1997 History Events: What Happened in 1997

The year 1997 was full of important events as the twentieth century came to an end and a new century loomed on the horizon. This year, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in the United Kingdom, which was a significant literary event. It was Rowling’s first work, and the first book in the well-known Harry Potter series. This seven-book fantasy series became a worldwide sensation, spawning a phenomenally successful franchise of film adaptations, prequels, and even theme park attractions.

The Simpsons aired its 167th episode on television, making it the longest-running animated series in history. The Crocodile Hunter, a show hosted by Australian animal expert Steve Irwin, premiered in this year. 1997 was also the year that Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s iconic animated comedy, South Park, premiered on Comedy Central. The show immediately became a national and international hit, evolving into a fantastic vehicle for social satire and criticism on American culture.

This year, there was also a significant scientific breakthrough. Scientists in Scotland have reported the birth of the world’s first cloned mammal, a sheep named Dolly, cloned from an adult cell. While the news generated heated debate about the ethical limitations of science in general, and cloning in particular, the achievement’s significance cannot be overstated.

While there were numerous important events in 1997, two huge deaths that shocked the world will undoubtedly be remembered forever. This was the year that Diana, Princess of Wales, died tragically in an automobile accident while married to Charles, Prince of Wales (Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest child and heir apparent). Diana had caught the world’s interest with her beauty, grace, and extensive charitable activity. Another passing affected the world as well. Mother Teresa of Calcutta died in this year, after suffering from heart difficulties for many years. Mother Teresa was well-known across the world for her piety and, in particular, her charitable work in some of the world’s poorest areas. In 2016, the Roman Catholic Church declared her a saint, and she was given the title of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

Continue reading to discover more about the events of 1997.


(January 23, 1997)
Madeleine Albright, who had previously served as the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, became the first woman to hold the position of Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton on this day in 1997.


(February 19, 1997)
Deng Xiaoping, who initiated economic reforms to China in 1978, died at the age of 92.

(February 22, 1997)
On this day in 1997, a group of British scientists at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, led by Ian Wilmut, announced the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first adult mammal clone.

(March 19, 1997)
Willem de Kooning, a renowned proponent of Abstract Expressionism and Action painting, died at the age of 92. His series Woman I–VI caused a sensation with its violent images and impetuous approach.

(March 26, 1997)
The bodies of 39 members of Heaven's Gate, an American religious group that believed in unidentified flying objects, were discovered by police; they had committed suicide, believing that a spaceship was on its way to take them to a better place.


(April 13, 1997)
Tiger Woods became the first African-American golfer and the youngest player to win the Masters Tournament.

(May 11, 1997)
Deep Blue, IBM's chess-playing computer, beat Garry Kasparov in the final game of a six-game match, 3.5–2.5 (it won two games and drew three); it was the first time a current world champion had lost a match to a computer under tournament conditions.

(August 03, 1997)
Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, the tallest free-standing skyscraper in the Southern Hemisphere, opens after two and a half years of construction.

(August 29, 1997)
Netflix was started by two American entrepreneurs: Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. Originally a video-rental service, Netflix gradually expanded into video streaming and production.


(August 31, 1997)
In Paris, Princess Diana, her companion Dodi Fayed, and Henri Paul, the driver, all perish in a vehicle accident. photo source:

(September 05, 1997)
The 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa, died at age 87 in Calcutta, where she spent much of her life working with the impoverished (Kolkata). photo source:

(September 06, 1997)
Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral is held in London. Over a million people lined the streets, and 2.5 billion watched the event on television around the world.

(November 01, 1997) At the Tokyo International Film Festival, James Cameron's Titanic, a drama about the lost ocean liner, had its first public screening; the film went on to become one of the biggest grossing of all time, and it made Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet international names.

(December 15, 1997) Janet Rosenberg Jagan was elected President of Guyana, making her the first female president in South America and the country's first white president. photo source:


(December 19, 1997)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star in James Cameron's Titanic, a drama about the lost ocean liner. Titanic went on to become one of the most successful films of all time. photo source:

(December 24, 1997)
Mifune Toshiro, a Japanese actor most known for his energetic, colourful representations of samurai characters in films directed by Akira Kurosawa, died near Tokyo. photo source:

(December 29, 1997)
As a precaution against the spread of a potentially lethal influenza strain, Hong Kong has begun to slaughter the city's 1.25 million hens. photo source:

Written by James

James has always been intrigued by dinosaurs, the universe, technology, and animals. With a Bachelor of Computer Science and years of writing expertise, he joined World Amazing Facts in 2021 as a staff writer.

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