1983 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1983 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1983:

  • World-Changing Event: President Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire” in a speech in Florida.
  • The Top Song was Every Breath You Take by The Police
  • Influential Songs include: Rockit by Herbie Hancock, Puttin’ On The Ritz – Taco, She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby, She Works Hard for the Money by Donna Summer and Flashdance (What A Feeling) by Irene Cara
  • The Movies to Watch include WarGames, Yellowbeard, Zelig, Silkwood, The Outsiders, Yentl, The Big Chill, A Christmas Story, Vacation, and Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Michael Jackson
  • Notable books include Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
  • Programmer Jaron Lanier first coined the term “virtual reality.”
  • The final TV episode of M*A*S*H aired on CBS, an estimated 125 million watched in the US.
  • Price of 15 oz Arnold Stuffing mix in 1983: $1.35
    Swiss Cheese: $3.49/pound
  • The Funny Guy was Eddie Murphy
    The Funny Duo was Cheech and Chong
  • The Conversation: Mr. Rogers Neighborhood aired a 5 episode arc about nuclear war titled Conflict in November 1983. The episodes have not aired in reruns since.

Notable events that took place in 1983:

  • The first edition of the mobile phone game Snake was released on the Nokia 6110.
  • The United States invaded Grenada, a small island nation in the Caribbean.
  • The United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
  • The space shuttle Challenger was launched for the first time.
  • The first edition of the Apple Macintosh computer went on sale.
  • Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
  • The Soviet Union shot down a Korean Airlines passenger plane, killing all 269 people on board.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1983:

Jennifer, Jessica, Amanda, Ashley, Sarah, Michael, Chris, Topher, Matthew, David, Joshua

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols:

Loni Anderson, Catherine Bach, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jacqueline Bisset, Christie Brinkley, Anne Carlisle, Phoebe Cates, Joan Collins, Lydia Cornell, Linda Evans, Farrah Fawcett, Deborah Foreman, Daryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Grace Jones, Nastassja Kinski, Jessica Lange, Heather Locklear, Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Victoria Principal, Betsy Russell, Brooke Shields, Suzanne Somers, Cheryl Tiegs, Heather Thomas, Mary Woronov, Sean Young

Hollywood Hunks and Leading Men:

Tom Cruise, Burt Reynolds, John Travolta, Richard Gere, Sean Connery

“The Quotes”

“Go ahead, make my day”
– Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact

“Say hello to my little friend!”
– Tony Montana in Scarface

“Would you like to play a game?”
– NORAD W.O.P.R. in WarGames

Time Magazine’s Men of the Year:

Ronald Reagan and Yuri Andropov

Miss America:

Debra Maffett (Anaheim, CA)

Miss USA:

Julie Hayek (California)

The Good Stuff:

Jim Thorpe regained his 1912 decathlon and pentathlon Olympic Gold Medals 30 years after his death. They were originally taken from him because it was revealed that he played professional minor-league baseball for a season in 1908.

Captain Bob Pearson landed Flight 143, piloting an Air Canada Boeing 767, at the RCAF Station Gimli, a closed air force base, with several mechanical failures and NO FUEL.

The Scandals:

Germany’s Der Stern magazine obtained Adolf Hitler’s secret diaries. After announcing them and showing them to the world, it was discovered that they were fake.

Korean Air flight 007 was shot down over Soviet airspace without warning.

Pop Star Death:

Karen Carpenter (eating disorder) The word ‘anorexia’ entered the American vocabulary.

Pop Culture Facts & History:

Scarface (1983), starring Al Pacino, is a remake of the 1932 original film about Italian immigrant Antonio “Tony” Camonte, a Chicago gangster, both based on a 1929 novel of the same name by Armitage Trai, based on Al Capone.

Actor Kevin Costner was ‘the dead guy in the opening of the film The Big Chill, but we never saw his face.

In 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Garrett Brown walked through the forest shooting at less than one frame per second for the speeder chase. By walking at about 5 mph and projecting the footage at 24 frame/s, the motion seen in the film appeared as if it were moving at around 120 mph.

In their 1983 film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, the Pythons defined the meaning of life as “Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

In a 1983 court case, the New York Times conceded that their ‘Bestseller List’ is not “objective factual content” or a comprehensive list of the country’s best-selling books but admitted it was ‘editorial content.’

Austria does not usually allow dual citizenship, but they made a special exception for Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1983 when he became a US citizen.

In 1983, Russian Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov heroically prevented a full retaliatory nuclear attack against the United States and NATO allies when his Oko nuclear early warning system detected 6 missiles coming from the US and immediately declared it a false alarm.

Peter Reyn-Bardt confessed to the murder and dismemberment of his wife in 1983 after a corpse was discovered in the town peat bog. The body was then dated to 1740 AD, and Reyn-Bardt tried to retract his confession but was still convicted.

Donna Griffiths started sneezing on January 13th,1981, and didn’t stop until September 16th, 1983(997th day). It’s estimated she sneezed 1 million times in the first 365 days.

The 1983 United States Invasion of Grenada was planned using a tourist map and a copy of The Economist.

Earth’s lowest reliably measured temperature was −128.6 °F, recorded in Antarctica in 1983.

The modern computer mouse was invented.

The first video game console with the ability to install video games over the internet was the Atari 2600 in 1983.

Purina’s Chuck Wagon dog food was given a promotional video game for the Atari 2600 called “Chase the Chuck Wagon”. It could only be received by proof of purchase labels and now a very collectible Atari 2600 video game.

Video game revenues peaked at around $3.2 billion in 1983, then fell to around $100 million by 1985 (a drop of almost 97 percent). The crash abruptly ended what is retrospectively considered the second generation of console video gaming in North America.

As a consequence of the Video game crash 1983, Atari discreetly buried much of its excess stock and unsold stock of earlier games in a landfill near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Redondo Beach, CA, adopted the Goodyear Blimp as the city’s official bird in 1983.

Lake Mead, the reservoir behind Hoover Dam in Nevada/Arizona, hasn’t been at total capacity since 1983.

In 1966 Dick Shulze founded his stereo store, “The Sound of Music.” In 1983, he renamed it “Best Buy” and started the current chain of home electronics stores.

NBC’s 1983 fall shows were canceled by the end of their first season. This is the first and only time this has happened in television history.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was the best-selling album in the U.S. for two years straight, sold 32 million copies worldwide by 1983, and was certified 34x Platinum by the RIAA in 2021, making it one of only two albums ever to get more than 3x Diamond certified. The Eagles Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is number one.

Sally Ride became the first American woman in Space. At the time, reporters asked her questions like “Do you cry when things go wrong on the job?” and “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?”

J. Crew began selling through a mail-order catalog.

The oldest continuous trophy in sports is America’s Cup. It started in 1851, with Americans winning for 132 consecutive years until Australia took the Cup in 1983.

The 1983 Dodge Caravan was the first car with built-in cup holders.

In 1983, Redondo Beach, California, adopted the Goodyear Blimp as the official city bird.

Walter Johnson’s record of 3508 career strikeouts stood for nearly 50 years before 3 different pitchers (Ryan, Carlton, & Perry) each broke the record in the 1983 season.

Troy Aikman was Oklahoma’s 1983 high school typing champion.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1983: $400,000

The Habits:

Showing off your Swatch Watches, showing off your Break Dancing moves, Wacky Wallwalkers were octo-shaped sticky toys that could be tossed against a wall, then slowly ‘slime’ their way down.

1st Appearances & 1983’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents:

The must-have Christmas toys are Nintendo Entertainment System, My Little Pony, Care Bears, WereBears stuffed bears, and Cabbage Patch Kids.

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1983:

Cathedral by Raymond Carver
Changes by Danielle Steel
Christine by Stephen King
Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour
The Loser by Thomas Bernhard
Mistral’s Daughter by Judith Krantz
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Peek-a-Boo, I See You by Joan Phillips
Poland by James A. Michener
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Poland by James Michener
Return of the Jedi by James Kahn
Space by James Michener
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Joan D. Vinge
White Gold Wielder by Stephen R. Donaldson
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Broadway Show

La Cage aux Folles (Musical) Opened on August 21, 1983, and closed on November 15, 1987

Best Film Oscar Winner:

Gandhi (presented in 1983)

The Big Movies: (according to boxofficemojo)

1. Return Of The Jedi
2. Terms of Endearment
3. Flashdance
4. Trading Places
5. WarGames
6. Octopussy
7. Sudden Impact
8. Staying Alive
9. Mr. Mom
10. Risky Business

1983 Most Popular TV Shows:

1. Dallas (CBS)
2. 60 Minutes (CBS)
3. Dynasty (ABC)
4. The A-Team (NBC)
5. Simon & Simon (CBS)
6. Magnum, P.I. (CBS)
7. Falcon Crest (CBS)
8. Kate & Allie (CBS)
9. Hotel (ABC)
10. Cagney & Lacey (CBS)

1983 Billboard Number One Songs:

December 18, 1982January 14, 1983:
Maneater – Hall & Oates

January 15February 11:
Down Under – Men at Work

February 12February 18:
Africa – Toto

February 19March 4:
Baby, Come To Me – Patti Austin featuring James Ingram

March 5April 22:
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

April 23April 29:
Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners

April 30 – May 20:
Beat It – Michael Jackson

May 21May 27:
Let’s Dance – David Bowie

May 28July 8:
Flashdance… What A Feeling – Irene Cara

July 9September 2:
Every Breath You Take – The Police

September 3September 9:
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics

September 10September 23:
Maniac – Michael Sembello

September 24September 30:
Tell Her About It – Billy Joel

October 1 – October 28:
Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

October 29November 11:
Islands In the Stream – Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton

November 12December 9:
All Night Long (All Night) – Lionel Richie

December 10, 1983 – January 20, 1984:
Say Say Say – Paul McCartney featuring Michael Jackson


World Series Champions: Baltimore Orioles
Superbowl XVII Champions: Washington Redskins
NBA Champions: Philadelphia 76ers
Stanley Cup Champs: New York Islanders
U.S. Open Golf Larry Nelson
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Jimmy Connors/Martina Navratilova
Wimbledon (Men/Women): John McEnroe/Martina Navratilova
NCAA Football Champions: Miami
NCAA Basketball Champions: North Carolina State
Kentucky Derby: Sunny’s Halo

More 1983 Facts and History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Beirut Barracks Bombings
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1983X
1983 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Everything 80s Podcast 1983
Fact Monster
1980s, Infoplease.com World History
Lech Walesa Nobel Peace Prize
1983 in Movies (according to IMDB)
1983 Top Movies (according to BoxOfficeMojo)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
The 80s(History.com)
1980s Slang
1980s Timeline (Security and Exchange Commission)
Wikipedia 1983