Pop Culture Madness!
Pop Culture Madness!
Pop Culture Madness!

January Trivia
February Trivia
March Trivia
April Trivia
May Trivia
June Trivia
July Trivia
August Trivia
September Trivia
October Trivia
November Trivia
December Trivia
US Patents 1790-1836
2016 Trivia & History
2015 Trivia & History
2014 Trivia & History
2013 Trivia & History
2012 Trivia & History
2011 Trivia & History
2010 Trivia & History
2009 Trivia & History
2008 Trivia & History
2007 Trivia & History
2006 Trivia & History
2005 Trivia & History
2004 Trivia & History
2003 Trivia & History
2002 Trivia & History
2001 Trivia & History
2000 Trivia & History
1999 Trivia & History
1998 Trivia & History
1997 Trivia & History
1996 Trivia & History
1995 Trivia & History
1994 Trivia & History
1993 Trivia & History
1992 Trivia & History
1991 Trivia & History
1990 Trivia & History
1989 Trivia & History
1988 Trivia & History
1987 Trivia & History
1986 Trivia & History
1985 Trivia & History
1984 Trivia & History
1983 Trivia & History
1982 Trivia & History
1981 Trivia & History
1980 Trivia & History
1979 Trivia & History
1978 Trivia & History
1977 Trivia & History
1976 Trivia & History
1975 Trivia & History
1974 Trivia & History
1973 Trivia & History
1972 Trivia & History
1971 Trivia & History
1970 Trivia & History
1969 Trivia & History
1968 Trivia & History
1967 Trivia & History
1966 Trivia & History
1965 Trivia & History
1964 Trivia & History
1963 Trivia & History
1962 Trivia & History
1961 Trivia & History
1960 Trivia & History
1959 Trivia & History
1958 Trivia & History
1957 Trivia & History
1956 Trivia & History
1955 Trivia & History
1954 Trivia & History
1953 Trivia & History
1952 Trivia & History
1951 Trivia & History
1950 Trivia & History
1949 Trivia & History
1948 Trivia & History
1947 Trivia & History
1946 Trivia & History
1945 Trivia & History
1944 Trivia & History
1943 Trivia & History
1942 Trivia & History
1941 Trivia & History
1940 Trivia & History
1939 Trivia & History
1938 Trivia & History
1937 Trivia & History
1936 Trivia & History
1935 Trivia & History
1934 Trivia & History
1933 Trivia & History
1932 Trivia & History
1931 Trivia & History
1930 Trivia & History
1929 Trivia & History
1928 Trivia & History
1927 Trivia & History
1926 Trivia & History
1925 Trivia & History
1924 Trivia & History
1923 Trivia & History
1922 Trivia & History
1921 Trivia & History
1920 Trivia & History

1981 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1980

1981 History Snapshot

  • Battle of the Sexes: Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed to serve on the US Supreme Court, the first female on the court.
  • The Top Song was Physical by Olivia Newton John
  • The Big Movies included Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond and Superman II
  • Price of a postage stamp in 1981: 18 cents*
    *20 cents effective November 20, 1981
    Rubick's Cube: $3.99
  • The World Population was ~ 5,304,000,000
  • The longest professional baseball game lasted 33 innings- 8 hours and 25 minutes, in 1981 between The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, from the Triple-A International League. Pawtucket won 3-2.
  • And... The Chicken Dance was written by Werner Thomas in Switzerland, in the 1950s. It reached the dance floors in America in 1980.

World Series Champions

Los Angeles Dodgers

Superbowl XV Champions

Oakland Raiders

National Basketball Association Champions

Boston Celtics

NHL Stanley Cup Champions

New York Islanders

US Open Golf

David Graham

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

John McEnroe/Tracy Austin

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

John McEnroe/Chris Evert

NCAA Football Champions


NCAA Basketball Champions


Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1981 - Oklahoma over Florida State
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1981 - Michigan over Washington
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1981 - Georgia over Notre Dame

Kentucky Derby

Pleasant Colony

Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Dhandy's Favorite Woodcheck

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Lech Walesa

Miss America

Susan Powell (Elk City, OK)

Miss USA

Kim Seelbrede (Ohio)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, Loni Anderson, Barbara Bach, Catherine Bach, Kim Basinger, Valerie Bertinelli, Jacqueline Bisset, Christie Brinkley, Charo, Joan Collins, Lydia Cornell, Bo Derek, Janice Dickinson, Linda Evans, Morgan Fairchild, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Jane Fonda, Karen Graham, Erin Gray, Shelley Hack, Debbie Harry, Goldie Hawn, Marilu Henner, Lauren Hutton, Kathy Ireland, Grace Jones, Nastassja Kinski, Audrey Landers, Jessica Lange, Heather Locklear, Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Markie Post, Princess Diana, Victoria Principal, Tanya Roberts, Diana Ross, Brooke Shields, Jacquelyn Smith, Suzanne Somers, Donna Summer, Heather Thomas, Cheryl Tiegs, Charlene Tilton

"The Quotes"

"You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans. "
- President Ronald Reagan

"Betcha canít eat just one"
-Lay's Potato Chips

"No wire hangers, ever!"
- Faye Dunaway, in Mommie Dearest

"Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!"
- Katharine Hepburn, in On Golden Pond.

"We bring good things to life"
-General Electric (GE)

"Be all that you can be"
- United States Army ad

Bob Marley's final words to his son Ziggy were, "Money can't buy life."

When President Ronald Reagan has been admitted to a hospital in 1981 due to being shot by John Hinckley Jr., he joked "Please tell me you're all Republicans." To which a surgeon who was a liberal democrat himself replied, "We're all Republicans today."

1981 Pop Culture History

Code of the Secret Service was a movie which lead actor Ronald Reagan called "the worst picture I ever made." The film inspired a man named Jerry Sparr to join the Secret Service, who in 1981, saved President Ronald Reagan from an assassination attempt.

The rolling boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was stolen from a 1955 Uncle Scrooge comic.

In 1931 when future President Ronald Reagan played on the football team for Eureka College, he took in two rival team black players in his personal home, because they were denied admission into a hotel when they were going to play against Eureka. He remained friends with one of the men until they died in 1981

1981's Frogger has the most ways to die in any arcade game. The frog may be killed in nine different ways as he crosses streets and rivers on his way home, including alligators, cars, snakes, and water.

Cranky Kong is the original Donkey Kong from the 1981 arcade game and that the current modern Donkey Kong was meant to be his son, Donkey Kong Jr.

The Go-Go's were the first, and to date only, all-female band that wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to have an album reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart with their 1981 debut album Beauty and a Beat.

George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers went on their 50/50 tour where they played in all 50 states in just 50 days

PBS painter Bob Ross served as a Master Sergeant in the USAF, one of many positions that he said required him to be "tough" and "mean." After leaving in 1981, he said that he had promised himself that if he ever left the military, he would never scream again.

MTV began on August 1st. The first video, all vidNerds know was 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by the Buggles. The second was Pat Benatar's 'You Better Run.'

Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female US Supreme Court Justice.

After the 1928 classic The Passion of Joan of Arc was panned by the French government that commissioned it and a fire destroyed the negative, the original cut of the movie was thought to be lost forever. That was until a copy was found in a closet in an Oslo mental institution in 1981.

"Bulimia" was the new word du jour.

In 1968 the Beatles formed Apple Corps Ltd (informally known as Apple). In 1981 a suit was settled with Apple Computer with the payment of $80,000 to Apple Corps. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business.

President Ronald Reagan started a program of giving "government surplus" cheese to the poor and unemployed Rust Bowl families. The cheese had been stockpiled to keep dairy prices up.

The practice of presidents returning a salute from members of the military started in 1981 by Ronald Reagan.

An LP titled The Wit & Wisdom of Ronald Reagan was released in the UK, the joke being that the record was completely silent on both sides. It sold over 30,000 copies.

Only 9 US military officers have held the 5-star rank. It was created during WW2 because US officers were often commanding allied officers of higher rank. A 5-star officer cannot retire and remains on active duty for life. It was retired in 1981 on the death of General Omar Bradley.

"Weird" Al Yankovic received a Bachelor's degree in Architecture at California Polytechnic State University,in 1981. He also served as valedictorian of his high school at age 16.

The Smurfs, created in 1958, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series brought them into American pop culture. Athough many fans think Smurfette was the only female Smurf, there were actually two more - Nanny Smurf and Sassette Smurf. There was no Smurfina.

Due to the limitations of arcade hardware in 1981, Mario was clothed in red overalls and blue shirt to contrast his arms, body, and background. The cap was added to avoid drawing his hairstyle, forehead, and eyebrows. The large nose and mustache avoided the need to draw a mouth and expressions

Prince Charles married Lady Diana on July 29, 1981. It was on TV and in all the newspapers.

Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Wall, got a "B" in her architecture class for her design from her professor who also submitted a design for the wall, losing to his student.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1981: $275,000

The cost of a gigabite of data storage was $300,000.

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke made up a story about an 8-year-old herion addict named Jimmy. He didn't exist, but her pleas that he could have existed didn't stop her from getting in trouble.

Although similar stories were told over a century before, the 1981 publication of Jan Harold Brunvand's book, The Vanishing Hitchhiker, brought the 'Vanishing Hitchhiker' urban myth into mainstream Popular Culture.

Harvard professor Roger Fisher proposed implanting nuclear launch codes in a volunteer so that the President would have to kill an innocent person before firing. The Pentagon rejected the idea fearing the President would not go through with it even if it was necessary.

Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers after they refused to end their strike and subsequently banned them from federal service for life.

A couple sued AC/DC in 1981 for $250,000 because their telephone number is in the song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap resulting in hundreds of prank calls. The song's 36-24-36 digits were followed by a "hey!", which to his clients sounded like an "8".

Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant is actually a song about the 1981 Brixton Riot in London.

Konrad Kujau sold the fraudulent Hitler Diaries to a West German newsmagazine for $3.2 million in 1981.

When a then-unknown Prince opened up for the Rolling Stones on the first of two nights in LA in 1981, the crowd threw beer cans at him and booed him off the stage within the first 20 minutes of his set. He came on the stage wearing nothing but bikini briefs and a trench coat.

The Stanley Cup Champions 1963 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1972 Boston Bruins and 1981 New York Islanders have their engravings misspelled as Leaes, BQSTQN and Ilanders, respectively. There are also several player name errors.

The small Spanish town of Huéscar declared war on Denmark in 1809. They simply forget they were at war for the next 172 years and only signed a peace treaty when a local historian rediscovered the declaration of war in 1981.

Jack Henry Abbott was a felon/murderer/bank robber who wrote In the Belly of the Beast while in prison. Norman Mailer and other vouched for him... he was released and stabbed an employee at a restaurant who told him he could not use the employee's rest room. Back in prison, he killed himself in 2002.

Atari's first world tournament in 1981 didn't go so well with initial winning checks bouncing, low participation and contestants having to use their own quarters for games

Actress Drowning Death: Actress Natalie Wood died, apparently falling overboard after a day/night sailing with hubby Robert Wagner and mutual friend Christopher Walken.

Actor Injury Death: William Holden was drunk, fell and cut his head open. He didn't realize how injured he was, didn't call for help, and died from the what should have been a fairly easy stiching.

Pop Star Automobile Death: Harry Chapin

A man named Roger Fischer had an idea for a volunteer to have ICBM launch codes put in their chest cavity. In the event of an emergency, the volunteer would carry a knife to be killed with. It was meant to force the personal killing of one man to start the impersonal killing of millions.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts


Woman's World began publication

Computer Gaming World Magazine (1981-2006)

Shape began publication

Elle began publication

Health began publication

The Habits

Still working on last year's fad, The Rubik's Cube, Donkey Kong, Frogger (arcade), playing withHe-Man and the Masters of the Universe action figures
Reading Noble House by James Clavell
Reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

1981/82 Biggest Television Shows

(according to Nielsen TV Research)
1. Dallas (CBS)
2. 60 Minutes (CBS)
3. The Jeffersons (CBS)
4. Three's Company (ABC)
5. Alice (CBS)
6. The Dukes of Hazzard (CBS)
7. Too Close For Comfort (ABC)
8. ABC Monday Night Movie (ABC)
9. M*A*S*H (CBS)
10. One Day at a Time (CBS)

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1981 include
Air Supply, Barbra Streisand, Blondie, Chaka Kahn, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eddie Rabbit, Evelyn 'Champagne' King, Foreignor, The Gap Band, George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., John Lennon, Journey, Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, Kool & the Gang, Lakeside, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, The Police, Prince, Ray Parker Jr & Raydio, REO Speedwagon, Rick James, Rick Springfield, Roger, Shalamar, Sheena Easton, Smokey Robinson, Styx, Sugarhill Gang, Teddy Pendergrass

(Data is complied from various charts including: Billboard's Pop, Rock, Airplay, R&B/Dance and Singles Charts. The Hot 100 is the primary chart used for this list.)

Number One Hits of 1981

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

January 31, 1981 - February 6, 1981: Blondie - The Tide Is High

February 7, 1981 - February 20, 1981: Kool & the Gang - Celebration

February 21, 1981 - February 27, 1981: Dolly Parton - 9 to 5

February 28, 1981 - March 20, 1981: Eddie Rabbitt - I Love a Rainy Night

March 21, 1981 - March 27, 1981: REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You

March 28, 1981 - April 10, 1981: Blondie - Rapture

April 11, 1981 - May 1, 1981: Daryl Hall and John Oates - Kiss on My List

May 2, 1981 - May 15, 1981: Sheena Easton - Morning Train (Nine to Five)

May 16, 1981 - June 19, 1981: Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

June 20, 1981 - July 24, 1981: Stars on 45 - Medley: Intro Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I'll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You're Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45

July 25, 1981 - July 31, 1981: Air Supply - The One That You Love

August 1, 1981 - August 14, 1981: Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl

August 15, 1981 - October 16, 1981: Diana Ross and Lionel Richie - Endless Love

October 17, 1981 - November 6, 1981: Christopher Cross - Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)

November 7, 1981 - November 20, 1981: Daryl Hall and John Oates - Private Eyes

November 21, 1981 - January 29, 1982: Olivia Newton-John - Physical

Popular Movies

(according to boxofficemojo)
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
2. On Golden Pond
3. Superman II
4. Arthur
5. Stripes
6. The Cannonball Run
7. Chariots Of Fire
8. For Your Eyes Only
9. The Four Seasons
10. Time Bandits
*In 1981, 8 of the top 10 grossing movies were original stories; in 2011, none of the top 10 were original stories.

Absence of Malice, An American Werewolf in London, Arthur, Bustin Loose, The Cannonball Run, Chariots of Fire, Clash of the Titans, Endless Love, The Evil Dead, Excalibur, For Your Eyes Only, The Four Seasons, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Muppet Caper, History of the World Part I, Mad Max II: The Road WArrior, Mommie Dearest, Neighbors, On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, Scanners, Sharkey's Machine, Stripes, Superman II, Taps, Tarzan, the Ape Man, Time Bandits

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1981
# 1 Hits of 1981
Pop Culture News

Pop-Culture.us is part of the Pop Culture Madness network - your complete Trivia and entertaining news resource.
Our motto: "All The Pop Culture News That Fits, We Print!"

The facts listed are true to the best of our knowledge and should be considered by readers to be a starting point to learn more about American Popular Culture. Please send and additions or corrections to Editor @popculturemadness.com.
Everything else © copyright 1999-2020 Pop Culture Madness, unless stated otherwise.

By the way, PCM does NOT allow frequent Pop up ads, Pop under ads, or sneaky spyware. Nor do we link to sites that have excessive Pop-ups, spyware or inappropriate (all ages) material. If you find one, please let us know and they are toast!
Also, since we don't "sell out" to those Pop-up advertisers, and we're too proud (so far) to ask for donations, we'd like to proudly point out some of our carefully chosen advertisers throughout the site. They have some cool stuff that should be sitting in your room, or wrapped like a present for a friend.
Please check 'em out!

pop, as in 'popular' :(adjective) Pertaining to the common people, or the people as a whole as distinguished from any particular class.
Having characteristics attributed to the common people and intended for or suited to ordinary people.

culture:(noun) That which is excellent in the arts.
A particular stage of civilization. The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.

madness: (noun) The state of being mad. insanity, senseless folly, intense excitement or enthusiasm.
Privacy Statement/Contact
TL;DR - Privacy Statement: We will not sell, give or share any personal information, including e-mail addresses, of any of our visitors to anyone outside of Pop Culture Madness. com or our affiliated network sites. We do not accept any stealth or spyware advertisers or third party sponsors of such programs. Pop Culture Madness. com and affiliated sites do not send spam, offer get-rich-quick schemes, offer or suggest "enhancement" devices or medications via e-mail.

For purposes of Review, we often (usually) get samples, press access and other 'inside information.'
Take that into account when you read a positive (or negative) Review, on PCM or anywhere on the internet.
PCM does use third-party advertising companies, such as google, to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies,
click here.