Back to '80s Timeline Home
Academy Awards
Terms of Endearment...Shirley MacLaine...Robert DuVall...
Cheers...Hill Street Blues...Concealed Enemies...
Torch Song Trilogy...Cats...
"Beat It"...Thriller..."Every Breath You Take"...
Culture Club...
Nobel Prizes
Lech Walesa...
Pulitzer Prizes
The Color Purple...'Night, Mother...
Washington Redskins
Baltimore Orioles
Philadelphia 76er...North Carolina State...
Jimmy Connors...Martina Navratilova...John McEnroe...
World Soccer Cup: N/A
Americas Cup: Australia II (Australia)
Seve Ballesteros...Hal Sutton...Larry Nelson...
Stanley Cup: New York Islanders
Tour de France: Laurent Fignon (France) [Team: Raleigh]
Gerrie Coatzee...
Auto Racing
Indianapolis 500: Tom Sneva
The Olympics
Horse Racing
Kentucky Derby: Sunny's Halo
Memorable People Include
Michael Jackson...Karen Carpenter...Yuri Andropov...
Sally Ride...Samantha Smith...Vanessa Williams...

January 3

January 15

  • Men At Work's "Down Under" begins a 4-week reign as the number 1 song.
  • The National Commission on Social Security Reform announced its recommendations for saving the Social Security fund, which included a slow down in the rate of growth for payments, higher taxes and an eventual increase on retirement age.

January 18

  • The gold medals won by Jim Thorpe in the 1912 Olympics are returned to his family. They had been stripped from him in 1912 after it was learned he had played semi-professional basketball.

January 23

  • Clashes between Hindus and Muslims throughout the month in the state of Assam in India kill over 1,500 people.

February 5

  • Toto's "Africa" begins a 1-week reign as the number 1 song.

Febrary 7

  • The remaining portion of Cosmos 1402 re-enters the atmosphere. There is concern because this section contains a nuclear fuel cell, but it burns up safely over the Atlantic Ocean.

February 12

  • Ragtime composer and pianist Eubie Blake, whose 315 works include "I'm Just Wild About Harry," dies at the age of 100.

February 14

  • Singer Karen Carpenter dies of anorexia nervosa at the age of 32.

February 16

  • Brush fires in the states of Victoria and South Australia in Australia kill 71 people, several hundred thousand livestock, and destroy 3,000 homes over the next 3 days.

February 19

  • Patti Austin and James Ingram's "Baby, Come to Me" begins a 2-week reign as the number 1 song.

February 25

  • Playwright Tennessee Williams, after choking on a platic bottlecap, dies at the age of 71. "STELLA!"

February 28
March 2

  • The final episode of M*A*S*H airs to 125 million people, the largest television audience for a nonsporting event in TV history.

March 5

  • Robert Hawke replaces Malcolm Fraser as prime minister of Australia.

  • Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" begins a 7-week reign as the number 1 song.

March 6
March 8

  • President Reagan delivers his "Evil Empire" speech.

March 16

  • American radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey dies at the age of 79.

March 19

  • Nancy Reagan makes a guest appearance on "Diff'rent Strokes" to talk to Arnold about drugs.

March 22

  • Chaim Herzog becomes president of Israel, replacing Yitzhak Navon.

March 23

  • President Reagan delivers the "Star Wars" speech.

  • Barney Clark dies, 112 days after becoming the first person to receive an artificial heart.

March 30

  • For the first time ever, a California Condor is hatched in captivity.

April 4

  • The space shuttle Challenger takes its maiden voyage.

  • Actress Gloria Swanson dies at the age of 84.

April 6

  • Floods in the southern United States kill 15 people and leave 50,000 homeless over the next week.

April 11

  • A presidential panel recommended that 100 MX ICBMs should be installed in existing silos in Wyoming and Nebraska. The panel also recommended the development of a smaller single-warhead missile known as the Midgetman.

April 12

  • Harold Washington is elected the first black mayor of Chicago.

April 15

  • The movie "Flashdance" premieres, inspiring millions to rip their exercise wear and don leg warmers.

April 18

  • The U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is destroyed by a terrorist bomb. 63 people are killed. The perpetrators are never found.

April 22

  • The West German magazine "Stern" announces that it has discovered 60 volumes of Hitler diaries. The diaries portray Hitler as being completely unaware of the Holocaust.

April 23

  • "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners begins a 1-week reign as the number 1 song.

April 25

  • Fred Sinowatz becomes chancellor of Austria, replacing Bruno Kreisky.

  • Mário Soares becomes premier of Portugal, replacing Francisco Pinto Balsemão.

April 30
May 3

  • A pastoral letter issued by The Roman Catholic Bishops of the US condemns the nuclear arms race.

May 6

  • Tests prove that the Hitler diaries discovered by "Stern" magazine are forgeries.

May 11

  • Newly-discovered comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock makes its closest pass to Earth, 2,800,000 miles.

May 13

  • Mika Spiljak becomes president of Yugoslavia, replacing Peter Stambolic.

May 16

  • Michael Jackson "moonwalks" for the first time while performing "Billie Jean"on the "Motown 25th Anniversary" special on NBC.

May 17

  • Israel and Lebanon reach an agreement to withdraw Israeli, PLO, and Syrian troopsn from Lebanon. Syria rejects the agreement.

May 21

  • British art historian Kenneth Clark becomes historical at the age of 79.

  • David Bowie's "Let's Dance" begins a 1-week reign as the number 1 song.

May 24

  • The Congress authorized the expenditure of 625 million dollars in MX missile research.

May 26

  • Steingrimur Hermannsson becomes prime minister of Iceland, replacing Gunnar Thoroddsen.

May 28

  • Irene Cara's "Flashdance...What A Feeling" begins a 6-week reign as the number 1 song.

May 31
June 5

  • A passenger ship collides with a bridge in the Volga River near Ulyanovsk, USSR. Over 100 people are killed.

June 13

  • Pioneer 10 becomes the first human spacecraft to leave the solar system.

June 15

  • The Supreme Court limited the ability of state and local governments to limit access to abortion clinics.

June 16

  • Yuri Andropov becomes president of the USSR.

  • 17-year-old Ariela Gross gives Ronald Reagan a petition in support of a nuclear freeze. He tells her that a nuclear freeze must be bad because the Soviets want one.

June 18

  • Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space as a crewmember on the Challenger's second flight.

June 23

  • The Supreme Court ruled the use of the "Legislative Veto" -- a means by whcih congress could overrule desicions made by federal agencies -- as an unconstitutional exercising of power by the legislative branch over the executive branch.

June 24
June 25

  • The Washington Public Power Supply System becomes the largest government unit to fail in US history, having defaulted on 2.25 billion in debts. Of the five nuclear plants it set out to build, only one was completed.

June 27

  • Balloonist Maxie Anderson, who in 1978 was part of the group to first cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon, dies in a ballooning accident at the age of 48.

June 28

  • A section of the Connecticut Turnpike collapses into the Mianus River, killing 3 drivers.


  • A massive heat wave in the Midwest kills 220 people.

July 1

  • Architect/engineer/author R. Buckminster Fuller dies as the age of 87.

July 9

  • "Every Breath You Take" by The Police begins an 8-week reign as the number 1 song.

July 18

  • ABC newscaster Frank Reynolds dies of viral hepatitis at the age of 59.

July 21

  • 11-year-old Samantha Smith holds a press conference while visiting Moscow, and tells the world that she does not think Yuri Andropov intends to start a nuclear war.

  • Poland ends its 1-1/2 year period of martial law.

  • Ling-Ling, the famous giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, gives birth to the first panda born in captivity, but the newborn dies three hours later.

July 29

  • Actor David Niven dies at the age of 73.

July 30

  • Actress Lynn Fontanne dies at the age of 95.

July 31
August 2

  • U.S. Representative Pat Schroeder coins the phrase "teflon president" to describe Ronald Reagan.

August 4

  • Bettino Craxi becomes Italy's first socialist prime minister, replacing Amintore Fanfani.

August 5

  • President Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo of Upper Volta is overthrown. He is replaced by Thomas Sankara.

August 8

  • Guatemalan president Effrían Ríos Montt is overthrown in a coup. He is replaced by Oscar Humberto Mejía Victores.

August 9

  • Apparent planets are discovered orbiting the star Vega. This is the first discovery of planetlike objects orbiting another star.

August 17

  • Lyricist Ira Gershwin dies at the age of 86.

August 18

  • Hurricane Alicia kills 17 people in Texas.

August 21

  • Benigno Aquino is assassinated as he deplanes upon returning to the Philipines.

August 24

  • The Amtrak "Silver Meteor" hits and kills a woman in Georgia, then hits a truck in South Carolina, then hits a truck in North Carolina and derails.

August 27

  • The 20th anniversary of the famous civil rights march on Washington D.C. by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated with a march in Washington, DC. About 250,000 people participate.

August 30
September 1

  • A South Korean airliner with 269 people on board strays off course and into Soviet airspace. When the airliner enters a restricted area, it is shot down by a Soviet military jet. All 269 people on board are killed, including U.S. congressman Larry McDonald. The Soviets claim the United States was using the plane in a spy mission, but the action is condemned by nations around the world.

  • US Senator Henry M. Jackson dies at the age of 71.

September 3

  • "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics begins a 1-week reign as the number 1 song.

September 5

  • Token sanctions against the USSR are enacted in response to the South Korean airliner downing.

September 10

  • Michael Sembello's "Maniac" begins a 2-week reign as the number 1 song.

September 19

  • The Carribean islands St. Kitts and Nevis become the independent nation of St. Christopher and Nevis. Kennedy Simmonds becomes the first prime minister.

September 16

  • "Webster" premieres on ABC.

September 17

  • Vanessa Williams is chosen as the first black Miss America.

September 20

  • The War Powers Act of 1973 is re-affirmed by Congress, enabling the U.S. Marines in Beirut to remain stationed there another 18 months.

September 23

  • St Christopher and Nevis is admitted to the United Nations as the 158th member.

  • "The Big Chill" premieres, creating the temporary label of "Big Chill Generation" for the group that will eventually be renamed "yuppies".

September 24
October 1

  • Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" begins a 4-week reign as the number 1 song.

October 3

  • 13 people are killed in flooding in Arizona.

October 10

  • Yitzhak Shamir becomes Israel's prime minister, replacing Menahem Begin.

October 11

  • Nancy Reagan first uses the phrase "Just say no" as a solution to the drug problem.

October 23

  • NBC newscaster Jessica Savitch dies at the age of 36, along with her boyfriend, when he drove the car into a flooded canal during a storm.

  • A suicide bomber destroys the U.S. marines barracks in Beirut, killing 241 marines.

  • Minutes later, another suicide bomber destroys a French barracks 2 miles away, killing 58 paratroopers.

October 25

  • The United States invades Grenada after a coup kills that nation's leaders. The invasion is suppossedly to rescue American medical students, though after their return to the United States many of the students tell reporters that they were never in any danger.

October 28

  • The UN criticizes the US invation of Grenada.

October 29

  • "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton begins a 2-week reign as the number 1 song.

October 30
November 2

  • President Reagan signs into law a bill creating a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

November 4

  • A truck bomb destroyes an Israeli compound in Tyre, Lebanon, killing 60 Israeli soldiers and Arab prisoners.

November 6

  • Turgut Ozal becomes prime minister of Turkey.

November 10

  • Ceremonies around the world mark the 500th birthday of Martin Luther.

November 11

  • The United States begins deployment of 572 intermediate-range cruise missiles in Europe.

November 12

  • Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" begins a 4-week reign as the number 1 song.

November 15

  • The Turkish population of Cyprus declares the northern end of that island. However, with the exception of Turkey, most other nations recognize Greece as the only government of Cyprus.

November 20

  • 100,000,000 watch ABC to see Kansas City, Missouri and Lawrence, Kansas destroyed by a nuclear attack in the movie "The Day After". The Reagan administration is afraid that the movie may heighten people's tensions about Reagan's arms policies, so after the movie Secretary of State George Shultz takes some airtime to tell viewers that the events in the movie aren't going to happen.

November 23

  • Cabbage Patch kids become the most-demanded toy of the Christmas season.

December 2

  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video debuts.

December 3

  • Concrete barricades are erected in front of the White House to prevent suicide truck bombings.

  • U.S. reconnaissance planes are fired on by Syrian forces.

December 4

  • U.S. warplanes attack Syrian forces in Lebanon. 2 planes are hot down. 1 of the pilots is killed, the other is captured.

  • Jaime Lusinchi is elected president of Venezuela, replacing Luis Herrera Campíns.

December 10

  • George Bush has a secret meeting with Manuel Noriega in Panama City to discuss Noriega's alleged drug ties.

  • "Say, Say, Say" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson begins a 6-week reign as the number 1 song.

December 11

  • Hussain Mohammed Ershad becomes self-declared president of Bangladesh.

December 12

  • Truck bombs simultaneously destroy 6 targets in Kuwait, incliding the French and U.S. embassies. 60 are wounded, 6 are killed.

December 22

  • The Federal Trade Commission approves a Toyota plant for Fremont, California. This will be the first Japanese auto plant in the U.S.

December 25

  • Spanish artist Joan Miró dies at the age of 90.

December 28

  • The U.S. announces it will withdraw from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) as of December 31, 1984, due to financial mismanagement and political biases within the organization.
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