Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Jomo Kenyatta

(First President of Kenya)

c. 1891 – 22 August 1978 (Aged 87)

Kenyatta became the first president of a post-colonial Kenya in 1964, leading its economic growth and transformation into an independent republic until his death.

Prior to becoming president, Kenyatta had been a devout activist against colonialism and a lobbied for Kenyan independence.

He was imprisoned for playing a role in the Mau Mau Uprising in 1952, despite evidence pointing to his innocence.

After his release from prison in 1959, Kenyatta was exiled for a further two years before returning and leading his party to a general election victory in 1963, which made him prime minister.

The following year he became president and served in the office until his death. He died following two strokes and a heart attack at the age of 87.

He is seen by Kenyans as “The Father of the Nation”.

John Cazale


  Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

12 August 1935 – 12 March 1978 (Aged 42)

Cazale was an American actor who only appeared in five feature films, all of which were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

This feat makes him the only actor to have had such a unique career.

The Godfather I, The Godfather II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter are the films in which Cazale starred, while he also appeared in archival footage for The Godfather III.

A renowned stage actor, Cazale established himself as one of the best character actors of the 1970’s.

In 1977, he was diagnosed with lung cancer but managed to film his scenes for The Deer Hunter, however, he died before production had finished.

Cazale was in a relationship with Meryl Streep for the final two years of his life, and died with her at his side, aged only 42.

Jim Jones

(Cult Leader)

By Nancy Wong / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

13 May 1931 – 18 November 1978 (Aged 47)

Jones was a cult leader who founded the Peoples Temple.

He infamously led 918 of his followers to commit mass suicide in what is known as the “Jonestown Massacre”.

The phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” was borne out of the actions of Jones’ followers killing themselves by drinking a punch which was mixed with cyanide. 

Among the dead were 276 children.

Jones’s body was found amongst his most trusted followers with a bullet wound to the head.

Aldo Moro

(Italian Prime Minister)

By Carlo Riccardi / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

23 September 1916 – 9 May 1978 (Aged 61)

Moro was a popular Italian politician who served as prime minister on five separate occasions between 1963 and 1976.

He was famously kidnapped by the left-wing ‘Red Brigades’, and killed after being held for 55 days.

Despite multiple requests for his release, including from Pope Paul VI, Moro was shot multiple times in the boot of a car, in which he was later found on the outskirts of Rome.

You can read more about Moro’s death here.

Keith Moon


By Klaus Hiltscher / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

23 August 1946 – 7 September 1978 (Aged 32)

Moon was a renowned English drummer for the rock band The Who, famed for his outrageous Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle.

He is recognized as one of the greatest drummers in Rock history.

The antics he came to be known for include; smashing his drum-kit on stage, blowing up toilets, and destroying television sets and his hotel rooms while on tour.

Moon’s alcoholism and lifestyle began to spiral out of control after accidentally killing his friend and driver on a night out, while his marriage also ended in divorce.

Moon died from an overdose of a drug he had been taking to treat alcohol withdrawals.

He has often been cited as being a huge influence on the generations of drummers that followed.

Harvey Milk


 San Jose Library / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

22 May 1930 – 27 November 1978 (Aged 48)

Milk was an American politician who is noted for becoming the first openly gay person to elected to office in the United States, after winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

The following year, Milk and the San Francisco Mayor, George Moscone, were assassinated by a former city supervisor, Dan White, when he was refused trying to take back his old job.

Following his death, Milk was heralded as an icon in the San Francisco gay community.

Milk was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Margaret Mead


By Rob C. Croes / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

16 December 1901 – 15 November 1978 (Aged 77)

Mead was an American anthropologist.

She is best known for her academic studies which gave an insight into modern American and Western culture, as well as the attitudes towards sex in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Mead’s work played a role in the sexual revolution seen during the 1960’s.

She died of pancreatic cancer in 1978 and was posthumously awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom the following year.