1980 History, Fun Facts and Trivia

1980 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1980:

  • The Miracle On Ice: At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, the US men’s hockey team amazed the world (and themselves) by beating the Soviet Union.
  • The Top Song was Lady by Kenny Rogers
  • The Movies to Watch include Airplane!, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Flash Gordon, The Elephant Man, The Blues Brothers, The Shining and The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably John Lennon
  • Notable books include Cosmos by Carl Sagan and The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
  • Price of a loaf of bread in 1980: 50 cents
    Price of a gallon of gas in 1980: $1.22
    Etch-A-Sketch: $4.97
    Rubick’s Cube: $9.99
  • The Comeback Funny Guy was: Redd Foxx
    The Funny Late Night Host: Johnny Carson
    The Funny Duo was: Cheech and Chong
  • The Conversation: Who Shot J.R on CBS-TV’s Dallas?

Top Ten Baby Names of 1980:

Jennifer, Amanda, Jessica, Melissa, Sarah, Heather, Nicole, Amy, Elizabeth, Michelle
Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, Matthew, Joshua, John, Robert, Joseph

The Hotties, Sex Symbols, and Fashion Icons:

Loni Anderson, Susan Anton, Barbara Bach, Catherine Bach, Kim Basinger, Valerie Bertinelli, Jacqueline Bisset, Christie Brinkley, Lynda Carter, Charo, Lydia Cornell, Sybil Danning, Bo Derek, Morgan Fairchild, Farrah Fawcett, Jane Fonda, Erin Gray, Shelly Hack, Debbie Harry, Goldie Hawn, Marilu Henner, Lauren Hutton, Cheryl Ladd, Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Bernadette Peters, Victoria Principal, Tanya Roberts, Diana Ross, Jane Seymour, Brooke Shields, Jacquelyn Smith, Suzanne Somers, Donna Summer, Cheryl Tiegs, Charlene Tilton, Mary Woronov

Hollywood Hunks and Leading Men:

Richard Gere, Christopher Reeve, Burt Reynolds, John Travolta

“The Quotes”

“Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon? “
-Grey Poupon

“Who Shot JR?”
– Fans of CBS’s Dallas television series

“Here’s Johnny!”
– Jack Nicholson, in The Shining

“You dipstick”
– Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard

Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious?!”
Rumack: “I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”
– Robert Hays and Leslie Nielsen, in Airplane!

“No, I am your father” (NOT Luke, I am your father)
-Darth Vader, to a surprised Luke Skywalker

“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”
– Sportscaster Al Michaels, after The Miracle On Ice

“Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a miracle…It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
– Bill Murray, in ‘Caddyshack’

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year:

Ronald Reagan

Miss America:

Cheryl Prewitt (Ackerman, MS)

Miss USA:

Shawn Weatherly (South Carolina) /Jineane Ford (Arizona)

1980 Deaths:

On May 18, Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington, killing 57 people.

Mark David Chapman shot and killed former Beatles member John Lennon outside Lennon’s residence at the Dakota, in NYC.

Ian Curtis, singer-songwriter of acclaimed English post-punk band Joy Division, hanged himself in his kitchen. His bandmates later formed the band New Order.

AC/DC frontman Bon Scott died after a night of heavy drinking in London.

Dorothy Stratten, the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year, was murdered by estranged husband Paul Leslie Snider, who then committed suicide.

The Pennsylvania Lottery was rigged by six men, including the live TV drawing host, Nick Perry.

The Killer Clown (John Wayne Gacy Jr.) was sentenced to death for the murder of 33 boys and young men between 1972 and 1978.

Philadelphia Crime Boss Angelo Bruno was shot and killed while in his car in front of his home at the intersection of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia.

The Washington Post published Janet Cooke’s story of Jimmy, an 8-year-old heroin addict, later proven to be fabricated. She won a Pulitzer Prize for the story.

World News

The Iran-Iraq war began in September when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade Western Iran. Over 1,000,000 people were killed by the time a cease-fire was agreed in 1988.

Robert Mugabe was elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

On January 6, The Global Positioning System time epoch began at 00:00 UTC. It is one of the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth.

On May 8, the global eradication of smallpox was certified by the World Health Organization.

Miracle On Ice: The United States Olympic ice hockey team amazed the world at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics on February 22nd, when they beat the Soviet national team. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the top sports moment of the 20th century.

President Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4771, which required 18- to 25-year-old American males to register for a peacetime military draft.

A severe summer heatwave in the Southern US Caused over 1,100 deaths.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) superfund law was passed by the US Congress.

30% of United States car sales were imported.

Tim Berners-Lee began his work on ENQUIRE, the system that would eventually lead to his creation of the World Wide Web in 1990.

Abscam: FBI personnel target members of the Congress of the United States in a sting operation. 7 members of the US House of Representatives and 4 Philadelphia area politicians were convicted of bribery.

Pop Culture Facts & History

A computer modem was invented.

The album Back in Black, one of the Top 10 best-selling albums of all time, was released by the Australian band AC/DC.

Video Games became popular with Pac-Man, Battlezone, Missile Command, Space Panic, Zork I, and Olympic Decathlon. Electronic Games hosted the first Arcade Awards and video game awards ceremony, with Space Invaders winning the Game of the Year Award.

Erno Rubik patented his “Magic Cube” in Hungary in 1975. Debuting at The British Toy and Hobby Fair in January, by May 1980, it became a worldwide sensation.

There has been some debate about 3M’s Post-it notes. The product was used in a test marketing campaign in 1978 as ‘Post N Peel’, and sold nationally in 1980 as ‘Post-it Notes.’ New products are in ‘test mode’ all the time. Created in 1975 by Spencer Silver and Art Fry, we say they went on sale in 1980.

Whole Foods was founded in Austin, Texas.

CNN began broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia.

Launched in 1977, The Voyager 1 probe confirmed the existence of Janus, a moon of Saturn.

The United States led a boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 82 countries boycotted the Games, and athletes from 16 of them participated under a neutral flag.

The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals, 4–1, in Game Six of the World Series to win the World Series Championship.

According to the 1980 United States Census, 226,545,805 United States residents are there.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1980: $222,000

Doomsday Clock: 

7 minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1980: Thirty-five years after the start of the nuclear age and after some promising disarmament gains, the United States and the Soviet Union still view nuclear weapons as an integral component of their national security. This stalled progress discourages the Bulletin: “[The Soviet Union and United States have] been behaving like what may best be described as ‘nucleoholics’–drunks who continue to insist that the drink being consumed is positively ‘the last one,’ but who can always find a good excuse for ‘just one more round.'”

The Habits:

Playing Rubik’s Cube, Pac-Man, Centipede (arcade), Reading The Official Preppy Handbook
Guessing ‘Who shot J.R.?’ (it was Kristin Shepard, played by Mary Crosby)

1st Appearances & 1980’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents:

Rubik’s Cube, Magna doodle

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1980

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
The Covenant by James A. Michener
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Fifth Horseman by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
Firestarter by Stephen King
God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert
Jailbird – Kuty Vonnegut
The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie
Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz
Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon
Random Winds by Belva Plain
Smiley’s People by John le Carre
The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss

Broadway Shows:

42nd Street (Musical) Opened on August 25, 1980, and closed on January 8, 1989
 Amadeus (Play) Opened on December 17, 1980, and closed on October 16, 1983

Best Film Oscar Winner:

Kramer vs. Kramer (presented in 1980)

The Bomb (Movie):

Heaven’s Gate starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Joseph Cotten, Mickey Rourke, and Willem Dafoe

The Big Movies: (according to boxofficemojo

1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. 9 to 5
3. Stir Crazy
4. Airplane!
5. Any Which Way You Can
6. Private Benjamin
7. Coal Miner’s Daughter
8. Smokey and the Bandit II
9. The Blue Lagoon
10. The Blues Brothers

1980 Most Popular TV Shows:

1. Dallas (CBS)
2. The Dukes of Hazzard (CBS)
3. 60 Minutes (CBS)
4. M*A*S*H (CBS)
5. The Love Boat (ABC)
6. The Jeffersons (CBS)
7. Alice (CBS)
8. House Calls (CBS)
9. Three’s Company (ABC)
10. Little House on the Prairie (NBC)

1980 Billboard Number One Songs

December 22, 1979January 4, 1980:
Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

January 5January 18:
Please Don’t Go – KC and the Sunshine Band

January 19February 15:
Rock With You – Michael Jackson

February 16February 22:
Do That To Me One More Time – Captain & Tennille

February 23March 21:
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

March 22April 18:
Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) – Pink Floyd

April 19May 30:
Call Me – Blondie

May 31June 27:
Funkytown – Lipps Inc.

June 28July 18:
Coming Up (Live At Glasgow) – Paul McCartney & Wings

July 19August 1:
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me – Billy Joel

August 2August 29:
Magic – Olivia Newton-John

August 30September 5:
Sailing – Christopher Cross

September 6 – October 3:
Upside Down – Diana Ross

October 4October 24:
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen

October 25November 14:
Woman in Love – Barbra Streisand

November 15December 26:
Lady – Kenny Rogers

December 27, 1980 – January 30, 1981:
(Just Like) Starting Over – John Lennon

1980 United States Census:

Total US Population: 226,542,199
1. New York, New York – 7,071,639
2. Chicago, Illinois – 3,005,072
3. Los Angeles, California – 2,966,850
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 1,688,210
5. Houston, Texas – 1,595,138
6. Detroit, Michigan – 1,203,339
7. Dallas, Texas – 904,078
8. San Diego, California – 875,538
9. Phoenix, Arizona – 789,704
10. Baltimore, Maryland – 786,775


World Series Champions: Philadelphia Phillies
Superbowl XIV Champions: Pittsburgh Steelers
NBA Champions: Los Angeles Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: New York Islanders
U.S. Open Golf Jack Nicklaus
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) John McEnroe/Chris Evert Lloyd
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Bjorn Borg/Evonne Cawley
NCAA Football Champions: Georgia
NCAA Basketball Champions: Louiseville
Kentucky Derby: Genuine Risk

More 1980 Facts and History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1980X
1980 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Everything 80s Podcast 1980
Fact Monster
1980s, Infoplease.com World History
Mount St. Helens Eruption
1980 in Movies (according to IMDB)
1980 Top Movies (according to BoxOfficeMojo)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
80s Facts About the 80s(Mental Floss)
1980s Slang
1980s Timeline (Security and Exchange Commission)
1980 US Census Fast Facts
Wikipedia 1980