RD80s Guest Appearance on Movie Podcast

The (Title Pending) Movie Podcast

Recently I had the opportunity to sit in as a guest host with Dan Fogarty aka "Fogs" for episode 11 of the Title Pending Movie Podcast. Regular host Chris Tanski aka "Tank" was on vacation and I was asked to fill in. A few months earlier, Fogs and I schemed about doing a movie music themed show about movie scores, themes, and soundtracks. With Tank out of town, he decided it would be a great time to have me on the podcast. I've been a fan of their show for awhile and have listened to them since the beginning. All three of us are part of the UnderScoopFIRE.Com family and have contributed to the site through columns or podcasts. 

The basic concept of the show was simple...the Movie/Music Relationship. We talk about the history of movie soundtracks, some of the top selling soundtracks of all time, and also our favorites. We also discuss what we call the "Finger In Throat Trifecta" of movie soundtrack songs that have tested our gag reflexes over the years. We do discuss some 80s greatness, but we did not confine ourselves to the decade. I hope you will enjoy listening and continue to listen to this awesome movie podcast in the future.

Follow Fogs on Twitter @FogsMovieReview
Follow Tank on Twitter @P0lishPhen0m

Check out Fogs' blog FogsMovieReviews.Com

The Best Superbowl Commercials of the '80s

The Best Superbowl Commercials of the 80s
The Superbowl has always been known for having some of the best and craziest commercials. Blue chip companies across the globe spend millions for a 30 second ad during the most widely watched sporting event. You are sure to always get a laugh or a "what in the world?" moment with these ads that try to create something you won't soon forget. I've been known to take my bathroom breaks during the actual football game, just so I won't miss any of the outrageous commercials! The 80s brought us both good and bad Superbowl ads. First, let's rediscover the some of the best ones and the stories behind them.

Coca-Cola "Hey Kid, Catch!" (1980)

In 1979, Coca-Cola filmed this ad as a part of their "Have a Coke and a Smile" ad campaign. It was actually released in Oct 1979, but became widely popular during the 1980 Superbowl. "Mean" Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers changes from a hard-nosed football player to a smiling teddy bear, thanks to a young fan and his bottle of Coke. We've seen the iconic ad replicated many times since 1980, when it won the Clio award for best ad of the year. Current Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu, former Steeler Jerome Bettis, and even House actor Hugh Laurie have all portrayed the "Mean" Joe Greene part in recent ads.

Apple "1984" (1984)

In 1984, the personal computer was on the verge of becoming a staple in US business and households in the US. Apple was eager to get in the game with its major competitor IBM, which held a firm grip on the market. In the ad, Apple portrays itself as a way to breakthrough the conformity of the technology industry. The Apple board of directors reportedly hated the ad when it was first shown to them, but Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak continued to support it. Of the 90 seconds booked for the 1984 Superbowl, Apple decided to resell 30 seconds to another advertiser and make the "1984" ad a 60 second spot. It won the Clio award in 1984 and was inducted into the Clio award Hall of Fame in 1995. The ad has not officially scheduled to air on network television since it was shown in Jan 1984. One other lesser know fact, movie director Ridley Scott was hired for $900,000 to direct the commercial.

Canned Foods Information Council "Brilliance" (1985)

During the 1985 Superbowl, the Canned Foods Information Council asked us the age old question of "What's for dinner?" in a whole new way. A sexy 3D robot was the centerpiece of the ad, with a female narrator explaining that canned food would still be used in the year 3000. The computer graphics used to create the robot were real breakthrough for a TV commercial. You can watch the behind the scenes documentary on Youtube about how Ketchum Advertising produced the commercial.

Diet Pepsi "Apt 10G" (1987)

The "Cola Wars" were in full effect during the mid 80s. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola hired famous actors and musicians to promote their products. Building from the success of its partnership with the film Back To The Future, Pepsi hired Michael J. Fox for a number of commercials in the mid 80s. During the 1987 Superbowl, Pepsi aired what would become a very popular ad featuring Fox and actress Gail OGrady. In the ad, Fox meets his new female neighbor who asks to borrow a Diet Pepsi. He scurries through his refrigerator to find he has none and decides to stealthily make a quick trip around the corner to obtain one.

Coca-Cola "Ninja" (1987) & "Train" (1988)

Talk about a precursor for things to come! In late 1986, Pierce Brosnan was offered the role of James Bond by producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. The resurgence of Brosnan's current TV show Remington Steele, prevented NBC from releasing him from his contract. Shortly after the role of James Bond was given to Timothy Dalton, Brosnan was hired by Coke to do a Bond-inspired ad for Diet Coke during the 1987 Superbowl. In the ad, ninjas crash Brosnan's dinner with a beautiful companion. The following year Coca-Cola & Brosnan took their Bond fun a little further. The railroad and train from the film Octopussy were used as the setting for Brosnan's next confrontation with the ninjas, as he thwarted their efforts and managed to enjoy another Diet Coke with a lovely woman.

Also check out my worst Superbowl ads of the '80s. Trust me, you'll want to see these horribly bad commercials at least one more time. Leave a comment with some of your favorite '80s Superbowl ads!


80s First: "I'm Going To Disney World!"

Hey, you've just won the Superbowl!! 
What are you gonna do next??


Those words were heard for the first time on Jan 25, 1987. The idea for the ad campaign came weeks earlier from the wife of Disney CEO Michael Eisner. According to his 1988 memoir, the phrase was spoken   by a dinner guest during the Start Tours grand opening in early January 1987. Jane Eisner later told her husband that the phrase would make a good advertising slogan. The rest is history as they say.

The stage was then set for the first commercial to air after Superbowl XXI. Disney approached quarterbacks Phil Simms of the New York Giants and John Elway of the Denver Broncos before the big game to prepare each to utter those now famous words.
So the big question is, what did Disney pay them? $75,000....each. Yes that's right, losing quarterback John Elway got paid the same amount as Simms just for being prepared. Disney would go on to make other arraignments with major sports champions in 1987 including Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and Frank Viola of World Series champion Minnesota Twins.
Since 1987, Disney has produced a "I'm Going To Disney World!" commercial for every Superbowl except one. The going price nowadays has dropped to a reported $30,000 per person, but the trend still continues. And the use of the phrase (and variations) in pop culture has been widespread including TV shows like the Full House and The Simpsons plus films such as Con Air, Balls of Fury, Zombieland, Aladdin, and my favoriteCharlie Sheen in Hot Shots.


Ultimate 80s Superbowl Kickoff Playlist

Are you ready for some football????!!!!

NFL football. Six long months of preseason games, a grueling regular season, a disappointing showing in your fantasy football league (if you're like me,) and then the conference playoffs. And then the game of all games...THE SUPERBOWL!! The drama builds for two weeks leading up to the big day. And then Superbowl day comes with countless hours of pregame coverage, Superbowl commercial specials and then finally....the starting lineups and the seemingly traditional slaughtering of our national anthem. It's here...moments away from kickoff. Snacks are huddled close-by with the anticipation of some great football, a concert halftime show, and those hilarious ads you simply can't miss. The teams are on the field, the kicker is setting up the football on the tee...TIME OUT!!...what song is playing over the p.a. system to get the thousands of fans on their feet?? Here is a playlist of 80s songs that are very worthy of a Superbowl kickoff!!

Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" (1981)
I dare say there is a better song to kickoff an NFL football game (or this list.) This is a great track that almost never made to an album. Recorded originally in 1975, it would stay vaulted for three album releases until Tattoo You in 1981. The Stones performed this song during the Superbowl XL halftime show in 2006. 

Football on Atari 2600
AC/DC "Hells Bells" (1980)
Hearing AC/DC at a football game is like eating a hot dog at a baseball game. I could make a case for about a half dozen tracks from the 1970s-1990s that are excellent kickoff songs. I've seen many a fan stand on their feet at the first chime of the bells at the beginning of this song.

AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" (1980)
Definitely worthy of a second appearance on this list, AC/DC gave us another song on the Back in Black album (the title track is good too) that is an awesome for a Superbowl kickoff. As with most songs on this list, a few chords of the iconic intro immediately gets the "walls shaking" and "earth quaking" in football stadiums everywhere.

Ozzy Osbourne "Crazy Train" (1980)
This track has perhaps that most recognizable intro of all time and is still used in stadiums for all major sports. So much so that just recently, Honda produced a minute and a half long TV ad with a Pilot full of kids singing the song.

Tecmobowl Football
Van Halen "Unchained" (1981)
The intro guitar riff provided by Eddie Van Halen + David Lee Roth scream = Kickoff Greatness. The lyrics to the chorus are a great fit too, as those coverage teams often play like a junk yard dog that's broken free from his chain.

Europe "Final Countdown" (1986)
An awesome way to countdown to kickoff or any sporting event for that matter. Even though it's one of only two hits for Europe, it has been used as the exclusive entrance music for the Detroit Pistons basketball team since the "Bad Boy" era.

Beastie Boys "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" (1986)
Yet another song with an iconic guitar riff intro. This song fits nicely for football because of the lyrics heard right after the intro..."KICK IT!!"

Joe Montana Football
Guns N Roses "Welcome To The Jungle" (1987)
In my book, probably second best to the aforementioned "Start Me Up." These kickoff songs are all about the intros and this one has one of the best! Slash lays down an excellent guitar riff with Axel Rose's signature scream.

Motley Crue "Kickstart My Heart" (1989)
The famous three chord intro that sounds like a motorcycle shifting gears, combined with the up-tempo track gives you a great start to any football game.


Misheard 80s Lyrics: "I Guess The Rain's..."

Okay, this one is on me. Up until probably sometime last year, I was singing the wrong lyrics to Toto's "Africa." Seems pretty funny now that I would misinterpret the lyrics as I guess the rain's down in AfricaIt's not like Africa is known for its torrential rain or its long spring seasons. I mean think about it. Can you picture two farmers during the middle of summer drought saying to each other: 
Where is all the rain, Joe? My crops are all gonna dry up! 
Not sure, Sam. I've heard its been over a month now since we've seen a drop. Matter of fact, the whole southern United States is in a drought. 
(Shrugging shoulders) Hmm, I guess the rain's down in Africa, Joe. 

I might come across as an 80s expert sometimes, but even I have taken advantage of "rediscovering the 80s"  from time to time. Seems to make much more sense now to sing...

I bless the rains down in Africa


80s Timeworn Twelves: "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)"

"I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" 
by Hall & Oates (1981)

Hall & Oates were a hit making machine throughout the 80s. By the time their Private Eyes album was released in 1981, they had already achieve two #1 singles and a few other top ten hits. The first two singles released, the title track and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" would both peak at the top spot on the charts. The latter would also top the R&B charts, which was a rarity for a non-African American group. The 12" single would feature a remixed version by Robert Wright that would add over 2 minutes to the album version. Side B was "Unguarded Minute," a Private Eyes album track.

Click below to hear the "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)12" remix

Thanks to Discogs.Com and Wikipedia for art and record info


Garbage Pail Kids Fan Art

Garbage Pail Kids Fan Art

It's no secret that I love artists who create their own originals using 80s pop culture. We've showcased some great ones on this site including last week's post of 80s Pixels Art and others like Christopher Tupa and Some One. Recently, through a tweet by Pepsi Throwback, I came across some original Garbage Pail Kids art. Most of you might remember the column I did called "The Rise and Fall of the Garbage Pail Kids" that was posted on this site and on UnderScoopFire.Com about the gross-out trading card franchise. GPK remains a big part of 80s pop culture and I thought it was a radical idea to mesh GPK art with 80s properties!

Luis Diaz
Thanks to a timely tweet by Pepsi Throwback (which I highly recommend you follow,) I came across these first GPK creations. A couple clicks later and I found Luis Diaz's Flickr page, which is full of great art. Here are a few examples:


Fire Flower Funnies: 8-Bit Creations

Last week I gathered some 80s pixel art that I found while surfing the net. While I was compiling, I found many artistic 8-bit versions of the Nintendo icon Mario. Most of these creations use real objects that piece together our favorite plumber of the 80s.

The first Mario creation is why you need variety when choose your favorite carbonated beverages. To make a good Mario, the worlds of Pepsi and Coke must come together.

The next two Mario creations at grocery stores would have my business for life. Store managers take note of these two works of art and encourage your employees to follow suit for your displays. Having been a stock clerk in my working career, I can attest that displays like these will give your employees a fun job and attract customers to just revel in 80s glory.

Find some old floppy disks in your company's storage closet? Well before you toss them out, think of this Mario creation and maybe you can create something to put in your front window for customers to talk about.

Starburst Mario! I have a feeling this creation might have happened during a long meeting or an over-excess of Halloween candy. Coming next week, Now-Or-Later Mario...

I'll admit, I got sucked into Farmville when it first became popular on Facebook. My farm is probably overgrown with weeds and a tornado has probably leveled all my buildings. But if you haven't got bored with it like I did, I'm hoping you are buying hay bales to create nostalgic crop patterns such as this one.

Got your own Mario ideas, but need a little help? Here's a short video on how to draw 8-bit Mario.


80s Exam: Name That Movie Line 4

Can you quote the movie line from these 80s movie scenes?
Leave a comment with your answers!





Mike Post & TV Themes We Grew Up With

Who is Mike Post? Does his name look a little familiar? Maybe you’ve seen it somewhere before…if you’ve owned a television set in the last 40 years, I guarantee you’ve seen it hundreds of times! Mike Post has produced some of the most recognizable theme songs in television history. The Rockford Files, Magnum P.I., The A Team, Law & Order, Quantum Leap, and NYPD Blue have all used theme songs produced by Mike Post. (And that’s just scratching the surface!!) What composer John Williams is to movies, Mike Post is to television. We’ve grown up with his music, maybe with some of us not even knowing all these great themes could be attributed back to one man. Who is Mike Post? If you know or perhaps think you know, I’m privileged to take you on the Mike Post backlot tour of television history.

Leland Michael Postil was born in Berkeley, California in 1944. The piano was his instrument of choice at the age of six. By the time he was in the tenth grade, he was playing football and then playing music at clubs after games. He reluctantly graduated Ulysses S. Grant High School in 1962 in Valley Glen, Ca, and kept music as the main focus of his life. (Ironically, his graduating class would include actor Tom Selleck, for whose TV show he would compose the theme for eighteen years later!) He would hit the road after high school, touring with the “live versions” of studio acts. With the long touring schedule and an unsuccessful attempt at being a musical artist himself, Post found himself working as a session musician for recording artists. Early artists he played for included Rat Pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. But playing guitar in a 1965 session for Sonny and Cher which included their biggest hit “I Got You Babe”, would give him a vision for arranging and producing music. He began offering to help produce records for his friends’ bands, just to get his feet wet. That experience then would help him form and produce a band called First Edition (which included Kenny Rogers on bass guitar) from 1967-69. He would produce a record for guitarist Mason Williams in 1968, which would earn him industry recognition. Williams’ instrumental hit “Classical Gas” would earn Post his first Grammy Award as a producer at just 23 years old. The very next year in response to his work with Williams, Post would be offered the position of musical director of the Andy Williams Show and begin his professional career in television. Through the show, he would arrange music for the best and most popular music artists on the planet.

2005 interview with Stephen J. Cannell & Mike Post
Post’s television theme production career can be attributed to two relationships. The first was with composer Pete Carpenter, who Post met on the golf course in 1968. Carpenter, an accomplished trumpeter and TV musical arranger, would form a working relationship with Post that would last 18 years and over 1800 hours of TV music. Writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell would be the second piece in Post’s career. A chance introduction to Cannell while on vacation would create another friendship that would transition Post from a “rock and roll” producer in his mind to conducting and writing for television dramas.

Rockford FilesPost and Carpenter’s first major collaboration on a television series would be for Toma in 1973, a recommendation from Cannell to creator Edward Hume. Their first real successful show would be the Rockford Files in 1974, of which Cannell was co-creator. With Post’s past connections in the music industry, the theme would be released as a single about a year later and was a top ten hit. It would remain on the charts for 16 weeks and earn Post his second Grammy award.

Magnum P.I. - At a charity event in 1975, Post would run into Henry Mancini, the long time music producer of tv show themes like Peter Gunn and Pink Panther. Mancini would tell Post two words of encouragement…”Your next.” Post would take those words to heart and work on 18 more shows from 1976-79. In 1980, Post and Carpenter would be asked by Cannell to produce music for Magnum, P.I. Post and Tom Selleck had been friends since grammar school, which made the music for the show “easy, because I knew him.” Post's theme was not actually the first used for the show. It was adapted after the pilot and first few episodes.

Hill Street Blues1981 was another marker in Post’s career. TV producer Steven Bochco, a friend of Cannell, would hire Post to write the theme for Hill Street Blues. Post watched the pilot for the show and received some direction as to the style of music Bochco was looking for. Thirty minutes later, Post had already stumbled into the theme. It was released as a single featuring Larry Carlton on guitar and was another top ten hit. It also earned Post two more Grammys.

Greatest American HeroAlso in 1981, Post would produce a #1 hit record. It would be one of only a few themes in the span of 18 years that he didn’t collaborate with Carpenter, who semi-retired for about 2 years for health reasons. Post would partner with writer Steven Geyer to create the theme for Greatest American Hero.  Geyer penned the lyrics with Joey Scarbary providing the vocals, a singer that Post had previously produced three albums for. “Believe It Or Not” would top the Record World Chart and peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The A-TeamCarpenter would rejoin Post in the studio in 1983 to produce another theme for Cannell, his new show entitled The A-Team. It would be another theme that would come real “easy” for Post, after reading Cannell’s script. Post has made it known several times that the theme is very close in rhythm to "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," a song from the 1946 Walt Disney film Song of the South.

L.A. LawPost would go back to work for Steven Bochco and producer/director Gregory Hoblit in 1986, who wanted a theme for their new show L.A. Law. After “hitting a homerun with the Hillstreet Blues theme,” Post struggled to get on the same page with Bochco to try to match the past success. It took Post five attempts to get a theme that everyone would agree upon. The 5th time was the charm as Post would win the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 1988.

Law & Order - Pete Carpenter would pass away in 1987, ending a very successful partnership and friendship. However, Post would continue to produce TV themes with the knowledge and experience gained from Carpenter. Post would get a phone call from former Hillstreet Blues writer Dick Wolf in 1988 about a pilot he was developing. Post agreed to produce the theme and both were very pleased with the outcome. Wolf would pitch the show to CBS and would get turned down for lack of “breakout stars.” In the summer of 1989, NBC saw and liked the pilot and ordered a full season of shows in 1990. That show was Law and Order which would last for 20 seasons. Post would also produced the famous “Ching Ching” sound effect between scenes.

NYPD Blue - In 1993, Steven Bochco and Gregory Hoblit would again give Post a script for a new show, also set in New York City. Over lunch, they would give Post two elements that they envisioned for the theme song…drums and sounds of the subway. Over the course of three weeks, Post pondered over the sounds and took inspiration from Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” to create the theme for N.Y.P.D. Blue.

Murder OneIn 1996, Post won his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music. The theme was for Steven Bochco’s show Murder One, which only lasted for two seasons on ABC. Bochco asked Post “have you ever thought of a piece of Bach chamber music with a huge contemporary bottom?” A couple days later and Post had the theme.

Post continues writes themes today including the 2011 documentary titled New York Says Thank You, the 2010 Corbin Bernsen film Rust, and the 2005 TV series Blind Justice. This was really a unique opportunity to write this article. Usually, I’m lucky to get 2 or 3 sources on a topic and then try to cipher them all into a column. This time I got to listen to the man himself. I wasn’t lucky enough to interview Mike personally, but found a 3 hour interview to get the facts firsthand. If you’d like to go deeper, I encourage you to listen to Post’s Archive of American Television interview from 2008. Also, the Stephen J. Cannell/Mike Post photo in this article links to a dual interview that was featured on the Silk Stalkings Season 2 DVD bonus features. As a parting shot, here are a few more Mike Post TV themes throughout the years.

Finally, a personal favorite that I wish would have lasted more than 2 short seasons. Mike Post reworked the original Dragnet theme for the 2003 series.

Several of Mike Post's compilation albums are available on Amazon as well as digital downloads of individual themes.


80s First: Platinum Rap Album

A rap group from Hollis, NY would make music industry history in 1986. Run D.M.C. released their 3rd album Raisin' Hell in May 1986. In just two short months, the album would be certified platinum (one million in sales) by the RIAA, the first time in history a rap/hip hop album would reach that level. It would signify that the rap genres was not a fad as some music critics had viewed. In Sept 1986,  Raisin' Hell would reach the 2X platinum level and then 3X platinum in March 1987. Building on the tremendous success of Raisin' Hell, Run D.M.C.'s previous album The King of Rock and their follow up album Tougher Than Leather would also reach the platinum level. Other firsts by Run D.M.C. include:
  • The first rap act to chart in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 more than once
  • The first rap artist with a Top 10 pop charting rap album
  • The first rap artist with gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums
  • The first rap act to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine
  • One of the first rap acts to receive a Grammy Award nomination
  • The first rap act to make a video appearance on MTV
  • The first rap act to perform at a major arena


80s Pixel Art

E.T. on ExciteBike
Children of the 80s all remember the pixelated characters of the Atari, NES, and Sega video game era. Graphics have come along way since square bullets and basketballs that existed in the 8-bit gaming world. But thanks to some inventive artists, pixel art is making a comeback using all kinds of 80s properties and pop culture.

Carl Jagt
Carl Jagt is the artist behind the following 8-bit movie posters. Here are his comments:
I still remember the 70s and 80s with wide-eyed, take-a-step-back wonder: high-tops, Sony Walkmans, feathered hair, home computers and The Boss. And the movies: arguably not a golden age of cinema, the 80s were the birthplace of many of my all-time favourite flicks. Here are a few 8bit pixel posters of some of my favourite 80s movies (ok, one of them is from the late 70s) – enjoy!

Carl also has some original portraits that available to purchase on ImageKind, including these pixelated sidearms of some famous Sci-Fi characters. See if you can recognize them...

Visit CarlJagt.Com for his portfolio


80s Timeworn Twelves: "Too Shy"

"Too Shy (Midnight Mix)" by Kajagoogoo (1982)

Kajagoogoo's "Too Shy" is widely known as a one hit wonder in the US, ranking 9th on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s. In 1983, the debut single reached #5 in the US and #1 in the UK for two weeks, benefiting from heavy airplay on MTV. EMI released a 12" Midnight Mix single, a remixed version adding almost 2 minutes compared to the White Feathers album version. The B side featured an unreleased track "Take Another View" which was often included in live sets. Kajagoogoo would reach the top 15 in the UK with their next three singles, but would have no further success in the US.

Click below to hear the 12" extended "Midnight Mix"of "Too Shy"

Thanks to Discogs.Com and Wikipedia for art and record info


African American History in the 80s

African American History in the 80s

As is appropriate on the 3rd month in February each year, we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his sacrifice for the equality of every person in America. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than taking a look back at the breakthrough accomplishments of African Americans in the 1980s. These people honored the sacrifice of the many before them by climbing to the top of their profession and proving that Dr King's vision was the right one for America.

  • Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the Naval Academy. 
  • Robert L. Johnson launches the Black Entertainment Television (BET) channel out of Washington, D.C.
  • Val James of the Buffalo Sabres becomes the first professional African American player in the NHL.
  • Bryant Gumbel becomes the anchor of The Today Show, the first African American to do hold the morning anchor post on a major television network.
  • Michael Jackson releases Thriller, which would become the best selling music album of all time.
  • Louis Gossett, Jr. becomes the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film An Officer and a Gentleman.
  • Roscoe Robinson Jr. becomes the first African American four star general in the United States Army.

  • Guion (Guy) S. Bluford becomes the first African American astronaut to travel in space as a crew member of the Challenger.
  • Nov 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signs the bill establishing Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a federal holiday.
  • Alice Walker's The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 
  • Vanessa Williams is crowned the first African American Miss America.
  • Carl Lewis wins four gold medals at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics tying a record set by Jesse Owens.
  • The Cosby Show begins it's eight season run on television, the most successful series in history featuring a predominantly African American cast.
  • Russell Simmons creates Def Jam Records in Harlem, N.Y.
  • John Thompson leads Georgetown University to the NCAA Division I national basketball championship, becoming the first African-American coach to do so.
  • Eddie Robinson, coach of Grambling State University, becomes the winningest coach in college football history.
  • Oprah Winfrey becomes the first African American woman to host a television show.
  • Spike Lee releases his first film She's Gotta Have It, launching a new wave of interest in African American films and filmmakers.
  • Mike Tyson becomes the youngest WBC boxing champion in history (20 years) by defeating Trevor Berbick.
  • Run DMC's "Walk This Way" becomes the first rap song to enter the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
  • The first African Americans to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, and Little Richard.
  • Entrepreneur Reginald Lewis, "the Jackie Robinson of deal-making," becomes the first African American CEO of a billion dollar corporation.
  • Fences, a play by August Wilson, wins a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award.
  • Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.
  • Debi Thomas wins a bronze medal for figure skating, the first to do so at any Winter Olympic games.
  • Doug Williams becomes the first African American quarterback to start and win the Superbowl.
  • L. Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected governor in the US. He would serve as Virginia's governor from 1990-1994 and also more recently serve as the mayor of Richmond.
  • Ronald H. Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the first African American to be the head of either major political party.
  • Art Shell becomes the head coach of the Oakland raiders, making him the first African American head football coach in the NFL's post WWII era.
  • Colin Powell becomes the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush administration.

This is a very brief list. Please feel free to comment with other achievements meaningful to you or with your memories of these events as they happened in the 80s.
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