1981 Fun Facts and Trivia

Updated on July 20, 2020
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This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and history events from the year 1984. Find out about popular TV shows, movies, music, books, ca

This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and history from the year 1981.
This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and history from the year 1981.

Interesting Facts From 1981

What are some fun facts, trivia, and history events from the year 1981?

  1. From July 1981 to November 1982, the U.S. economy experienced the most significant recession since the Great Depression.
  2. Ronald Reagan—the former movie actor and host of television’s Death Valley Days—was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States.
  3. The 52 U.S. citizens who were held hostage for 444 days in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran began their journey home.
  4. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “freed the nation's 8,900 radio stations from several major regulations, including specific maximum limits on commercials and minimum percentage requirements for news and public-affairs programming.”
  5. Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
  6. On August 3, about 13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job over better pay and working conditions. Two days later, President Reagan fired 11,345 of them.
  7. On June 12, MLB players began a 50-day strike that ended on July 31. During that time, a total of 713 games were lost.
  8. The FDA approved the artificial sweetener aspartame for tabletop use.
  9. The inflation rate was 10.32%, unemployment peaked at 8.5%, and the average 30-year mortgage rate was 16.63%.
  10. In 1981, white potatoes cost $1.25 for a ten-pound bag, bread was 59 cents for a 16-ounce loaf, and eggs were 95 cents a dozen. Kraft mayonnaise cost $1.39 for a 32-ounce jar, Pillsbury flour was 89 cents for a five-pound bag, and bananas were three pounds for $1.00.
  11. The Oakland Raiders were the Super Bowl champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series, and the New York Islanders clinched the Stanley Cup.
  12. Johnny Mize and Rube Foster were both inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  13. The New York Times published its longest sentence ever—1,286 words.
  14. Here is the big computer story of 1981: The first computer mouse “intended for use with a personal computer” was unveiled with the Xerox Star workstation.
  15. Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, Yukon Gold potatoes, Birds Eye potato waffles, and Jell-O Pudding Pops were all introduced into the marketplace.
  16. Popular music artists in 1981 included Barbra Streisand, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, George Benson, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, Prince, Sheena Easton, and Smokey Robinson.
  17. Paige Pipkin won the 54th National Spelling Bee by spelling the word “sarcophagus.”
  18. Ordinary People won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and Taxi (ABC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

  19. Popular soaps from the 1981-82 TV season were The Doctors, General Hospital, Another World, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, The Edge of Night, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, One Life to Live, All My Children, and Ryan’s Hope.
  20. In 1981, must-have back-to-school supplies included Casio wrist calculators, pencil cases, up-to-the-knee gym socks, manual pencil sharpeners, square metal lunch boxes, and Mead Composition notebooks.

Here are the five most popular TV shows from 1981-82:

  1. Dallas (CBS)

  2. 60 Minutes (CBS)

  3. The Jeffersons (CBS)

  4. Three's Company (ABC)

  5. Alice (CBS)

Here are ten food and beverage trends for the year:

  1. Chicken marsala

  2. Frozen yogurt

  3. Jell-O Pudding Pops

  4. Lean Cuisine frozen dinners

  5. Pasta primavera and pasta salad

  6. Pesto on everything

  7. Reese’s Pieces

  8. Seattle-style hot dogs

  9. Sloppy Joes

  10. Tab (a diet cola soft drink created and produced by the Coca-Cola Company)

Whether you’re a millennial, a 50-something, or a baby boomer, this article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and history from the year 1981. Find out about popular TV shows, movies, music, famous authors and novels, cool sports facts, and other interesting pop culture trends to get the right mix of questions and answers for your 1980s-themed trivia quiz.

Table of Contents

For easier reading, I have divided this article into the following categories:

  1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1981
  2. What Was the U.S. Economy Like in 1981?
  3. History Facts From the USA and World
  4. Sports Trivia
  5. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends
  6. Nobel Prize Winners
  7. Best-Selling Books
  8. Most Popular Television Shows From 1981-82
  9. Highest-Grossing Films
  10. Horror Movies From 1981
  11. Biggest Pop Music Artists
  12. Top 25 Songs for the Year
  13. Favorite Video Games
  14. Food and Beverage Trivia
  15. Weddings and Divorces
  16. Famous People Who Were Born in 1981
  17. Well-Known People Who Died
  18. The Fastest Accelerating Cars of the Year
  19. America’s Largest Corporations

 In 1981, the Ford Motor Company was one of America’s largest corporations.
In 1981, the Ford Motor Company was one of America’s largest corporations.

1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1981

These grocery facts have been made available courtesy of the Morris County Public Library in Whippany, NJ.

  1. Apple (red delicious): $1.19 for a three-pound bag

  2. Bacon: $1.29 for a one-pound package

  3. Bananas: Three pounds for $1.00

  4. Beef (sirloin filet): $1.86 per pound

  5. Bread: 59 cents a loaf

  6. Butter (Land O’Lakes): 99 cents for an eight-ounce package

  7. Chocolate syrup (Hershey’s): 69 cents for a 16-ounce can

  8. Coffee (Eight O’Clock): $1.49 for a one-pound bag

  9. Corn (Green Giant, canned): 89 cents for two 17-ounce cans

  10. Crackers (Keebler, Town House): $1.29 for a 16-ounce box

  11. Eggs: 95 cents a dozen

  12. Fish (flounder fillets): $1.66 apiece

  13. Flour (Pillsbury): 89 cents for a five-pound bag

  14. Ham (smoked): 89 cents a pound

  15. Honey (Orange Blossom): 99 cents for a 16-ounce jar

  16. Jelly (Kraft, grape): 99 cents for a 32-ounce jar

  17. Juice (Ocean Spray, assorted varieties): $1.69 for a 64-ounce bottle

  18. Lamb (leg): $1.49 per pound

  19. Ketchup (Heinz): 89 cents for a 24-ounce bottle

  20. Macaroni & cheese (Kraft): $1.00 for three 7.5-ounce boxes

  21. Margarine (Parkay): 39 cents for a one-pound package

  22. Mayonnaise (Kraft): $1.39 for a 32-ounce jar

  23. Onions (yellow): Four pounds for $1.00

  24. Oranges (California navel): Ten for $1.00

  25. Potatoes (white): $1.25 for a ten-pound bag

  26. Ravioli (Celentino, frozen): 89 cents for a nine-ounce package

  27. Soda (Pepsi): $1.39 for a two-liter bottle

  28. Tea (Lipton) $1.69 for a 100-count box

  29. TV dinner (Swanson, salisbury steak): 79 cents for an 11-ounce package

  30. Yogurt: 25 cents for an eight-ounce cup

2. What Was the U.S. Economy Like in 1981?

  1. From July 1981 to November 1982, the U.S. economy experienced the most significant recession since the Great Depression. FederalReserveHistory.org reports that “The economy officially entered a recession in the third quarter of 1981, as high interest rates put pressure on sectors of the economy reliant on borrowing, like manufacturing and construction. Unemployment grew from 7.4 percent at the start of the recession to nearly 10 percent a year later.”
  2. What caused the recession? Berkeley.edu explains that “One of the causes of the early 1980s recession was the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which sparked a second large round of oil price increases. More important, however, were Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker’s efforts to tame inflation through restrictive monetary policy, which had the expected effect of dampening economic growth. The American economy experienced a modest recovery beginning in the summer of 1980 but declined again from July 1981 to November 1982.”
  3. How was economic recovery later achieved? Berkeley.edu remarks that “A gradual loosening of monetary policy as well as the stimulative effects of tax cuts and defense spending increases promoted a sustained yet uneven recovery.”
  4. In December 1981, the unemployment rate was 8.5%. PewResearch.org tells us that “The unemployment rate hovered between 7% and 8% from the summer of 1980 to the fall of 1981, when it began to rise quickly.”
  5. GDP growth for the year was 2.5%.
  6. The inflation rate was 10.32%. In2013Dollars.com explains that “Purchasing power decreased by 10.32% in 1981 compared to 1980. On average, you would have to spend 10.32% more money in 1981 than in 1980 for the same item.”
  7. During 1981, “inflation in both retail and primary markets slowed to the lowest pace since 1977.” BLS.gov confirms that “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) moved up 8.9 percent, following increases of 13.3 and 12.4 percent in 1979 and 1980. All major categories of consumer spending, except medical care, registered smaller increases in 1981 than in the previous year.”
  8. A gallon of gas averaged $1.25.
  9. White potatoes cost $1.25 for a ten-pound bag, bread was 59 cents for a 16-ounce loaf, and eggs were 95 cents a dozen. Pepsi cost $1.39 for a two-liter bottle, Pillsbury flour was 89 cents for a five-pound bag, and three pounds of bananas were $1.00.
  10. A first-class stamp cost 18 cents.
  11. The average price for a new house was $78,200, and the median price for an existing home was $66,400.
  12. A new car cost $5,743, up from $5,413 the previous year.
  13. The average monthly rent was $315, up from $300 in 1980.
  14. The average annual income was $21,050, up from $19,500 the year before.
  15. The federal minimum wage was $3.35.
  16. The average 30-year mortgage rate was 16.63%. (For the week ending April 30, 2020, mortgage rates reached a historic low of 3.23%.)
  17. On January 2, the prime rate was 20.50%; by December 3, the rate had fallen to 15.75%.
  18. On the last day of trading for the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 875.
  19. At year end, the price of gold closed at $400 per troy ounce, a decrease of 32.76% over 1980.
  20. In 1981, the average credit card interest rate was 17.78%.

In 1981, Sloppy Joes were real crowd-pleasers.
In 1981, Sloppy Joes were real crowd-pleasers.

3. History Facts From the USA and World

  1. On January 1, Roger Smith became the CEO of General Motors, America’s third largest corporation.

  2. On January 1, Greece became the 10th country to join the European Economic Community.

  3. On January 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “freed the nation's 8,900 radio stations from several major regulations, including specific maximum limits on commercials and minimum percentage requirements for news and public-affairs programming.”

  4. On January 19, the United States and Iran signed an agreement to free 52 American hostages.

  5. On January 20, Ronald Reagan—the former movie actor and host of television’s Death Valley Days—was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States.

  6. On January 20, the 52 U.S. citizens who were held hostage for 444 days in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran began their journey home.

  7. On February 13, the New York Times published its longest sentence ever—1,286 words.

  8. On February 17, Chrysler reported that it had lost $1.71 billion for 1980, “eclipsing the record held briefly by the Ford Motor Company for the largest loss in American corporate history.”

  9. On February 24, the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer ended months of speculation by announcing that they were getting married. The BBC reports that Lord Maclean, the Lord Chancellor, made the following statement at the Palace: "It is with greatest pleasure that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kydd."

  10. On March 2, American astronomer Schelte J. Bus discovered the minor planet (5020) Asimov. (Isaac Asimov—author and scientist—“produced nearly 500 works of science fiction and nonfiction, covering topics ranging from mathematics and physics to Shakespeare and history.”)

  11. On March 22, the price of a first-class stamp increased from 15 cents to 18 cents.

  12. On March 30, President Reagan was shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C., “as he was returning to his limousine after a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Hinckley believed the attack would impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become obsessed.”

  13. On April 1, daylight savings time was introduced in the USSR.

  14. On April 27, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) “changed the way people interacted with machines forever by introducing the [computer] mouse as part of the 8010 Star Information System workstation. The small, hand-guided box with two clickable buttons finally made the computer personal, leading to a revolution in technology that continues to this day.”

  15. On May 13, Pope John Paul II was shot and wounded by a gunman in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City.

  16. On May 21, Francois Mitterrand became the president of France.

  17. On June 4, Paige Pipkin won the 54th National Spelling Bee by spelling the word “sarcophagus.”

  18. On June 5, the AIDS epidemic officially began when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that five homosexual men in Los Angeles were being treated for pneumocystis pneumonia.

  19. On July 3, New York City’s transit fare increased from 60 cents to 75 cents.

  20. On July 7, Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, “thus fulfilling his 1980 campaign promise to appoint the first woman to the highest court in the United States.” History.com confirms that “On September 21, the Senate unanimously approved her appointment to the nation’s highest court, and on September 25 she was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger.”

  21. On July 7, Solar Challenger, a solar-powered aircraft, successfully completed a 163-mile flight across the English Channel.

  22. On August 3, 13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO)—one of the few unions that endorsed Reagan during the election of 1980—walked off the job over better pay and working conditions. At a press conference that day, President Reagan stated: “They are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.”

  23. On August 5, when most PATCO workers had not returned to work, President Reagan fired 11,345 of them. MillerCenter.org explains that “The firing slowed commercial air travel for some time, but it didn't come to a grinding halt, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration's work-around. In the meantime, the FAA began the long process of hiring new controllers, taking years to reach pre-August 1981 staffing levels.”

  24. On August 7, the Washington Star—once regarded as one of the best afternoon newspapers in the U.S.—ceased publication and filed for bankruptcy after 128 years. At the bankruptcy sale, the Washington Post “purchased the land and buildings owned by the Star, including its printing presses.”

  25. On August 25, the Voyager 2 spacecraft came within 63,000 miles of Saturn. The following day, Voyager 2 took photos of Saturn's moon Titan.

  26. On September 14, The People’s Court—a reality court show that featured small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom—premiered on syndicated television.

  27. On September 21, Belize (British Honduras) gained its independence from the UK.

  28. On October 1, Salomon Brothers, the largest private investment bank in the US, was sold to the Phibro Corporation for $483 million.

  29. On October 8, President Reagan “greeted all three living former presidents in the White House: Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. They had agreed to represent him at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who had been assassinated in Cairo on October 6.”

  30. On October 22, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was decertified.

  31. On October 22, the FDA approved the artificial sweetener aspartame for tabletop use.

  32. On October 23, the U.S. national debt crossed the $1 trillion mark.

  33. On October 27, Andrew Young—an American politician, diplomat, activist, and former UN Ambassador—became the 55th Mayor of Atlanta.

  34. On December 7, Spain became a member of NATO.

  35. On December 31, unemployment in the Netherlands stood at a record 475,000.

In 1981, the New York Islanders were the Stanley Cup champs.
In 1981, the New York Islanders were the Stanley Cup champs.

4. Sports Trivia

Generally suitable for all age groups, sports questions are a welcome addition to any trivia quiz.

  1. Indianapolis 500: Bobby Unser wins for a third time.

  2. Kentucky Derby: Pleasant Colony

  3. NBA Champions: Boston Celtics

  4. NCAA Basketball Champions: Indiana

  5. NCAA Football Champs: Clemson

  6. Orange Bowl: Oklahoma over Florida State

  7. Rose Bowl: Michigan over Washington

  8. Stanley Cup Champs: New York Islanders

  9. Sugar Bowl: Georgia over Notre Dame

  10. Super Bowl XV Champions: Oa

  11. kland Raiders

  12. Tour de France: Bernard Hinault (France)

  13. U.S. Open Golf: David Graham

  14. U.S. Open Tennis (men/women): John McEnroe/Tracy Austin

  15. Wimbledon (men/women): John McEnroe/Chris Evert

  16. World Series Champions: Los Angeles DodgersOn January 3, American golfer Johnny Miller won golf’s first $1 million tournament when he beat Seve Ballesteros of Spain.

  17. On March 11, Johnny Mize and Rube Foster were both elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  18. On April 29, Phillie Steve Carlton became the first lefty to strike out 3,000 batters.

  19. On May 25, Carl Yastrzemski (Boston Red Sox) became the fourth MLB player to play 3,000 games. (Only Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, and Hank Aaron have played more games.)

  20. On June 12, baseball players began a 50-day strike that ended on July 31. During that time, a total of 713 games were lost. CallToThePen.com explains that “The reason behind the strike was free agent player compensation. The owners wanted a system in which they got a player of similar value for each they lost in free agency. The players felt that this system would void their newly acquired right to become free agents after their contracts expired. History shows that the owners did not get what they wanted and the battle was just beginning. It would come to a head in 1994 when that season was aborted.”

  21. On September 4, the longest MLB game at Fenway Park ended in 20 innings when the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-7.

  22. On September 21, Enterprise Radio, an all-sports radio network, went off the air.

  23. On September 30, the International Olympic Committee chose Seoul, South Korea as the host of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.

  24. On October 29, Bill Giles became the CEO of the Philadelphia Phillies.

  25. On November 12, Billy Martin (Oakland A’s) was named the American League’s Manager of the Year.

5. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends

  1. In 1981, popular baby names were Christopher, Jason, Matthew, Michael, Amanda, Jennifer, Jessica, and Sarah.
  2. The average life expectancy in the United States was 74.1 years.

  3. The violent crime rate in America was 58.6 per 100,000 residents. On the other hand, about 53 of every 100,000 Americans were victims of property crime.
  4. The cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was $275,000.
  5. Popular Halloween costumes included cabbage patch kids, Pac-man, Barbie, Superman, Star Wars, Michael Jackson, and the “Jason” Hockey Mask.
  6. Awesome candy items back then were Bazooka Gum, Good & Plenty, Necco Wafers, Sweet Tarts, Sugar Daddy, Clark Bars, Jijyfruits, Pixy Stix, PayDay candy bars, Razzles, and Chick-o-Sticks.
  7. Must-have back-to-school supplies included the Trapper Keeper, Casio wrist calculators, pencil cases, up-to-the-knee gym socks, manual pencil sharpeners, square metal lunch boxes, glue in a jar, and Mead Composition notebooks.
  8. Fashion trends in 1981 included high-waisted jeans, leg warmers, ripped denim, leotards, and punk leather items. Retrowaste.com adds that “Gold, copper, brass, and other metals appeared on blouses and skirts. Accessories such as handbags, shoes, and belts sparkled. Leather was also quite popular in 1981, with new processes making some leather as soft as silk.”
  9. Heartthrobs and fashion icons for the year included Kim Alexis, Loni Anderson, Kim Basinger, Jacqueline Bisset, Joan Collins, Bo Derek, Morgan Fairchild, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Lauren Hutton, Kathy Ireland, Jessica Lange, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Princess Diana, Victoria Principal, Tanya Roberts, Diana Ross, Brooke Shields, Jacquelyn Smith, Suzanne Somers, Donna Summer, and Heather Thomas.
  10. Susan Powell (Elk City, OK) won the Miss America crown.
  11. Kim Seelbrede (Ohio) became Miss USA.
  12. At the 53th Academy Awards, which honored the best films of 1980, Ordinary People won an Oscar for Best Picture, Robert Redford (Ordinary People) won an Oscar for Best Director, Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) won an Oscar for Best Actor, and Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner’s Daughter) won an Oscar for Best Actress.
  13. At the 33th Primetime Emmy Awards, Taxi (ABC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, and Hill Street Blues (NBC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Likewise, Judd Hirsch (Taxi) won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
  14. Lech Walesa—a Polish statesman and dissident who later became the President of Poland—was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”
  15. In 1981, Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, Yukon Gold potatoes, and Jell-O Pudding Pops were all introduced into the marketplace.
  16. Woman's World, Computer Gaming World Magazine, Shape, Health, and Elle all began publishing.
  17. Radicchio—a red variety of chicory—was first grown commercially in the United States in California.
  18. FoodReference.com remarks that “In Mountain Home, Idaho, Virginia Campbell took her coupons and rebates and bought $26,460 worth of groceries. She only paid 67 cents after all the discounts.”
  19. In 1981, the USDA announced that ketchup could now be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program.
  20. Hunt’s increased the number of tomatoes in its tomato sauce from 4 to 4 ½ to satisfy the consumer demand for a thicker sauce.
  21. Tide laundry detergent cost $1.69 for a 49-ounce jug, and a gallon of Purex bleach was 59 cents.
  22. Christmas gift wrap cost $1.99-$2.60 for a 50-foot roll, and a 6.5’ Scotch Pine artificial Christmas tree was $19.99-$31.85.
  23. Kleenex facial tissue was 69 cents for a 200-count box, and Scott toilet tissue cost $1.00 for three 1,000-sheet rolls.
  24. How much did a computer cost in 1981? ComputerHope.com tells us that “On August 12, 1981, IBM joined the computer race when it introduced the IBM 5150 PC. It featured the 4.77-MHz Intel 8088 CPU, and 16 kB base memory. Its retail price was $1,565.”
  25. In 1981, the average credit card interest rate was 17.78%, while the average rate in excess of inflation (“real” rate) was 7.43%. Nerdwallet.com explains that “in the late 1970s and early ’80s, nominal credit card interest rates were much higher than they are today, but because inflation was also high—in the double digits—real rates were actually much lower.”

If you grew up in the 1980s, the Mead Composition notebook was “the notebook of all notebooks.”
If you grew up in the 1980s, the Mead Composition notebook was “the notebook of all notebooks.”

6. Nobel Prize Winners

Beth Rowen tells us that winning a Nobel Prize is a life-changing honor. Whether the laureate is an internationally known figure (such as Mother Teresa) or a scientist from obscurity (like Richard R. Ernst), the award brings worldwide recognition that highlights one's life work and provides the funds to continue the mission.

This Nobel Prize information from 1981 has been made available courtesy of NobelPrize.com.

  1. Chemistry: Roald Hoffmann and Kenichi Fukui
  2. Economics: James Tobin
  3. Literature: Elias Canetti
  4. Peace: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  5. Physics: Kai Siegbahn, Leonard Schawlow, and Nicolaas Bloembergen
  6. Physiology or medicine: Roger Wolcott Sperry, Torsten Wiesel, and David H. Hubel

7. Best-Selling Books

This book trivia has been made available courtesy of Goodreads.com.

  1. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  2. An Indecent Obsession by Colleen McCullough
  3. The Covenant by James Michner
  4. Cujo by Stephen King
  5. The Glitter Dome by Joseph Wambaugh
  6. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
  7. Good bye, Janette by Harold Robbins
  8. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
  9. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
  10. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  11. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
  12. Lanark by Alasdair Gray
  13. Masquerade by Kit Williams
  14. Noble House by James Clavell
  15. Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
  16. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  17. The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
  18. No Time for Tears by Cynthia Freeman
  19. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymind Carver
  20. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner

8. Most Popular Television Shows From 1981-82

This TV trivia has been made available courtesy of 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)

During the 1981-82 television season, there were six Procter & Gamble (P&G) soap operas that aired on the major TV networks. They are Another World, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, Texas, and The Edge of Night. Please note that Texas only aired from 1980 to 1982, The Edge of Night went off the air in 1984, and only As the World Turns and Guiding Light lasted into the 21st century.

Other soaps from the 1981-82 TV season include The Doctors, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, One Life to Live, All My Children, and Ryan’s Hope.

During the 1981-82 television season, there were six Procter & Gamble (P&G) soap operas that aired on the major TV networks.
During the 1981-82 television season, there were six Procter & Gamble (P&G) soap operas that aired on the major TV networks.

9. Highest-Grossing Films

This movie trivia has been made available courtesy of m.The-Numbers.com.

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Superman II
  3. Nine to Five
  4. Stripes
  5. Arthur
  6. The Cannonball Run
  7. For Your Eyes Only
  8. The Fox and the Hound
  9. The Four Seasons
  10. Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams

10. Horror Movies From 1981

Horror films for the year included The Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London, Scanners, The Howling, Halloween II, Galaxy of Terror, Happy Birthday to Me, Friday the 13th Part 2, Hell Night, The Prowler, My Bloody Valentine, Student Bodies, Night School, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Madman, Burned at the Stake, Bloody Moon, Don't Go in the Woods, Graduation Day, Ghostkeeper, The House by the Cemetery, and Suddenly at Midnight.

11. Biggest Pop Music Artists

Popular music artists from the year 1981 include Air Supply, Barbra Streisand, Blondie, Chaka Khan, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Foreigner, George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., John Lennon, Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, Kool & the Gang, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, Prince, Rick Springfield, Sheena Easton, Smokey Robinson, Sugarhill Gang, and Teddy Pendergrass.

In 1981, Raiders if the Lost Ark was the highest-grossing film.
In 1981, Raiders if the Lost Ark was the highest-grossing film.

12. Top 25 Songs for the Year

This music trivia from 1981 has been made available courtesy of MusicOutfitters.com.

1. Bette Davis Eyes: Kim Carnes

2. Endless Love: Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

3. Lady: Kenny Rogers

4. (Just Like) Starting Over: John Lennon

5. Jessie's Girl: Rick Springfield

6. Celebration: Kool and The Gang

7. Kiss On My List: Daryl Hall and John Oates

8. I Love a Rainy Night: Eddie Rabbitt

9. 9 To 5: Dolly Parton

10. Keep On Loving You: REO Speedwagon

11. Theme from "Greatest American Hero" (Believe It or Not): Joey Scarbury

12. Morning Train (Nine to Five): Sheena Easton

13. Being With You: Smokey Robinson

14. Queen of Hearts: Juice Newton

15. Rapture: Blondie

16. A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do): Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

17. The Tide Is High: Blondie

18. Just the Two of Us: Grover Washington Jr.

19. Slow Hand: Pointer Sisters

20. I Love You: The Climax Blues Band

21. Woman: John Lennon

22. Sukiyaki: A Taste Of Honey

23. The Winner Takes It All: Abba

24. More Stars: Stars On 45

25. Angel of the Morning: Juice Newton

13. Favorite Video Games

Popular video games in 1981 were Donkey Kong, Defender, Galaga, Frogger, Scramble, Tempest, Stargate, Turbo, Bosconian, Gorf, Ms. Pac-Man, Castle, Wolfenstein, Qix, Space Dungeon, Caverns of Mars, Centipede, Fantasy, Eastern Front, Super Cobra, Vanguard, Treasure Island, Jump Big, Utopia, Raster Blaster, Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz, Venture, Lady Bug, Kaboom, Sky Skipper, Mouse Trap, Eliminator, Amidar, and Astrosmash.

14. Food and Beverage Trivia

Here are some foods and beverages that were popular in 1981:

  1. Cadbury’s Caramel

  2. Chicken marsala

  3. Four-bean salads

  4. Frozen yogurt

  5. Jell-O Pudding Pops

  6. Lean Cuisine frozen dinners

  7. McDonald’s Happy Meals

  8. Pasta primavera

  9. Pasta salad

  10. Pesto on everything

  11. Potato waffles

  12. Quiche

  13. Reese’s Pieces

  14. Seattle-style hot dogs

  15. Sloppy Joes

  16. Space Raiders

  17. Sun-dried tomatoes

  18. Sushi

  19. Totino’s Pizza Rolls

  20. Wine coolers

In 1981, Yukon Gold potatoes were introduced.
In 1981, Yukon Gold potatoes were introduced.

15. Weddings and Divorces

Weddings of interest:

  1. On January 24, singer Davy Jones married Anita Pollinger.

  2. On January 25—Super Bowl Sunday—actor Bill Murray wed Margaret Kelly.

  3. On April 9, NFL coach Bill Cowher married Kaye Young.

  4. On April 27, Beatle Ringo Starr wed actress Barbara Bach.

  5. On May 8, author John Grisham married Renee Jones.

  6. On May 16, Martin Chambers—a founding member and drummer with the rock band the Pretenders—tied the knot with Tracy Atkinson.

  7. On June 14, novelist Danielle Steel wed John Traina.

  8. On July 1, NFL quarterback Joe Montana married Cathleen Castillo.

  9. On July 29, Charles—Prince of Wales—wed Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

  10. On September 13, television producer Lorne Michaels married model Susan Forristal.

  11. On September 15, professional boxer George Foreman wed Sharon Goodson.

  12. On October 22, best-selling author Michael Crichton married broadcast journalist Suzanne Childs.

  13. On November 16, Luke and Laura tied the knot on the soap General Hospital in front of 16 million viewers.

  14. On November 26, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis wed actress Cicely Tyson.

  15. On December 23, astronaut Chris Hadfield married Helene Walter.

Divorce:

  • On January 10, singer James Brown divorced Deidre Jenkins after 10 years of marriage.

16. Famous People Who Were Born in 1981

  1. Alicia Keys: Pop singer

  2. Beyoncé: Pop singer and songwriter

  3. Britney Spears: Pop singer

  4. Chad Michael Murray: TV actor

  5. Colin O’Donoghue: TV actor

  6. Eli Manning: Football player

  7. Hayden Christensen: Movie actor

  8. Ivanka Trump: Businesswoman

  9. Jennifer Hudson: Pop singer

  10. Justin Timberlake: Pop singer

  11. Meghan Markle: Duchess

  12. Paris Hilton: Reality star

  13. Pitbull: Rapper

  14. Roger Federer: Tennis player

  15. Serena Williams: Tennis player

17. Well-Known People Who Died

  1. January 23: Samuel Barber (an American composer who wrote School for Scandal)

  2. February 1: Donald Wills Douglas (an American aviation pioneer and industrialist who founded the aerospace company McDonnell Douglas)

  3. February 6: Hugo Montenegro (an American composer who specialized in film music)

  4. February 9: Bill Haley (an American rock vocalist who was famous for his rock-and-roll song Rock Around the Clock)

  5. February 26: Howard Hanson (an American classical music composer and conductor)

  6. April 8: Omar Bradley (an American WWII general who was also the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

  7. April 12: Joe Louis (the U.S. heavyweight boxing champion from 1937-49)

  8. August 26: Roger Nash Baldwin (the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union)

  9. August 29: Lowell Thomas (an American newscaster and writer who wrote High Adventure)

  10. August 30: Vera-Ellen (an American actress and dancer who played in Big Leaguer and On the Town)

  11. September 8: Roy Wilkins (an American civil rights activist who was also the longtime executive director of the NAACP)

  12. October 2: Harry Golden (a Jewish-American journalist and writer who wrote Only in America and Travels Through Jewish America)

  13. October 7: Albert Cohen (a Greek-born Swiss novelist who wrote Belle du Seigneur)

  14. October 16: Moshe Dayan (Israel's Minister of Defense)

  15. October 30: Lew Jenkins (an American boxer who was the World Lightweight Champion from 1940-41)

  16. November 7: Will Durant (an American author and historian who wrote The Story of Philosophy and The Story of Civilization)

  17. November 12: William Holden (an American actor who played in The Blue Knight, Sunset Boulevard, Sabrina, and The Bridge on the River Kwai)

  18. November 25: Jack Albertson (an American actor who played in Chico and the Man, Willy Wonka, and the Chocolate Factory)

  19. November 29: Natalie Wood (an American actress who played in Gypsy, Rebel Without a Cause, and West Side Story)

  20. December 3: Walter Knott (an American farmer who created the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in California and who also introduced the boysenberry to America)

Here is the big computer story of 1981: The first computer mouse “intended for use with a personal computer” was unveiled.
Here is the big computer story of 1981: The first computer mouse “intended for use with a personal computer” was unveiled.

18. The Fastest Accelerating Cars of the Year

Here are the fastest accelerating cars of 1981, as tested by Consumer Guide. You will see that only a couple of American brands “muscled their way onto the list,” primarily because “both of them make use of low gearing, four-barrel carbs, and fairly modest curb weights.”

Consumer Guide’s blog tells us that not every automaker struggled with performance back in the early Eighties. “European brands, being early adopters of fuel injection and turbocharging, found themselves among the acceleration leaders of the era.” Credit must also be given to “the lighter weight of most German and Swedish cars” in comparison to their American counterparts.

Fastest accelerating cars:

  1. Chevrolet Corvette: 8.1 seconds

  2. Chevrolet Camaro Z28: 9.0 seconds

  3. Mazda RX-7: 9.2 seconds

  4. BMW 528i: 9.4 seconds

  5. Saab 900 Turbo: 9.7 seconds

  6. Porsche 924: 9.8 seconds

  7. Audi 5000 Turbo: 10.2 seconds

  8. Triumph TR8: 10.8 seconds

  9. Fiat X1/9: 10.9 seconds

  10. Buick Regal Sport Coupe: 11.0 seconds (tie)

  11. Volkswagen Jetta: 11.0 seconds (tie)

19. America’s Largest Corporations

These FORTUNE 500 facts have been made available courtesy of Money.CNN.com. Money.CNN tells us that “Since 1955, when the first FORTUNE 500 was created, more than 1,800 companies have appeared on the list. Many of these companies have changed names over this period, owing to mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies. Other companies have gone private, or simply changed their names.”

  1. Exxon Mobil

  2. Mobil

  3. General Motors

  4. Texaco

  5. ChevronTexaco

  6. Ford Motor Company

  7. Gulf Oil

  8. IBM

  9. Amoco

  10. General Electric

Here is the 1955 FORTUNE 500, the year in which the list was created:

  1. General Motors

  2. Exxon Mobil

  3. U.S. Steel

  4. General Electric

  5. Esmark

  6. Chrysler

  7. Atmour

  8. Gulf Oil

  9. Mobile

  10. DuPont

In 1981, The People’s Court—a reality court show that featured small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom—premiered on syndicated television.
In 1981, The People’s Court—a reality court show that featured small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom—premiered on syndicated television.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Gregory DeVictor

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Gregory DeVictor profile imageAUTHOR

    Gregory DeVictor 

    6 weeks ago from Pittsburgh, PA

    Liz, thank you for the comment. Yes, 1981 was really an action-packed year. I didn’t watch Dallas like many others did, probably because I was going through a period of not watching television at all.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    6 weeks ago from UK

    I was a Dallas watcher too! I read recently that the Iranians waited for President Reagan to be inaugurated before releasing the hostages. This is a great collection of facts. 39 years has passed too quickly.

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