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1986 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1985

1986 History Snapshot

  • War: The longest war in recorded history lasted 335 years and brgan in 1951. It was between the Dutch and the Isles of Scilly, there were no casualties, and the Dutch actually forgot about the conflict until a Scilly historian contacted them about it in 1985. A treaty was signed between them in 1986.
  • The Disaster: On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight leading to the death of all 7 members of the crew. Because teacher Christa McAuliffe was on the crew, millions of young students watched the accident happen.
  • The Top Song was That's What Friends are For by
    Dinone Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder
  • The Big Movies included Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee and Platoon
  • Price of a gallon of gas in 1986: 93 cents
    Dodge D-50 pickup truck: $5,595.00
  • The World Population was ~ 4,901,000,000
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 71.2 years, Females: 78.2 years
  • Lazer Tag was introduced in 1986.
    American Girl Dolls entered the market.
    Labyrinth (board game) was unveiled in 1986.

World Series Champions

New York Mets

Superbowl XX Champions

Chicago Bears

National Basketball Association Champions

Boston Celtics

NHL Stanley Cup Champions

Montreal Canadians

US Open Golf

Ray Floyd

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

Ivan Lendl/Martina Navratilova

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Boris Becker/Marina Navratilova

FIFA World Cup Soccer


NCAA Football Champions

Penn State

NCAA Basketball Champions


Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1986 - Oklahoma over Penn State
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1986 - UCLA over Iowa
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1986 - Tennessee over Miami

Kentucky Derby


Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Marjetta's National Acclaim

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Corazon Aquino

Miss America

Susan Akin (Meridian, MS)

Miss USA

Christy Fichtner (Texas)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Carol Alt, Rosanna Aquette, Kim Basinger, Diahann Carroll, Cher, Sybil Danning, Rebecca DeMornay, Elvira, Linda Evangelista, Linda Evans, Morgan Fairchild, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Susannah Hoffs, Rachel Hunter, Kathy Ireland, Janet Jackson, Tawny Kitaen, Audrey Landers, Judy Landers, Heather Langenkamp, Kelly LeBrock, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Traci Lords, Elle Macpherson, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Tatjana Patitz, Paulina Porizkova, Markie Post, Princess Diana, Victoria Principal, Linnea Quigley, Molly Ringwald, Jewel Shepard, Mia Sara, Brooke Shields, Helen Slater, Heather Thomas, Cheryl Tiegs

"The Quotes"

After working on the US bid for the 1986 World Cup, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying "The politics of FIFA, they make me nostalgic for the Middle East".

"With heart, faith and steel. In the end there can only be one"
- Sean Connery, in Highlander

"I feel the need... the need for speed!"
- Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards, in Top Gun

"Pork. The other white meat"
- National Pork Board

"Yeah... That's The Ticket"
- Jon Lovitz as Tommy Flangan ('Fla-Nay-Gan')

"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"
- Vick's commercial

1986 Pop Culture History

The wave' was first brought to world-wide attention during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, and for many people living outside of North America, this was the first time they had ever seen the phenomenon - English speakers outside of North America refer to it as the "Mexican wave".

Scott Weiland met bassist Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California. The two of them were discussing their love interests, when they realized they were both dating the same girl. They developed a bond over the incident, and ended up forming Stone Temple Pilots.

The Statue of Liberty's torch was replaced in 1986 with copper plated with gold, which is why it doesn't oxidize like the rest of her.

The longest war in history was between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly (The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War), which lasted from 1651 to 1986. There were no casualties and not a single shot was fired.

Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris's parents in Ferris Bueller's Day Off', married in real life after filming the movie. Like in the movie, they had two children, a boy and a girl.

In the 1986 movie Troll, a character named Harry Potter Jr. attempts to learn magic from a woman who lives above him who's secretly a witch.

Glasgow showed support to Nelson Mandela by re-naming a street after him; the street the South African consulate was on.

In 1986, Seattle's KeyArena was the location where the only NBA game to be called because of rain took place.

Marvel's first movie, Howard The Duck, 'bombed' at the box office. It cost an estimated $37 million, and grossed under $38 million internationally, netting under $1 million.
It made a profit!

Saddam Hussein built Iraq's largest dam. He decided to call it "Saddam".

Five-year-old Levan Merritt fell into the gorilla enclosure at Durrell Wildlife Park and lost consciousness. Jambo stood guard over the boy when he was unconscious, placing himself between the boy and other gorillas in what ethologists analyze as a protective gesture.

Ronald McNair, one of the astronauts killed in the 1986 Challenger explosion, brought his saxophone with him on that mission with the intent to record the first original piece of music in space.

Teacher Pleasant Rowland created the first 'American Girl' dolls. Mattel bought the product line in 1998.

In Sept of 1986, Late Night with David Letterman aired a rerun of a Feb show. Letterman had the entire rerun dubbed from English to English using the cast of Speed Racer as the voices.

The first Legend of Zelda game was released on February 21st, 1986.

During the voice recording for 1986's Transformers: The Movie Orson Welles complained to his biographer that he had spent the day "playing a toy in a movie about toys who do horrible things to each other." It was his last role.

One of the first albums to have a parental advisory sticker was Frank Zappa's 'Jazz From Hell' in 1986. The album is completely instrumental.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 1986: $550,000.

Doritos first sold nationally as a basic corn tortilla chip in 1967, Nacho Cheese wasn't sold until 1972, and much later Cool Ranch in 1986.

Metallica's Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett drew cards to decide who would get to choose a bunk on their tour bus in 1986. Burton drew the Ace of Spades, chose the bunk Hammett had been occupying, and was thrown out of the window when the bus crashed. He died at the scene.

The 1986 graphic novel, Watchmen mentioned "DUB music." The character Ozymandias calls it "a sort of music of the future, a result of technological advances transcending the cultural barriers they set up".

Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard, lost his arm after a car accident in 1984. He thought he could never play in the band again and became very depressed until a fellow drummer helped him design an electronic drum kit that could be played with one arm. He returned to the band in 1986.

Aerosmith and Run DMC mixed rock and hip hop with Walk This Way

Peter Gabriel's stop-motion music video for Sledgehammer raised the bar for video production.

Spy Magazine (1986-1998)

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

Space Shuttle Challenger blew up 73 seconds after take-off, killing all 7 crew members. Tens of thousands of school-age children were watching the flight live, because teacher Christa McAuliffe was a member of the crew.

60 Minutes ran a scathing exposé on the Audi 5000, alleging it could wildly accelerate on its own. However, their on-air demonstration used a rigged car to show falsified results. Gov't tests later vindicated Audi but their sales had already plummeted. 60 Minutes never apologized.

The phrase "going postal" is derived from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which USPS workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.

Iran-Contra: Several members of the Reagan Administration helped sell arms to Iran, a known enemy of the United States, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla organization in Nicaragua.

Neelim Kumar Khaire set a world record in 1986 by spending 72 hours in a cage with 72 of the most venomous snake species in India; to spread awareness and to prove that snakes don't bite unless provoked. He came out of the cage, unharmed without a single bite.

An 85 year old woman died shortly after someone "slain in the spirit" fell on her and fractured her hip during a Benny Hinn religious rally. Hinn awarded the family a large but undisclosed cash settlement a day before the trial was to begin.

The United Way released 1.5 million balloons in Cleveland as a publicity stunt. It clogged the land and waterways of NE Ohio, shut down an airport runway, and forced the Coast Guard to suspend a search and rescue of 2 men who ended up drowning.

The USSR's Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant reactor # 4 had a mishap, giving radiation poisoning to an estimated 500,000 to 6,000,000 people. The city of Pripyat, Ukraine built an amusement park scheduled to open May 1, 1986, but never really had a chance to open, being abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster a few miles away.

A Soviet sub sank under odd conditions and when they revisited the wreck the missile hatches were forced open, and 2 warheads were reported missing. Most experts guess the US Navy got them.

A huge cloud of CO2 gas descended onto villages in Cameroon, killing 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock. The cloud spilled over the northern lip of a lake before rushing down two valleys, displacing all the air and suffocating people and livestock.

When Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's Vault on live TV in 1986, and after much hype, it was empty. There were probably a bunch of old gangsters who knew it was empty watching together and laughed their butts off.

165,000 people paid Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker $1000 for a lifetime annual weekend pass at the new Heritage USA Christian resort. The park went bankrupt after IRS troubles, and the donors got back $6.54 each.

Tonight Show host Johnny Carson's good friend occasional guest Tonight Show host, Joan Rivers, started a late night talk show on FOX. He never spoke to her again.

There was an alleged war that lasted 335 years between the Dutch and a English Archipelago called Scilly. There were no casualties during this war, because the Dutch forgot they were even at war with them. The war ended in 1986 when historians uncovered the war and a peace treaty was signed.

Bobby Ewing came out of the shower, alive. The prior season of Dallas had been a dream.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

Master System by Sega, Atari 7800, Real Ghostbusters action figures, My Pet Monster, Panini Football stickers, Outburst, Balderdash, Camcorders started to become a regular household item.

The Habits

Participating with 'Hands Across America' on Sunday May 25, 1986. Over six million people participated and at 3:00 EST, radio stations across America played the song Hands Across America.

Reading It by Stephen King

1986/87 Biggest Television Shows

(according to Nielsen TV Research)
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Family Ties (NBC)
3. Cheers (NBC)
4. Murder She Wrote (NBC)
5. The Golden Girls (NBC)
6. 60 Minutes (CBS)
7. Night Court (NBC)
8. Growing Pains (ABC)
9. Moonlighting (ABC)
10. Who's the Boss? ( ABC)

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1986 include
Anita Baker, Atlantic Starr, The Bangles, Billy Ocean, Bob Seger, Bon Jovi, Boston, Cameo, Cyndi Lauper, Freddie Jackson, Genesis, Heart, Huey Lewis & the News, Janet Jackson, The Jets, John Cougar Melloncamp, Levert, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Madonna, Melba Moore, Miami Sound Machine, Micheal McDonald, Mike + the Mechanics, New Edition, No Shooz, Patti LaBelle, Peter Cetera, Peter Gabrial, Pet Shop Boys, Prince, Ready for the World, Robert Palmer, Run DMC, Starship, Stephanie Mills, Steve Winwood, Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Van Halen, Wham! featuring George Michael, Whitney Houston

(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 1986

December 21, 1985 - January 17, 1986: Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me

January 18, 1986 - February 14, 1986: Dionne Warwick - That's What Friends Are For

February 15, 1986 - February 29, 1986: Whitney Houston - How Will I Know

March 1, 1986 - March 14, 1986: Mr. Mister - Kyrie

March 15, 1986 - March 21, 1986: Starship - Sara

March 22, 1986 - March 28, 1986: Heart - These Dreams

March 29, 1986 - April 18, 1986: Falco - Rock Me Amadeus

April 19, 1986 - May 2, 1986: Prince and the Revolution - Kiss

May 3, 1986 - May 9, 1986: Robert Palmer - Addicted to Love

May 10, 1986 - May 16, 1986: Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls

May 17, 1986 - June 6, 1986: Whitney Houston - Greatest Love of All

June 7, 1986 - June 13, 1986: Madonna - Live to Tell

June 14, 1986 - July 4, 1986: Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald - On My Own

July 5, 1986 - July 11, 1986: Billy Ocean - There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)

July 12, 1986 - July 18, 1986: Simply Red - Holding Back the Years

July 19, 1986 - July 25, 1986: Genesis - Invisible Touch

July 26, 1986 - August 1, 1986: Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

August 2, 1986 - August 15, 1986: Peter Cetera - Glory of Love

August 16, 1986 - August 29, 1986: Madonna - Papa Don't Preach

August 30, 1986 - September 5, 1986: Steve Winwood - Higher Love

September 6, 1986 - September 12, 1986: Bananarama - Venus

September 13, 1986 - September 19, 1986: Berlin - Take My Breath Away

September 20, 1986 - October 10, 1986: Huey Lewis and the News - Stuck with You

October 11, 1986 - October 24, 1986: Janet Jackson - When I Think of You

October 25, 1986 - November 7, 1986: Cyndi Lauper - True Colors

November 8, 1986 - November 21, 1986: Boston - Amanda

November 22, 1986 - November 28, 1986: Human League - Human

November 29, 1986 - December 5, 1986: Bon Jovi - You Give Love a Bad Name

December 6, 1986 - December 12, 1986: Peter Cetera and Amy Grant - The Next Time I Fall

December 13, 1986 - December 19, 1986: Bruce Hornsby & the Range - The Way It Is

December 20, 1986 - January 16, 1987: The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian

The Top 40 Songs of 1986*

*according to Billboard Magazine
1. That's What Friends Are For - Dionne Warwick & Friends
2. Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles
3. On My Own - Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
4. Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston
5. Stuck With You - Huey Lewis & The News
6. Rock Me Amadeus - Falco
7. Kyrie - Mr. Mister
8. Kiss - Prince
9. Papa Don't Preach - Madonna
10. How Will I Know - Whitney Houston
11. Glory of Love - Peter Cetera
12. When I Think of You - Janet Jackson
13. True Colors - Cyndi Lauper
14. Amanda - Boston
15. The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby and teh Range
16. Human - Human League
17. Addicted To Love - Robert Palmer
18. There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) - Billy Ocean
19. Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
20. West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
21. Take My Breath Away - Berlin
22. Sara - Starship
23. Venus - Bananarama
24. The Next Time I Fall - Peter Cetera with Amy Grant
25. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
26. Holding Back The Years - Simply Red
27. Higher Love - Steve Winwood
28. These Dreams - Heart
29. Live To Tell - Madonna
30. Invisible Touch - Gensis
31. Typical Male - Tina Turner
32. Dancing on the Ceiling - Lionel Richie
33. Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
34. Friends and Lovers - Gloria Loring & Carl Anderson
35. Burning Heart - Survivor
36. Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins
37. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) - Glass Tiger
38. When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going - Billy Ocean
39. Manic Monday - The Bangles
40. I Didn't Mean To Turn You On - Robert Palmer

Popular Movies

(according to boxofficemojo)
1. Top Gun
2. Crocodile Dundee
3. Platoon
4. The Karate Kid Part II
5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
6. Back To School
7. Aliens
8. The Golden Child
9. Ruthless People
10. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Aliens, An American Tail, Back To School, Big Trouble in Little China, Blue Velvet, Cobra, The Color of Money, Crocodile Dundee, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Fly, The Golden Child, Heartbreak Ridge, Highlander, Howard the Duck, The Karate Kid Part II, Labyrinth, Legal Eagles, Little Shop of Horrors, The Money Pit, Peggy Sue Got Married, Platoon, Police Academy 3: Back in Training, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Pretty in Pink, Real Genious, Ruthless People, Short Circuit, Space Camp, Stand By Me, Top Gun, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Short Circuit, The Three Amigos

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1986
# 1 Hits of 1986
Pop Culture News

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