1987 History Trivia and Fun Facts

1987 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1987:

  • World Changing Event: The Black Monday crash on Oct. 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 508 points or 22.6%.
  • The Top Song was Faith by George Michael
  • The Movies to Watch include The Princess Bride, Good Morning Vietnam, Moonstruck, Dirty Dancing, Wall Street, and Lethal Weapon.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Robin Williams.
  • Notable books include Misery by Stephen King and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
  • The price of a daily newspaper in 1987 was 25 cents
    Videocassette, VHS: $3.49
    Gummi Bears: $2.99/pound
  • The Giants defeated the Broncos 39-20, and Simms was named MVP of Super Bowl XXI. He is credited for being the first to use the phrase “I’m going to Disney World!” At Superbowl XXI, Phil Simms was named MVP of Super Bowl XXI. He is credited for being the first to use the phrase “I’m going to Disney World!”
  • The Funny Late Night Host: Johnny Carson
    The Funny Lady: Roseanne Barr
  • The Unusual TV Show Factoid of 1987: Valerie Harper was fired from her sitcom Valerie. It was the first time an actor was fired from a show named for them and replaced with a different lead actor.
  • The Simpsons started as an animated short on The Tracey Ullman Show, and Tracey Ullman was the original voice of Marge Simpson.
  • The Conversation: All eyes were on 18-month-old Jessica McClure, who fell into a well in Midland, Texas. After two days, she made it out alive.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1987:

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols:

Elle Macpherson

Hollywood Hunks and Leading Men:

Johnny Depp, Michael Jackson, Sean Connery, Mel Gibson, Michael Hutchence, Morrissey, Mickey Rourke, Patrick Swayze, Tom Jones

“The Quotes”

“I’m going to Disney World.”
– Phil Simms after winning Superbowl XXI

“This is your brain… This is drugs… This is your brain on drugs.”

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
– Michael Douglass, as Gordon Gekko, in Wall Street

“Snap out of it!”
– Cher, in Moonstruck

“Nobody puts ‘Baby’ in a corner.”
– Patrick Swayze, in Dirty Dancing

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
– Ronald Reagan requesting the elimination of the Berlin Wall

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year:

Mikhail Gorbachev

Miss America:

Kellye Cash (Memphis, TN)

Miss USA:

Michelle Royer (Texas)

The Scandals:

Jim Bakker resigned as the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club host in 1987 after a scandal involving former secretary Jessica Hahn.

Gary Hart, a Democrat, abandoned his 1988 campaign for U.S. president after details of his alleged affair with Donna Rice became public. Prior, he challenged reporters to “Follow me” around, and they did.

budd-dwyerRobert “Budd” Dwyer was a former Pennsylvania politician who, on January 22, committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with a handgun during a live televised press conference.

Iran-Contra – Reagan security advisor Ollie North was part of a plan to help anti-communist Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua with funds from Iran, which directly (or indirectly) got hostages out of Iran. Israel may or may not have been involved in the deal as well. It was much more confusing than it sounds here.

Pop Culture Facts & History:

Eli Lilly & Company’s Prozak was first sold to the public.

The Garbage Pail Kids were made into a live-action movie in 1987, with a cast of little people.

Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill album made history in 1987 as the first rap album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and it spent seven straight weeks at No.1.

Red M&Ms were discontinued in 1976 in response to the “red dye scare” over Red Dyes #2 and #4, which had been considered cancerous. M&M’s were made with Red Dye #40, but the public was afraid of any food being dyed red. Red M&M’s were reintroduced in 1987.

1987 was the year that Red Bull started accelerating parties.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis invented and patented (#4,753,647) a diaper modification, a moisture-proof pocket containing wipes for easy access. She refused to allow it to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diapers; the patent expired in 2007 and is now in the public domain.

The heaviest newspaper ever delivered was the September 14, 1987 edition of the New York Times. It weighed 12 lbs. and contained 1,612 pages.

In 1987, Steve Rothstein bought a lifetime unlimited first-class American Airlines ticket. He flew over 10,000 flights, costing the company $21,000,000. They terminated his ticket in 2008. In addition to his AAirpass for $250,000, he got a companion ticket for $150,000 more.

Italy’s Andrea de Cesaris, the driver who placed 3rd in the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix, finished the race by pushing his car over the finish line because the car had run out of gas.

In 1987, 50% of the US population had access to 9-1-1 emergency service numbers.

When the Pope visited Arizona in 1987, 75,000 Catholics attended mass at a local university’s stadium. The stadium’s name and the mascot’s image had to be covered because their mascot is the devil holding a pitchfork, and the stadium’s name was Sun Devil Stadium.

During their 1987 Joshua Tree tour, the Irish rock band U2 occasionally appeared on stage as a “local” country band known as “The Dalton Brothers,” complete with wigs and costumes.

A new word, “Borked,” came into the political arena, meaning “railroaded through an interview, with no chance of being approved.”

Some 7 million American children suddenly disappeared in 1987 when the IRS started demanding that their Social Security numbers be included on the tax returns of those claiming them as dependents.

In 1987 Harvey Comics sued Columbia Pictures for $50 million, claiming that the Ghostbusters logo was too reminiscent of Fatso from ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’. The court ruled in Columbia’s favor, citing the “limited ways to draw a figure of a cartoon ghost.”

Roger Cadenhead registered the domain name benedictxvi.com several weeks before Pope Benedict XVI chose the name. He said he would give it to the Vatican for a miter and “complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987”. His offer was declined, and he donated the domain to ModestNeedsorg.

Since 1720, the Baltic Sea has frozen over 20 times, and the most recent case was in early 1987.

Tennis bracelets became known as ‘tennis bracelets’ in 1987 when that type of bracelet became popular after the tennis player Chris Evert lost her bracelet on air at the US Open.

In 1987, Bruce Willis released a Motown R&B album called The Return of Bruno, with Respect Yourself reaching #5 on the US Billboard Pop Chart.

Steven Spielberg’s film Empire of the Sun (1987), about a boy surviving Japanese occupation during World War II, received six Oscar nominations but lost all of them to The Last Emperor ( also 1987), the story of the final Emperor of China.

There is no national minimum drinking age in the United States. Instead, a law called the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 punishes states that allow anyone under 21 to purchase alcohol by cutting their federal highway funds by 10%. The last state to comply was Louisiana in 1987.

To lower the retail price of the VHS release of Top Gun in 1987 to a more affordable $27, Pepsi sponsored a 60-second ad before the film. $27 is $60 in today’s dollars.

Bras were not shown on live models in TV commercials until 1987… before that, they had to be displayed on headless/armless mannequins.

A treasure hunter named Tommy Thompson located a ship that sank in 1857 called the SS Central America. The ship carried several tons of gold; in 1987, he recovered up to $1 billion worth of gold. He never paid back his crew or investors.

Tom’s Restaurant, the inspiration for Suzanne Vega’s 1987 song Tom’s Diner, is the same diner used as the exterior for the fictional Monk’s Café in the television sitcom Seinfeld.

In 1987 someone wearing a Max Headroom mask interrupted 2 TV broadcasts in Chicago. The FBI investigation was never solved.

Jon Bon Jovi’s parents were attending a wedding in 1987 when they recommended the wedding singer try out for Jon’s friend’s band. The singer was Sebastian Bach, and that band became Skid Row.

The tallest unoccupied building in the world is a 3,000-room hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Construction on the 1,082-foot Ryugyong Hotel began in 1987 and was halted in 1992. After many attempts to resurrect the project, the hotel still hasn’t opened 28 years after construction began.

Bebop & Rocksteady were added to the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon primarily because the toy company wanted more characters to sell.

Thousands of cans filled with 1.5 kg of pot started washing ashore on the coast of Rio and São Paulo. In total, there were 22 tons of marijuana dumped by traffickers scared of the DEA while parked near Brazil. The cans were collected at the beaches. The Summer of 1987 was known as the ‘Summer of the Can.’

The 1987 Porsche 944 was the first car sold with standard driver and passenger-side airbags.

Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx suffered a heroin overdose that left him legally dead for two minutes. One of his paramedics, who was a Crüe fan, revived him with two shots of adrenaline. This is what motivated the song “Kickstart My Heart”.

In 1987, Mike Hayes convinced 2.8 million people to send him a penny each for his college education at the University of Illinois. Some people sent more. He raised $29,000, one thousand more than his target.

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.

300,000+ People joined on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The sheer weight of all those people flattened the bridge and caused the middle to sag 7 feet (or 15 feet, depending on who is telling the story).

Until 1987, surgeries could be performed on babies with no anesthesia, as it was commonly thought that babies could not feel pain. #wut

“Baby Jessica” (Jessica McClure), who fell down a well in October of 1987 and was rescued after 58 hours, received $1.2 million for a trust fund from multiple donations. She used part of those funds at age 25 to purchase a home but lost most of what was left in the stock market crash in 2008.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1987: $600,000

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, has gone through 9 name changes since being built in 1987.
Joe Robbie Stadium (August 16, 1987 – August 25, 1996)
Pro Player Park August (26, 1996 – September 9, 1996)
Pro Player Stadium (September 10, 1996 – January 9, 2005)
Dolphins Stadium (January 10, 2005 – April 7, 2006)
Dolphin Stadium (April 8, 2006 – May 7, 2009)
Land Shark Stadium (May 8, 2009 – January 5, 2010)
Dolphin Stadium (January 6, 2010 – January 19, 2010)
Sun Life Stadium (January 20, 2010 – January 31, 2016)
New Miami Stadium (February 1, 2016 – August 16, 2016)
Hard Rock Stadium (August 17, 2016–present)

The Spy:

In 1987, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was tasked by his superiors to find a mole within the agency after the FBI’s moles in the KGB were caught. He was the mole, working with the KGB since 1979. He was caught in 2001.

The Feuds:

Singer/songwriter Debbie ‘Foolish Beat’ Gibson vs Tiffany, who sang Tommy James’ I Think We’re Alone Now.
(not really; they barely knew each other, but they did battle it out a few years later on Syfy’s Mega Python vs. Gatoroid in 2011)

After two and a half seasons, David and Maddie ‘did it’ on TV’s Moonlighting. Then, the audience stopped watching the show.
At this point, Stars Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard were barely speaking in real life.

The U.S. Senate rejected Robert Bork as a Ronald Reagan Supreme Court Justice.

The Habit:

Watching Moonlighting until about 1/2 way through the season.

Nobel Prize Winners:

Physics – J. Georg Bednorz, Karl Alexander Müller
Chemistry – Donald J. Cram, Jean-Marie Lehn, Charles J. Pedersen
Medicine – Susumu Tonegawa
Literature – Joseph Brodsky
Peace – Óscar Arias Sánchez
Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel – Robert Solow

1st Appearances & 1987’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents:

Double Loves transforming plush animals, Jenga, Koosh ball, and Pictionary (Pictionary has been available in small markets since 1985)

Spuds MacKenzie first appeared in Bud Light beer advertisements.

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1987:

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Fine Things by Danielle Steel
The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
Heaven and Hell by John Jakes
I Am Not Going to Get Up Today! by Dr. Seuss and James Stevenson
It by Stephen King
Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steel
Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor
Misery by Stephen King
New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford
Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon

Broadway Show:

Les Miserables (Musical) Opened on March 12, 1987, and closed on May 18, 2003

Best Film Oscar Winner:

Platoon (presented in 1987)

The Bomb (Movie):

Ishtar starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman

The Bomb (Television):

Shelly Long Quit the popular NBC TV Show Cheers

The Big Movies: (according to boxofficemojo)

1. Three Men and A Baby
2. Fatal Attraction
3. Beverly Hills Cop II
4. Good Morning, Vietnam
5. Moonstruck
6. The Untouchables
7. The Secret Of My Success
8. Stakeout
9. Lethal Weapon
10. The Witches of Eastwick

1987 Most Popular TV Shows:

1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Roseanne (ABC)
3. A Different World (NBC)
4. Cheers (NBC)
5. 60 Minutes (CBS)
6. The Golden Girls (NBC)
7. Who’s the Boss? ( ABC)
8. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
9. Empty Nest (NBC)
10. Anything But Love (ABC)

1987 Billboard Number One Songs:

December 20, 1986January 16, 1987:
Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles

January 17January 23:
Shake You Down – Gregory Abbott

January 24February 6:
At this Moment – Billy Vera and The Beaters

February 7February 13:
Open Your Heart – Madonna

February 14March 13:
Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi

March 14March 11:
Jacob’s Ladder – Huey Lewis & the News

March 21April 3:
Lean On Me – Club Nouveau

April 4April 17:
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship

April 18May 1:
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin & George Michael

May 2May 15:
(I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

May 16June 5:
With Or Without You – U2

June 6 – June 12:
You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Kim Wilde

June 13June 19:
Always – Atlantic Starr

June 20 – June 6:
Head to Toe – Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

June 27July 10:
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston

July 11July 31:
Alone – Heart

August 1August 7:
Shakedown – Bob Seger

August 8August 21:
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2

August 22August 28:
Who’s That Girl – Madonna

August 29September 18:
La Bamba – Los Lobos

September 19September 25:
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You – Michael Jackson

September 26October 9:
Didn’t We Almost Have It All – Whitney Houston

October 10October 16:
Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

October 17October 23:
Lost In Emotion – Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

October 24November 6:
Bad – Michael Jackson

November 7November 20:
I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany

November 21November 27:
Mony Mony “Live” – Billy Idol

November 28December 4:
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

December 5December 11:
Heaven Is a Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle

December 12, 1987 – January 8, 1988:
Faith – George Michael


World Series Champions: Minnesota Twins
Superbowl XXI Champions: New York Giants
NBA Champions: Los Angeles Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Edmonton Oilers
U.S. Open Golf Scott Simpson
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Ivan Lendl/Martina Navratilova
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Pat Cash/Martina Navratilova
NCAA Football Champions: Miami
NCAA Basketball Champions: Indiana
Kentucky Derby: Alysheb

More 1987 Facts and History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1987X
1987 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Everything 80s Podcast 1987
Fact Monster
Back In Time 1980s Timeline Thoughtco.com
1980s, Infoplease.com World History
1987 in Movies (according to IMDB)
1987 Top Movies (according to BoxOfficeMojo)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
The 80s(History.com)
80s and 90s Classic NES Games (1985-1994)
1980s Slang
Wikipedia 1987