On This Day

What Happened in February 1981

Historical Events

Music Premiere

Feb 1 Duke Ellington's musical "Sophisticated Ladies," premieres in NYC

  • Feb 1 Dutch Antilles census is 231,932
  • Feb 1 French government accord sends 60 Mirage fighter jets to Iraq
  • Feb 1 NFL Pro Bowl, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI: NFC beats AFC, 21-7; MVP: Eddie Murray, Detroit Lions, PK
  • Feb 1 Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell sensationally instructs younger brother Trevor to bowl underarm to Brian McKechnie with NZ needing 6 from last ball to tie 3rd World Series ODI in Melbourne; Australia wins by 6

NBA All-Star Game

Feb 1 31st NBA All-Star Game, Coliseum at Richfield, OH: East beats West, 123-120; MVP: Nate Archibald, Boston Celtics, PG

  • Feb 3 Australia beats NZ 3-1 to win cricket's World Series Cup
  • Feb 3 Gro Harlem Brundtland is elected as the first female Prime Minister of Norway
  • Feb 5 "Piaf" opens at Plymouth Theater NYC for 165 performances
  • Feb 5 Largest Jell-O made (9,246 gallons of watermelon-flavor) in Brisbane
  • Feb 5 Military jury in North Carolina convicts Robert Garwood of collaborating with the enemy during the Vietnam War

Hall of Fame

Feb 5 Joni Mitchell inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame

  • Feb 6 "Brady Brides" debuts on NBC TV
  • Feb 6 Suleiman Nyambui runs world record 5k indoor (13:20.4)

Film Release

Feb 6 Crime film "Fort Apache: The Bronx" starring Paul Newman released amid protests in the US

  • Feb 8 "5 O'Clock Girl" closes at Helen Hayes Theater NYC after 12 performances

Musical Finale

Feb 8 Revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical "Brigadoon" closes at Majestic Theater, NYC, after 133 performances

  • Feb 8 US female Figure Skating championship won by Elaine Zayak

Sports History

Feb 8 US male Figure Skating championship won by Scott Hamilton

  • Feb 10 33rd NHL All-Star Game, The Forum, Inglewood: Campbell Conference beats Wales Conference, 4-1; MVP: Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues, G
  • Feb 10 8 killed & 198 injured by fire at Las Vegas Hilton
  • Feb 10 Dennis Lillee becomes Australian Cricket's top wicket-taker with 249
  • Feb 11 Australia all out 83 v India at MCG chasing 143 to win
  • Feb 11 Polish premier Jozef Pinkowski replaced by Wojciech Jaruzelski
  • Feb 12 Admiral Bobby R Inman, USN, becomes deputy director of CIA
  • Feb 12 Arbitrator Goetz declares Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk a free agent
  • Feb 12 Cape Verde amends its constitution
  • Feb 12 Pete Squires sets record for 1575 steps of Empire State Building, 10m
  • Feb 13 Longest sentence published by "The New York Times" - 1286 words
  • Feb 13 A series of sewer explosions destroys more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Feb 13 31st Berlin International Film Festival: "Hurry, Hurry!" wins the Golden Bear
  • Feb 14 Stardust Disaster: A fire in a Dublin nightclub kills 48 people
  • Feb 15 Rocket-powered ice sled attains 399 kph, Lake George, New York

Daytona 500

Feb 15 23rd Daytona 500: Richard Petty wins record 7th title at Daytona, beating Bobby Allison to the line by 3.5 seconds

  • Feb 17 Chrysler Corporation reports largest corporate losses in US history

Sports History

Feb 18 20-year-old Edmonton center Wayne Gretzky becomes first player in NHL history to score 5 career hat-tricks before age 21; scores 5 goals and 2 assists in 9-2 Oilers' home win against St. Louis

Music History

Feb 19 George Harrison is ordered to pay ABKCO Music $587,000 for "subconscious plagiarism" of his song "My Sweet Lord" from Ronnie Mack's song "He's So Fine"

  • Feb 20 Flight readiness firing of Columbia's main engines; 20 seconds
  • Feb 20 James Sanford equals 50m indoor world record (5.61 sec)
  • Feb 20 Quebec's Czech rookie brothers Peter and Anton Stastny each score first career NHL hat-tricks in Nordiques' 9-3 win at Vancouver; Peter adds 3 assists and Anton 2
  • Feb 21 Charles Rocket clearly says "f*ck" on "Saturday Night Live"
  • Feb 21 Japan launches Hinotori satellite to study solar flares (580/640 k)
  • Feb 21 NASA launches Comstar D-4
  • Feb 23 People magazine features drug ordeal of Mackenzie & Papa John Phillips

Coup d'état

Feb 23 "Tejerazo" Spanish coup led by Civil Guard officer Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina fails after televised speech by King Juan Carlos I

Engagement of Interest

Feb 24 Britain's Prince Charles announces engagement to Lady Diana Spencer

  • Feb 24 Jean Harris is convicted of murdering Scarsdale diet doctor Tarnower
  • Feb 24 An earthquake registering 6.7 on the Richter scale hits Athens, killing 16 people and destroying buildings in several towns west of the city.

Grammy Awards

Feb 25 23rd Grammy Awards: "Sailing" - Christopher Cross; and Billy Joel win

  • Feb 25 Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo elected premier of Spain
  • Feb 25 NHL most penalized game; Bruins vs Northstars, 84 penalties (392 mins)
  • Feb 25 NY Islanders give up their most goals (11) vs Calgary Flames
  • Feb 25 Rita Jenrette (wife of Abscam congressman) appears on Donahue
  • Feb 25 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • Feb 25 Exec Board of Baseball Players' Association votes unanimously to strike on May 29 if the issue of free-agent compensation remains unresolved
  • Feb 26 3 Anglican missionaries detained in Iran since Aug 1980 are released
  • Feb 26 84 penalties (406 mins) assessed for a brawl between NHL Minn & Bost
  • Feb 26 French Train Grande Vitesse averages 380 kph on trial run
  • Feb 27 Greatest passenger load on a commercial airliner-610 on Boeing 747
  • Feb 27 Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder record the single "Ebony & Ivory"
  • Feb 28 Calvin Murphy (Hou), sets NBA record with 78 consecutive free throws
  • Feb 28 People's Republic of China throws out the Netherlands ambassador due to Dutch sales of submarines to Taiwan

Album Release

Feb 28 Columbia Records releases "Seven Year Ache", the third studio album by Rosanne Cash; it is her commercial break-through and goes to #1 on the country music chart


Famous Birthdays

  • Feb 1 Luis Lamá, Angolan soccer goalkeeper (56 caps; Petro Luanda), born in Luanda, Angola
  • Feb 1 Graeme Smith, South African cricket batsman, captain and broadcaster (117 Tests, 9,265 runs @ 48.25, 27 x 100s; 197 ODIs), born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Feb 1 Rob Austin, British auto racer (British GT Championship - GT4 runner-up 2008), born in Evesham, England
  • Feb 2 Jason Kapono, American basketball player
  • Feb 3 Maurice Ross, Scottish footballer
  • Feb 3 Alisa Reyes, American actress and singer
  • Feb 4 Tom Mastny, Indonesian baseball player, born in Bontang, Indonesia
  • Feb 4 Johan Van Summeren, Belgian cyclist, born in Lommel, Belgium
  • Feb 4 Ben Hendrickson, American baseball player, born in St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Feb 4 Jason Kapono, America professional basketball player, born in Long Beach, California
  • Feb 5 Loukas Vyntra, Greek football player, born in Město Albrechtice, Czechia
  • Feb 5 Nora Zehetner, American actress, born in El Paso, Texas
  • Feb 5 Mia Hansen-Løve, French film director and actress (Things to Come), born in Paris, France
  • Feb 6 Calum Best, American model, born in San Jose, California
  • Feb 6 Jens Lekman, Swedish musician, born in Angered, Sweden
  • Feb 6 Ty Warren, American football defensive lineman, born in Bryan, Texas
  • Feb 8 Tommy Michaels, American actor (Timmy Hutton-All My Children), born in Staten Island, New York
  • Feb 8 Myriam [Montemayor Cruz], Mexican Latin-pop singer, born in Monterrey, Mexico
  • Feb 9 Joël Camathias, Swiss racing driver
  • Feb 9 John Walker Lindh, American Taliban fighter
  • Feb 9 Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, American drummer and songwriter (Avenged Sevenfold) Huntington Beach, California (d.2009)
  • Feb 9 Tom Hiddleston, English actor and producer (Loki in Marvel films), born in London, England
  • Feb 9 Carmen Staaf, American jazz pianist, composer, and accordion player, born in Seattle, Washington
  • Feb 10 Holly Willoughby, British TV presenter, born in Brighton, United Kingdom
  • Feb 10 The Rev [James Owen Sullivan], American musician (Avenged Sevenfold), born in Huntington Beach, California
  • Feb 10 Natasha St-Pier, Canadian pop singer, born in Bathurst, New Brunswick
  • Feb 10 Andrew Johnson, English footballer, born in Bedford, United Kingdom
  • Feb 10 Uzo Aduba, Nigerian-American actress (Orange Is the New Black, Mrs. America), born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Feb 11 (Kelendria) "Kelly" Rowland, American pop and R&B singer (Destiny's Child - "Say My Name"), and television personality (The X Factor; The Voice Australia), born in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Feb 11 Scot Thompson, American soccer player, born in NYC, New York
  • Feb 13 Luisão [Ânderson Luís da Silva], Brazilian footballer, born in São Paulo, Brazil
  • Feb 13 Liam Miller, Irish soccer midfielder (21 caps; Sunderland, Hibernian), born in Cork, Republic of Ireland (d. 2018)
  • Feb 13 Luke Ridnour, US basketball player, born in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
  • Feb 15 Diego Martínez, Mexican footballer, born in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Feb 15 Matt Hoopes, American rock guitarist (Relient K), born in Canton, Ohio
  • Feb 15 Olivia Longott, American hip-hop and R&B singer (G-Unit), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Feb 15 Jenna Morasca, American actress, model, and reality TV contestant, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Feb 16 Jay Howard, British racing driver
  • Feb 16 Jerry Owens, American baseball player
  • Feb 17 Donielle Thompson, American gymnast (World-bronze-95, Olympics 1996), born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado
  • Feb 17 Lisa Skinner, Australian gymnast (Olympics 1996), born in Queensland, Australia

Paris Hilton

Feb 17 Paris Hilton, American actress and heiress (The Simple Life), born in NYC, New York

  • Feb 18 Andrei Kirilenko, Russian basketball player, born in Izhevsk, Russia
  • Feb 18 Ivan Sproule, Irish footballer, born in Castlederg, United Kingdom
  • Feb 18 Kim Jae Won, South Korean actor, born in Seoul, South Korea
  • Feb 18 Alex Rios, American baseball player, born in Coffee County, Alabama
  • Feb 18 Kamasi Washington, American jazz tenor saxophonist, born in Los Angeles, California
  • Feb 19 Ronnie Arniell, Canadian professional wrestler
  • Feb 19 (Mary) Beth Ditto [Patterson], American rock singer (The Gossip), and actress, born in Judsonia, Arkansas,
  • Feb 19 Gil Reyes, American boxer, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Feb 19 Nicky Shorey, English footballer, born in Romford, England
  • Feb 19 Vitas [Vitaly Grachev], Russian operatic-pop singer (Opera #2), born in Daugavpils, Latvian SSR (now Latvia)
  • Feb 20 Tony Hibbert, English footballer
  • Feb 20 Chris Thile, American folk and progressive bluegrass mandolin player, songwriter (Nickel Creek; Punch Brothers), and broadcaster (Live From Here), born in Oceanside, California
  • Feb 20 Adrián Lamo, American threat analyst and hacker (NYT, Yahoo!, Microsoft) who reported Chelsea Manning to the FBI, born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 2018)
  • Feb 22 Fredson Camara, Brazilian footballer, born in Monção, Brazil
  • Feb 23 Gareth Barry, English footballer (West Bromwich Albion F.C.), born in Hastings, United Kingdom
  • Feb 23 Charles Tillman, American football cornerback, born in Chicago, Illinois
  • Feb 23 Josh Gad, American stage (Book of Mormon), screen, and voice (Frozen - "Olaf") actor, born in Hollywood, Florida
  • Feb 24 Lleyton Hewitt, Australian tennis player (US Open 2001, Wimbledon 2002), born in Adelaide, Australia
  • Feb 24 Mohammad Sami, Pakistani cricketer
  • Feb 25 Park Ji-Sung, South Korean footballer
  • Feb 25 Misty Giles, American beauty queen and Survivor contestant
  • Feb 25 Jamie Lynn, American model
  • Feb 25 Shahid Kapoor, Indian actor (Ishq Vishk), born in New Delhi, India
  • Feb 25 Janicza Bravo, American filmmaker (Zola), born in New York City
  • Feb 26 Kertus Davis, American auto racer (competition director NASCAR team JD Motorsports), born in Gaffney, South Carolina
  • Feb 26 Johnathan Wendel, American professional video gamer, born in Kansas City, Kansas

Josh Groban

Feb 27 Josh Groban, American singer ("You Raise Me Up"), born in Los Angeles, California

  • Feb 27 Elodie Ouédraogo, Belgian athlete, born in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
  • Feb 28 Florent Serra, French tennis player, born in Bordeaux, France

Famous Deaths

Donald Wills Douglas

Feb 1 Donald Wills Douglas, American aircraft industrialist (McDonnell Douglas) & aviation pioneer (Douglas DC-3), dies at 88

  • Feb 1 Ernst Pepping, German composer, dies at 79
  • Feb 1 Nils Geirr Tveitt, Norwegian composer, dies at 72
  • Feb 1 Wanda Hendrix, American actress (Sierra, Ride the Pink Horse), dies at 52
  • Feb 2 Jan Donner, Dutch chairman of High Council, dies at 89
  • Feb 2 Louise Lorraine, actress (Adventures of Tarzan), dies
  • Feb 5 Barend Barendse, Dutch sports reporter and actor (Zeskamp, Oebele), dies at 73
  • Feb 5 Kuda Bux, Indian mystic (I'd Like to See), dies at 75
  • Feb 5 Ella Grasso, American politician, Governor of Connecticut (1975-80), dies at 61
  • Feb 6 Hugo Montenegro, American film music composer (b. 1925)
  • Feb 6 Frederica of Hanover, Queen Consort of Greece, dies at 63

Bill Haley

Feb 9 Bill Haley, American rock vocalist known as the father of Rock 'n' Roll (Rock Around the Clock), dies of a heart attack probably caused by alcoholism at 55

  • Feb 12 Jean Dixon, actress (Joy of Living, You Only Live Once), dies
  • Feb 13 Jack Crapp, English cricketer (7 Tests for England 1948-49, 319 runs), dies at 68
  • Feb 15 Mike Bloomfield, American musician (Electric Flag), dies of a drug overdose at 37
  • Feb 15 Thomas Beversdorf, American classical composer ("Of Walruses, Cheesecake, and Morse Code"), and educator (Indiana University, 1949-80) dies of asthma complications at 56
  • Feb 15 Karl Richter, German composer and conductor, dies at 54
  • Feb 18 John Knudsen Northrop, American aircraft designer (Northrop Air), dies at 85
  • Feb 19 Frank Merrick, English composer, dies at 94
  • Feb 26 FC Terborgh [Reijnier Flaes], Dutch lawyer and writer (Turkish War), dies at 79
  • Feb 26 Robert Aickman, English writer and conservationist (co-founding the Inland Waterways Association), dies at 66
  • Feb 27 Jacob H Gilbert, American politician (US Representative 1960-1971), dies at 60