1984 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

1984 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

Quick Facts from 1984:

  • World Changing Event: Apple Computer Inc. unveiled the Macintosh personal computer for $1,995, selling almost 250,000 in 1984.
  • The Top Song was Like A Virgin by Madonna
  • Influential Songs include: White Horse by Laid Back, Better Be Good to Me by Tina Turner, Jam on It by Newcleus and Thriller by Michael Jackson
  • The Movies to Watch include Gremlins, Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, 16 Candles, Footloose, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, Red Dawn, The Natural, Purple Rain, This is Spinal Tap, The Gods Must Be Crazy and Amadeus
  • The Most Famous Person in The World was probably Bob Geldof
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 71.1 years, Females: 78.2 years
  • Notable books include You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Arlene Eisenberg & Heidi Murkoff
  • Price of a Panasonic VCR in 1984: $419 to 499.00
    120-minute JVC videotape: $9.99
    Health Club membership: $99.00/year
  • The Funny Band was Spinal Tap
    The Funny Musician was: Weird Al Yankovic
    The Funny Lady was Joan Rivers
  • The Question: “Where’s The Beef?” – Clara Peller, in a Wendy’s advertisement.
  • The Conversation/Mystery: Did performance artist/comedian Andy Kaufman die at age 34?

Top Ten Baby Names of 1984:

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols:

Loni Anderson, Catherine Bach, Kim Basinger, Jacqueline Bisset, Linda Blair, Christie Brinkley, Phoebe Cates, Joan Collins, Lydia Cornell, Sybil Danning, Bo Derek, Farrah Fawcett, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Kathy Ireland, Grace Jones, Nastassja Kinski, Jessica Lange, Heather Langenkamp, Kelly LeBrock, Heather Locklear, Madonna, Kelli Maroney, Dolly Parton, Paulina Porizkova, Victoria Principal, Helen Slater, Suzanne Somers, Brinke Stevens, Catherine Mary Stewart, Heather Thomas, Mary Woronov

Leading Men and Hollywood Heartthrobs:

Mel Gibson, Michael Hutchence, Christopher Reeve, Patrick Swayze, Robert Redford

“The Quotes”

“Where’s the Beef?”
– Clara Peller, Wendy’s commercial

“I’ll be back.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger, in The Terminator

At the height of the Cold War in 1984, President Reagan was about to appear on a radio interview and, as a soundcheck, said, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year:

Peter Ueberroth

Miss America:

Vanessa Williams (9/17/83-7/23/84) (Millwood, NJ)
Suzette Charles (7/23/84-9/15/84) (Mays Landing, NJ)

Miss USA:

Mai Shanley (New Mexico)

The Scandals:


On December 3rd, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. The poisonous gas leak was found at 11:45 pm, immediately before the Bhopal disaster that killed thousands; a decision was made to do something about it after the 12:15 am tea break. 20,000 people were killed, and an additional 120,000 suffered ailments from this disaster later. 

Fantasy Records sued John Fogarty for copyright infringement because his 1984 hit The Old Man Down The Road sounded too much like CCR’s 1970 hit Run Through The Jungle, a song that Fogarty wrote and produced.

Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America, lost her crown because some ‘artsy’ nude photos taken several years earlier were published in Penthouse magazine… It was also the first time a male (George Burns) appeared on the cover. Since an underage Traci Lords was the centerfold, no one is allowed to own this particular issue either. Vanessa went on to become one of the most successful Miss Americas ever.

Singer Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939April 1, 1984) was shot and killed by his father on the day before his 45th birthday.

Pop Culture Facts & History:

In Minnesota, Ronald Reagan was 3,761 votes shy of winning every state in the 1984 Presidential Election. He won 49 states and 525 electoral votes in the 1984 presidential election, the most in history.

In July 1984, President Ronald Reagan called ice cream “a nutritious and wholesome food” and established National Ice Cream Month.

In 1984, a young boy named Andy Smith wrote a letter to Ronald Reagan asking for federal funds to clean his bedroom after his mother called it a “disaster area.”

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, of the National Party, got drunk and decided to call a general election, which he lost spontaneously.

The US Federal law enacted in July 1984, which established the national minimum drinking age as 21 years old, allowed the government to withhold Federal aid to highways from States that did not quickly adapt.

The United States severed direct diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1867 in the wake of rumors of Catholic implications in the Lincoln assassination. Direct relations were reestablished in 1984.

Bruce McCandless floated in space utterly unattached to anything, 320 feet away from the space shuttle with only a nitrogen jetpack back in 1984.

Apple’s infamous “1984” ad for the Macintosh computer was secretly aired once on local television in Twin Falls, Idaho, in December 1983, a month before its national premier during Super Bowl XVIII. This allowed it to qualify for the 1984 Clio Advertising Awards.

The famous “Keyboard Cat” video was originally filmed in 1984, and its star, Fatso, died in 1987, twenty years before it was posted on YouTube.

SEGA was founded as an American company in 1953 as Service Games, and it wasn’t until 1984 that it became a Japanese company through a corporate buyout.

It took 12 years before Alexy Pajitnov, creator of Tetris in 1984, received any royalties because the rights to the game were the property of his Soviet government.

English grandmother Jane Snowball ordered groceries with her TV remote, sending them to her local store through her phone line. She was the first person ever to shop online.

Michael Dell started selling Dell Computers, targeting small businesses and households instead of high-end consumers like his competitors (IBM, Apple, Compaq).

Molecular biologist Alec Jeffreys developed DNA testing.

John Wayne Gacy’s former attorney, Sam Amirante, who heard Gacy’s original confession to over 30 murders, later went on to author the Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984, which removed the 72-hour waiting period to begin the search for a missing child.

The Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams Beer, was founded.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream was invented by ‘Ben and Jerry’s’ in 1984 after a fan anonymously listed it as an idea on their ‘flavor board.’

The ‘EGOT’ – an acronym used to designate people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony – was coined in 1984 by newly-famous Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas, who stated a desire to achieve EGOT status within five years. He has never been nominated for any of the EGOT awards.

In 1984, the U.S. Army gave Donald Duck an honorable discharge in honor of his military service for appearances in Disney WWII cartoons and WWII mascots embodied in combat units of various U.S. military branches.

Bill Murray coined the modern use of the phrase “you’re toast” by ad-libbing a line in Ghostbusters.

When Dune (1984) was originally released in theaters, some locations gave out “cheat sheets” for people confused with the terminology of the Dune universe.

“Madison” was nearly unheard of as a girl’s name until 1984. In the film Splash, Daryl Hannah’s character names herself Madison after reading a street sign. Tom Hanks’ character tells her that Madison isn’t a real name.

The first movie rated PG-13 was 1984’s Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze.

Marvel Comics G.I. Joe #21 (1984) was a completely silent issue. Writer/Artist Larry Hama told a complete story: beginning, middle, end, conflict, characterization, action, and solid resolution, without word balloons, captions, or sound effects.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first appeared in comic books. In 1987, the first TMNT cartoons appeared.

Only eight actors voiced all 66 characters with speaking roles in the 1984 cartoon series ThunderCats.

Ringo Starr was the narrator for Thomas the Tank Engine from 1984 to 1990.

British comedian Tommy Cooper had a heart attack and died on live television. The audience assumed it was part of his act and laughed/applauded during his final moments.

Weird Al Yankovic’s single “Eat It” reached number 1 in Australia. It outranked the song that it was making a parody of, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which only reached number 3.

Freddie Mercury took a nasty fall and severely hurt his leg midway through a show. He and the band decided it wouldn’t be fair to fans to end it, so he performed Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You & We Are the Champions, seated at his piano.

In 1984, the band Yes created 18 different versions of the music video for their song Leave It, which was played in a marathon on MTV.

American Kim Coberly Hula-Hooped for 72 hours in October 2004.

The 1984 World Chess Championship was abandoned with no winner after 48 games over five months, with 40 of the games ending in draws.

Gary Player played the lowest PGA score of 63.

Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein, was named Chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee in 1984. Athletes who disappointed him were subject to torture and imprisonment.

Mcdonald’s introduced the McDLT, which sold in a specially designed two-sided container that kept the hamburger “hot” while keeping the lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, and sauces “cool.” It was discontinued in the early 90s as McDonald’s removed polystyrene packaging.

During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Mcdonalds ran a nationwide promotion offering free products every time a US athlete won a medal. It turned into their most costly promotion ever when the Soviet Union, the powerhouse team of the time, boycotted the event, letting the USA win many more medals than expected.

Javelin thrower Uwe Hohn threw a distance of 104.8m and became the first and only athlete in history to break the 100m barrier. Shortly afterwards some changes in the design of javelins were implemented and the records had to be restarted, turning his mark into an “eternal world record”.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1984: $368,000

Doomsday Clock:

3 minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1984: “U.S.-Soviet relations reach their iciest point in decades. Dialogue between the two superpowers virtually stops. “Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda,” a concerned Bulletin informs readers. The United States seems to flout the few arms control agreements in place by seeking an expansive, space-based anti-ballistic missile capability, raising worries that a new arms race will begin.”

The Habit:

Playing Trivial Pursuit, listening to a sex therapist and expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer (born June 4, 1928), and watching Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

1st Appearances & 1984’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents:

Cabbage Patch Kids (again), Trivial Pursuit (specialty editions), Transformers

Do They Know It’s Christmas was released.

Written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, it was produced by Trevor Horn to help people in Ethiopia. The band was named “Band-Aid” and recorded the song and raw video footage within a day. The band included:

Adam Clayton (U2)
Phil Collins (Genesis)
Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats)
Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet)
Chris Cross (Ultravox)
John Taylor (Duran Duran)
Paul Young
Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet)
Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17)
Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran)
Simon Crowe (The Boomtown Rats)
Keren Woodward (Bananarama)
Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
Jody Watley (Shalamar)
Bono (U2)
Paul Weller (The Style Council)
James “J.T.” Taylor (Kool & the Gang)
George Michael (Wham!)
Midge Ure (Ultravox)
Martyn Ware (Heaven 17)
John Keeble (Spandau Ballet)
Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
Sarah Dallin (Bananarama)
Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama)
Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats)
Francis Rossi (Status Quo)
Robert ‘Kool’ Bell (Kool & the Gang)
Dennis J. T. Thomas (Kool & the Gang)
Andy Taylor (Duran Duran)
Jon Moss (Culture Club)
Sting (The Police)
Rick Parfitt (Status Quo)
Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran)
Johnny Fingers (The Boomtown Rats)
David Bowie
Boy George (Culture Club)
Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Paul McCartney
Stuart Adamson (Big Country)
Bruce Watson (Big Country)
Tony Butler (Big Country)
Mark Brzezicki (Big Country)

**Wham! donated all the royalties from “Last Christmas”—released December 1984—to Ethiopia famine aid.**

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1984:

“…And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer
The Aquitaine Progression by Robert Ludlum
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer
First Lady from Plains by Rosalynn Carter
The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth
Full Circle by Danielle Steel
Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Iacocca: an Autobiography by Lee Iacocca with William Novak
In Search of Excellence by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr.
The Kennedys: an American Drama by Peter Collier and David Horowitz
The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz by Joan Rivers
Lincoln by Gore Vidal
Love and War by John Jakes
Loving Each Other by Leo Buscaglia
Mayor by Edward I. Koch with William Rauch
Money by Martin Amis
Motherhood: the Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Sicilian by Mario Puzo
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Thinner by Stephen King
The Wasp Family by Iain Banks
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundra
Who Killed the Robins Family? by Thomas Chastain

Best Film Oscar Winner:

Terms of Endearment (presented in 1984)

The Big Movies: (according to boxofficemojo)

1. Beverly Hills Cop
2. Ghostbusters
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
4. Gremlins
5. The Karate Kid
6. Police Academy
7. Footloose
8. Romancing The Stone
9. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
10. Splash

1984 Most Popular TV Shows:

1. Dynasty (ABC)
2. Dallas (CBS)
3. The Cosby Show (NBC)
4. 60 Minutes (CBS)
5. Family Ties (NBC)
6. The A-Team (NBC)
7. Simon & Simon (CBS)
8. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
9. Knots Landing (CBS)
10. Falcon Crest (CBS)

1984 Billboard Number One Songs

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

January 21February 3:
Owner of a Lonely Heart – Yes

February 4February 24:
Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

February 25March 20:
Jump – Van Halen

March 31April 20:
Footloose – Kenny Loggins

April 21May 11:
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins

May 12May 25:
Hello – Lionel Richie

May 26June 8:
Let’s Hear It For The Boy – Deniece Williams

June 9June 22:
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper

June 23July 6:
The Reflex – Duran Duran

July 7August 10:
When Doves Cry – Prince

August 11 – August 31:
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr.

September 1 – September 21:
What’s Love Got to Do With It – Tina Turner

September 22September 28:
Missing You – John Waite

September 29October 12:
Let’s Go Crazy – Prince & The Revolution

October 13November 2:
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

November 3November 16:
Caribbean Queen (No More Love On the Run) – Billy Ocean

November 17December 7:
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!

December 8December 21:
Out of Touch – Hall & Oates

December 22, 1984 – February 1, 1985:
Like a Virgin – Madonna


World Series Champions:     Detroit Tigers
Superbowl XVIII Champions:     Los Angeles Raiders
NBA Champions:     Boston Celtics
Stanley Cup Champs:     Edmonton Oilers
U.S. Open Golf     Fuzzy Zoeller
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies)     John McEnroe/Martina Navratilova
Wimbledon (Men/Women):     John McEnroe/Martina Navratilova
NCAA Football Champions:     BYU
NCAA Basketball Champions:     Georgetown
Kentucky Derby:     Swale

More 1984 Facts and History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1984X
1984 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Everything 80s Podcast 1984
Fact Monster
Back In Time 1980s Timeline Thoughtco.com
1980s, Infoplease.com World History
Millennial Generation (1981-1996)
1984 in Movies (according to IMDB)
1984 Top Movies (according to BoxOfficeMojo)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
80s Facts About the 80s(Mental Floss)
1980s Slang
1984 Events BestlifeOnline
Wikipedia 1984