. Ryan is assassinated by members of Peoples Temple shortly beforehand.
- November 19 – The first U.S. Take Back the Night march occurs in San Francisco.
- November 27 – In San Francisco, California, Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White.
- November 30 – Publication of The Times is suspended due to labor problems until November 13, 1979.
- December 4 – Dianne Feinstein succeeds the murdered George Moscone as San Francisco, California's first woman mayor (she serves until January 8, 1988).
- December 6 – The Spanish Constitution officially restores the country's democratic government.
- December 11
- December 13 – The first Susan B. Anthony dollar enters circulation.
- December 15 – Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first major American city to go into default since the Great Depression, under Mayor Dennis Kucinich.
- December 16 – Train 87 from Nanjing to Xining collides with train 368 from Xi'an to Xuzhou near Yangzhuang railway station in China, killing 106, injuring 218.
- December 19 – Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi is arrested and jailed for a week for breach of privilege and contempt of parliament.
- December 22
- The pivotal Third Plenum of the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is held in Beijing, with Deng Xiaoping reversing Mao-era policies to pursue a program for Chinese economic reform.
- Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was subsequently convicted of the murder of 33 young men, is arrested.
- Argentina started the Operation Soberanía against Chile.
- December 25 – Vietnam launches a major offensive against the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.
- December 27 – The Constitution of Spain is approved in a referendum, officially ending 40 years of military dictatorship.
- Artificial insulin is invented.
- David Rorvik claims he has participated in a creation of a human clone in his book In His Image.
- Abortion is legalized in Italy for the first time.
- In Seoul, Korea, construction begins on Seoul Subway Line 2.
- Ford initiates a recall for the Pinto because of a public outcry resulting from deaths associated with gas tank explosions
- January 5
- January 9 – Noble Johnson, American actor (b. 1881)
- January 13
- January 14
- January 18
- January 22 – Herbert Sutcliffe, English cricketer (b. 1894)
- January 23
- January 26 – Leo Genn, English actor (b. 1905)
- January 27 – Oskar Homolka, Austrian actor (b. 1898)
- January 29 – Tim McCoy, American actor (b. 1891)
- February 2 – Wendy Barrie, British actress (b. 1912)
- February 9 – Warren King, American cartoonist (b. 1916)
- February 11
- February 15 – Ilka Chase, American actress (b. 1900)
- February 18 – Maggie McNamara, American actress (b. 1928)
- February 22 – Ernest Palmer, American cinematographer (b. 1885)
- February 27 – Vadim Salmanov, Russian composer (b. 1912)
- February 28
- March 1 – Paul Scott, English writer (b. 1920
- March 11 – Claude François, French singer (b. 1939)
- March 12 – John Cazale, American actor (b. 1935)
- March 18
- March 19 – Gaston Julia, French mathematician (b. 1893)
- March 20 – Jacques Brugnon, French tennis player (b. 1895)
- March 21 – Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh (Carroll Daly), 5th President of Ireland (b. 1911)
- March 22 – Karl Wallenda, American circus performer (b. 1905)
- March 23 – Haim Ernst Wertheimer, Israeli biochemist, recipient of the Israel Prize (b. 1893)
- March 31 – Charles Best, American-born medical scientist (b. 1899)
- April 8 – Lon L. Fuller, American legal philosopher (b. 1902)
- April 9 – Michael Wilson, American screenwriter (b. 1914)
- April 14 – F. R. Leavis, British literary critic (b. 1895)
- April 16 – Lucius D. Clay, American military governor of Germany after World War II (b. 1897)
- April 19 – Joe Dougherty, first voice of Porky Pig (b. 1898)
- April 21 – Sandy Denny, English singer (b. 1947)
- April 22
- April 25 – Leo Najo, American baseball player (b. 1899)
- April 27 – John Doeg, American tennis champion (b. 1908)
- May 1 – Aram Khachaturian, Armenian composer (b. 1903)
- May 6 – Ethelda Bleibtrey, American Olympic swimmer (b. 1902)
- May 8 – Duncan Grant, Scottish painter (b. 1885)
- May 9 – Aldo Moro, former Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1916)
- May 12 – Robert Coogan, American actor (b. 1924)
- May 14 – Robert Menzies, 12th Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1894)
- May 22 – Joe Colombo, American gangster (b. 1914)
- May 26 – Tamara Karsavina, Russian ballerina (b. 1885)
- May 28 – Arthur Brough, British actor (b. 1905)
- June 1 – John W. Burton American film producer, and cinematographer (b. 1906)
- June 7 – Ronald George Wreyford Norrish, British chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897)
- June 9 – Prince Nicholas of Romania (b. 1903)
- June 18 – Walter C. Alvarez, American physician (b. 1884)
- June 20 – Mark Robson, Canadian film director (b. 1913)
- June 22 – Jens Otto Krag, Danish politician (b. 1914)
- June 24 – Robert Charroux, French writer (b. 1909)
- June 25 – Barry Brown, American actor and writer (b. 1951)
- June 27 – Josette Day, French actress (b. 1914)
- June 28 – Clifford Dupont, 1st President of Rhodesia (b. 1905)
- June 29 – Bob Crane, American actor (b. 1928)
- July 1 – Kurt Student, Luftwaffe general and commander of the German airborne forces during World War II. (b. 1890)
- July 3 – James Daly, American actor (b. 1918)
- July 8 – Osman Lins, Brazilian novelist (b. 1924)
- July 10 – Joe Davis, English snooker and billiards player (b. 1901)
- July 14 – Jack Woolgar, British actor (b. 1913)
- July 16 – Howard Estabrook, American actor (b. 1884)
- July 20 – Gerald Warner Brace, American writer, educator, sailor and boat builder (b. 1901)
- July 25 – Masao Koga, Japanese composer (b. 1904)
- July 30 – Umberto Nobile, Italian aviator (b. 1885)
- August 2
- August 4 – Frank Fontaine, American comedian and singer (b. 1920)
- August 5 – Queenie Smith, American actress (b. 1898)
- August 6
- August 7 – Eddie Calvert, British musician (b. 1922)
- August 11 – Hugh MacDiarmid, Scottish poet (b. 1892)
- August 14 – Nicolas Bentley, British writer and illustrator (b. 1907)
- August 16 – Jean Acker, American actress (b. 1893)
- August 21 – Charles Eames, American architect and designer (b. 1907)
- August 22 – Jomo Kenyatta, Kenyan statesman (b. 1894)
- August 24 – Louis Prima, Italian-American singer and actor (b. 1910)
- August 26 – Charles Boyer, French actor (b. 1899)
- August 28
- August 31 – Lee Garmes, American cinematographer (b. 1898)
- September 7 – Keith Moon, English drummer (The Who) (b. 1946)
- September 9 – Jack Warner, Canadian film studio founder (b. 1892)
- September 11
- September 12 – Frank Ferguson, American actor (b. 1899)
- September 15 – Willy Messerschmitt, German aircraft engineer (b. 1898)
- September 23 – Lyman Bostock, American baseball player (b. 1950)
- September 24 – Ruth Etting, American singer (b. 1896)
- September 25 – Bret Morrison, American voice actor (b. 1912)
- September 26 – Manne Siegbahn, Swedish physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1886)
- September 28 – Pope John Paul I (b. 1912)
- September 30 – Edgar Bergen, American actor and ventriloquist (b. 1903)
- October 6 – Johnny O'Keefe, Australian singer (b. 1935)
- October 9 – Jacques Brel, Belgian singer (b. 1929)
- October 10 – Ralph Metcalfe, American athlete (b. 1910)
- October 12 – Nancy Spungen, American groupie and girlfriend of Sid Vicious (b. 1958)
- October 16 – Dan Dailey, American actor (b. 1915)
- October 19 – Gig Young, American actor (b. 1913)
- October 20 – Gunnar Nilsson, Swedish race car driver (cancer) (b. 1948)
- October 23 – Maybelle Carter, American singer (b. 1909)
- October 28 – Geoffrey Unsworth, British cinematographer (b. 1914)
- October 30 – Wallace MacDonald, Canadian actor (b. 1891)
- November 6 – Harry Bertoia, Italian artist and designer (b. 1915)
- November 7 – Gene Tunney, American boxer (b. 1897)
- November 8 – Norman Rockwell, American artist and illustrator (b. 1894)
- November 10 – Theo Lingen, German actor (b. 1903)
- November 15 – Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (b. 1901)
- November 16 – Claude Dauphin, French actor (b. 1903)
- November 18 – Jim Jones, Peoples Temple founder (b. 1931)
- November 20
- November 23 – Jacques Bergier, French writer (b. 1912)
- November 27
- November 28 – André Morell, British actor (b. 1909)
- December 8 – Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel (b. 1898)
- December 10 – Emilio Portes Gil, 41st President of Mexico
- December 10 – Ed Wood, American filmmaker (b. 1924)
- December 11 – Vincent du Vigneaud, American chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
- December 12 – Fay Compton, English actress (b. 1894)
- December 15 – Chill Wills, American actor (b. 1902)
- December 22 – Olaf M. Hustvedt, American admiral (b. 1886)
- December 27 – Houari Boumédiènne, President of Algeria (b. 1932)
- Pankaj Mullick, Bengali composer and singer (b. 1904)
- Mark A. Shaw, American temperance movement leader and Prohibition Party candidate for vice-president in 1964