On This Day

What Happened in January 1981

Historical Events

  • Jan 1 Greece is 10th country to join European Economic Community
  • Jan 1 International Year for the Disabled begins
  • Jan 1 Palau (Trust Territory of Pacific Is) becomes self-governing
  • Jan 1 Roger Smith becomes CEO of General Motors
  • Jan 1 67th Rose Bowl: #5 Michigan beats #16 Washington, 23-6
  • Jan 1 47th Sugar Bowl: #1 Georgia beats #7 Notre Dame, 17-10
  • Jan 1 47th Orange Bowl: #4 Oklahoma beats #2 Florida State, 18-17

Historic Publication

Jan 1 Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa publishes his historical novel "The War of the End of the World"

  • Jan 3 NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers retire jersey # 34, Austin Carr
  • Jan 3 Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell scores a masterly 204 v India in the 1st Test in Sydney; home side wins by an innings and 4 runs

Australian Open Women's Tennis

Jan 3 Australian Open Women's Tennis: Czech teenager Hana Mandlíková wins her 1st of 4 career Grand Slam singles titles; beats home favourite Wendy Turnbull 6-0, 7-5

Sports History

Jan 3 American golfer Johnny Miller wins the sport's first $1 million tournament when he beats Seve Ballesteros of Spain in a playoff in the inaugural Million Dollar World Challenge at Sun City, South Africa

  • Jan 4 "Frankenstein" opens & closes on Broadway
  • Jan 4 Musical "Peter Pan", starring Sandy Duncan, closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 578 performances
  • Jan 4 British police arrest Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper"
  • Jan 4 "Red Right 88", trailing 14–12 Clevelands Browns attempt an end zone pass play (Red Right 88) and a game-winning field goal in the final minute, but pass intercepted by Raiders safety Mike Davis and Oakland wins
  • Jan 4 Australian Open Men's Tennis: American Brian Teacher wins his first and only Grand Slam event; beats home favourite Kim Warwick 7-5, 7-6, 6-3
  • Jan 5 "Nightline" with Ted Koppel extended from 20 mins to 30 mins
  • Jan 5 Peter Sutcliffe, a truck driver confesses that he is the "Yorkshire Ripper" and murdered 13 women
  • Jan 6 50th hat trick in Islander history-John Tonelli scored 5 goals

Music History

Jan 8 Joseph Papp's revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "The Pirates of Penzance", starring Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, and Kevin Kline, opens at the Uris Theater, NYC; runs for 772 performances and wins a Tony Award

  • Jan 8 India all out 63 in one-day international v Australia
  • Jan 8 MLB Cincinnati Reds become last team to sign a free agent (Larry Biitner)

Historic Event

Jan 8 Isabel Allende begins a letter to her dying grandfather that will become her first novel "The House of the Spirits"

  • Jan 9 Francisco Balsamao elected President of Portugal
  • Jan 10 El Salvador guerrilla group FMLN opens "general offensive"
  • Jan 10 John Severin sets 100-mi unicycle speed record, 9 h 21 m
  • Jan 11 "Tintypes" closes at John Golden Theater NYC after 93 performances
  • Jan 11 Palau adopts constitution
  • Jan 11 British team led by Ranulph Fiennes completes longest & fastest crossing of Antarctica, reaching Scott base after 75 days (2,500 miles)
  • Jan 11 AFC Championship, Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego: Oakland Raiders beat San Diego Chargers, 34-27
  • Jan 11 NFC Championship, Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Eagles beat Dallas Cowboys, 20-7

Television Premiere

Jan 12 Soap opera "Dynasty" produced by Aaron Spelling and starring John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins premieres on ABC-TV

  • Jan 12 -35°F (-37°C), Chester, Massachusetts (state record)
  • Jan 13 Barbara Sonntag, Colo, crochets record 147 stitches/min for 1/2 hour
  • Jan 13 Bollingen Prize for poetry awarded to May Swenson and Howard Nemerov

NHL Record

Jan 13 Islander's Mike Bossy's 15th career hat trick-4 goals

  • Jan 14 US Federal Communications Commission frees stations to air as many commercials an hour as they wish
  • Jan 15 Police drama "Hill Street Blues" premieres on NBC-TV
  • Jan 15 Pitcher Bob Gibson is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility; after a stellar 17 year career, polls 337 votes from Baseball Writers Association of America

Historic Event

Jan 15 Pope John Paul II receives Lech Wałęsa and Solidarity delegation at the Vatican

Sports History

Jan 16 Boxer Leon Spinks is mugged, his assailants even take his gold teeth

Music Single

Jan 16 John Lennon's single "Woman" is posthumously released in the UK

  • Jan 16 Protestant gunmen shoot & wound Bernadette Devlin McAliskey & husband

Historic Event

Jan 17 President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos ends martial law

  • Jan 18 Iran accepts US offer of $7.9 billion in frozen assets
  • Jan 18 Punk singer Wendy O. Williams arrested in Milwaukee for on-stage obscenity (later cleared)
  • Jan 18 Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield become the first two people to BASE jump from objects in all four categories (buildings, cliffs, bridges, antennae) after parachuting off a Houston skyscraper

Sports History

Jan 18 Swedish tennis star Björn Borg claims his second straight ATP Masters Grand Prix title with a 6–4, 6–2, 6–2 win over Ivan Lendl at Madison Square Garden, NYC

Sports History

Jan 19 Muhammad Ali talks a despondent 21 year old out of committing suicide

  • Jan 19 US & Iran sign agreement to release 52 American hostages
  • Jan 19 Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) led by Bernie Ecclestone, the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile led by Jean Marie Balestre and the Formula One teams agree to the First Concorde Agreement granting FOCA the right to televise Formula One races and requiring all teams to compete in every race under fixed rules
  • Jan 20 Adm Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret), ends term as 12th director of CIA
  • Jan 20 Frank C. Carlucci, ends his term as deputy director of CIA
  • Jan 20 Islander Glenn Resch's 25th & last shut-out opponent-Flames 5-0

President Inaugurated

Jan 20 Ronald Reagan inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States of America

Iran Hostage Crisis

Jan 20 The US diplomats and citizens held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran are released and begin their journey home after 444 days

  • Jan 21 "Shakespeare's Cabaret" opens at Bijou Theater New York City for 54 performances
  • Jan 21 Bernhard Goetz is assaulted for 1st time on a New York City subway train
  • Jan 21 Norman Stronge and his son James (both former Ulster Unionist Members of Parliament) are assassinated by the Irish Republican Army at their home Tynan Abbey, which is then burnt down
  • Jan 22 40th Islander shut-out opponent-3-0 vs Red Wings-Billy Smith 15th
  • Jan 22 O A "Bum" Phillips becomes head coach of New Orleans Saints
  • Jan 23 1st Richard Nixon museum opens in San Clemente California
  • Jan 23 Jochem Bird elected mayor of West Berlin
  • Jan 23 Mike Bossy becomes 1st in NHL to score 50 goals in 50 games
  • Jan 24 Islanders scored 5 power play goals against Nordiques

Sports History

Jan 24 Kim Hughes scores 213 v India at Adelaide

  • Jan 25 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived back in US

Historic Event

Jan 25 Mao's widow Jiang Qing sentenced to death

  • Jan 25 Super Bowl XV, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA: Oakland Raiders beat Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10; MVP: Jim Plunkett, Oakland, QB
  • Jan 26 Sandeep Patil scores memorable 174 v Australia at Adelaide Oval
  • Jan 28 Revival of Brt Kalmar and Harry Ruby's musical "The Five5 O'Clock Girl" opens at Helen Hayes Theater, NYC; runs for 12 performances

Historic Event

Jan 28 William J. Casey becomes 13th director of CIA (until 1987)

  • Jan 28 Olympic Glory tanker at Galveston Bay, Texas, spills 1 million gallons of oil in a ship collision
  • Jan 29 AL approves sale of White Sox to Jerry Reinsdorf & Eddie Einhorn for $20 million, & 80% of Mariners to George Argyros for $104 million
  • Jan 31 "The Tide Is High" by Blondie hits #1
  • Jan 31 Gaetan Boucher skates world record 1000m (1:13.39)

Famous Birthdays

  • Jan 1 Zsolt Baumgartner, Hungarian auto racer (German Formula Renault C'ship 1999), born in Debrecen, Hungary
  • Jan 1 Jonas Armstrong, Irish-born British actor (Robin Hood), born in Dublin, Ireland
  • Jan 1 Eden Riegel, American actress (All My Children), born in Washington, D.C.
  • Jan 1 Naughty Boy [Shahid Khan], British DJ, record producer, songwriter and musician ("La La La"), born in Watford, England
  • Jan 2 Pedrie Wannenburg, South African rugby union flanker (20 Tests; Bulls, Ulster, Castres, Oyonnax), born in Nelspruit, South Africa (d. 2022)
  • Jan 2 Maxi Rodríguez, soccer midfielder (57 caps; Atlético Madrid, Newell's Old Boys), born in Rosario, Argentina

Eli Manning

Jan 3 Eli Manning, American NFL quarterback (MVP Super Bowls 2007, 11; Pro Bowl 2008, 11, 12, 15; NY Giants), born in New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Jan 3 Chris Blais, American off-road racing rider (Motorcycle San Felipe 250 2005; Dakar Rally 2007 3rd overall), born in Apple Valley, California
  • Jan 4 Alicia Garza, American writer and civil rights activist (co-founded #BlackLivesMatter), born in Oakland, California
  • Jan 5 Corey Flynn, New Zealand rugby union hooker (15 caps; Canterbury Crusaders), born in Invercargill, New Zealand
  • Jan 5 Brooklyn Sudano, American actress, born in Los Angeles, California
  • Jan 6 Mike Jones, American rapper, born in Houston, Texas
  • Jan 6 Rinko Kikuchi, Japanese actress, born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
  • Jan 6 Jérémie Renier, Belgian actor, born in Brussels, Belgium
  • Jan 6 Asante Samuel, National Football League Defensive Back, born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Jan 7 Alex Auld, Canadian ice hockey player, born in Cold Lake, Canada
  • Jan 7 Marquis Daniels, American basketball player, born in Jasper, Florida
  • Jan 8 Jeff Francis, Canadian baseball player, born in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Jan 8 Xie Xingfang, Chinese badminton player, born in Guangzhou, China
  • Jan 9 Euzebiusz Smolarek, Polish footballer, born in Łódź, Poland
  • Jan 10 Brian Joo, Korean-American K-pop and R&B singer ("Fly to the Sky"), born in Absecon, New Jersey

Jared Kushner

Jan 10 Jared Kushner, American real estate developer and son-in-law and advisor to Donald Trump, born in Livingston, New Jersey

  • Jan 11 Jamelia Niela Davis, British singer, born in Birmingham, England
  • Jan 11 Tom Meighan, British singer (Kasabian), born in Leicester, United Kingdom
  • Jan 12 Dan Klecko, American football player, born in Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Jan 13 Reggie Brown, American football player
  • Jan 13 Shad Gaspard, American professional wrestler, bodyguard, and actor, born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2020)
  • Jan 13 Jason James, Welsh heavy metal bassist (Bullet for My Valentine, 2003-15)
  • Jan 13 Darrell Rasner, American baseball player
  • Jan 14 Abdelmalek Cherrad, Algerian football, born in La Tronche, France
  • Jan 14 Rosa López, Spanish pop singer, born in Láchar, Spain
  • Jan 14 Adar Poonawalla, Indian vaccine manufacturer (CEO of Serum Institute of India)
  • Jan 15 Pitbull [Armando Christian Perez], American rapper, born in Miami, Florida
  • Jan 15 El Hadji Diouf, Senegalese footballer, born in Dakar, Senegal
  • Jan 15 Sean Lamont, Scottish rugby union footballer, born in Perth, United Kingdom
  • Jan 15 Howie Day, American singer, born in Bangor, Maine
  • Jan 16 Nick Valensi, American rock guitarist (The Strokes), born in New York City
  • Jan 16 Bobby Zamora, English footballer, born in Barking, United Kingdom
  • Jan 17 Ray J [William Ray Norwood Jr.], American singer and actor (Everything You Want), born in McComb, Mississippi
  • Jan 17 Warren Feeney, Northern Irish footballer, born in Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Jan 17 Scott Mechlowicz, American actor, born in New York
  • Jan 18 Khari Stephenson, Jamaican footballer, born in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Jan 18 Kang Dong-won, South Korean model & actor, born in Busan, South Korea
  • Jan 18 Olivier Rochus, Belgian tennis player, born in Namur, Belgium
  • Jan 19 Asier Del Horno, Spanish footballer, born in Barakaldo, Spain
  • Jan 19 Lucho González, Argentine footballer, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Jan 19 Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch, American actress (Grimm; Superman & Lois), born in San Diego, California
  • Jan 20 Freddy Guzmán, Dominican baseball player, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Jan 20 Owen Hargreaves, English football player & television pundit, born in Calgary, Canada
  • Jan 20 Crystal Lowe, Canadian actress & model, born in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Jan 21 Ivan Ergić, Serbian footballer
  • Jan 21 Gillian Chung Yan-tung, Hong Kong singer (Twins)
  • Jan 21 Jamie Dalrymple, English cricketer
  • Jan 21 Dany Heatley, Canadian ice hockey player
  • Jan 21 Andy Lee, Korean singer (Shinhwa)
  • Jan 21 Izabella Miko, Polish-born actress and model
  • Jan 22 Ibrahima Sonko, French footballer, born in Bignona, Senegal
  • Jan 22 Willa Ford [Amanda Lee Williford], American pop singer, and actress, born in Ruskin, Florida
  • Jan 22 Beverley Mitchell, American actress, born in Arcadia, California
  • Jan 23 Rob Friend, Canadian football player, born in Rosetown, Canada
  • Jan 23 Greg Smith, American UFC fighter, born in Vallejo, California
  • Jan 24 Travis Hanson, American baseball player, born in Seattle, Washington
  • Jan 25 Toše Proeski, Macedonian pop-rock singer, born in Prilep, Macedonia (d. 2007)
  • Jan 25 Francis Jeffers, English footballer, born in Liverpool, United Kingdom

Alicia Keys

Jan 25 Alicia Keys [Cook], American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, and pianist ("Girl On Fire"; 'No One"), born in NYC, New York

  • Jan 26 Gustavo Dudamel, Venezuelan Spanish conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic), born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela
  • Jan 27 Alicia Molik, Australian tennis player

Elijah Wood

Jan 28 Elijah Wood, American actor (The Good Son, The Lord of the Rings), born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

  • Jan 28 Rick Razzano, American football player
  • Jan 29 Jonny Lang, American blues musician, born in Fargo, North Dakota
  • Jan 29 Álex Ubago, Spanish-Basque pop-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist (¿Qué pides tú?), born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, Spain
  • Jan 29 Darío Lopilato, Argentine actor, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Jan 30 Dimitar Berbatov, Bulgarian footballer, born in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
  • Jan 30 Mathias Lauda, Austrian racing driver, born in Salzburg, Austria
  • Jan 30 Peter Crouch, English footballer, born in Macclesfield, United Kingdom
  • Jan 30 Josh Kelley, American pop and country singer songwriter ("Amazing"; "Georgia Clay"), born in Augusta, Georgia
  • Jan 31 Sergio D. Acosta, American Chicano Filmmaker, born in San Jose, California
  • Jan 31 Julio Arca, Argentinian football player, born in Quilmes, Argentina

Justin Timberlake

Jan 31 Justin Timberlake, American singer-songwriter ("Can't Stop The Feeling!"; "Sexyback"), and actor (Friends With Benefits), born in Memphis, Tennessee


Famous Weddings

Davy Jones

Jan 24 British Monkees singer Davy Jones (35) weds Anita Pollinger; divorce in 1996

Bill Murray

Jan 25 Actor Bill Murray (30) weds Margaret Kelly on Super Bowl Sunday in Las Vegas; divorce in 1994


Famous Divorces

James Brown

Jan 10 Singer James Brown (47) divorces Deidre Jenkins after 10 years of marriage

Famous Deaths

  • Jan 1 Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Australian concert pianist, dies at 60
  • Jan 1 Ceferino Garcia, Filipino boxer (World Middleweight champion 1939-40), dies at 74
  • Jan 1 Mauri Rose, American auto racer (Indianapolis 500 1941, 47, 48), dies at 74
  • Jan 2 David Lynch, American singer (Platters - "Twilight Time"; "Only You"; "The Great Pretender"), dies of cancer at 51
  • Jan 3 Princess Alice of Albany (b. 1883)
  • Jan 4 Ruth Lowe, Canadian pianist and composer ("I''ll Never Smile Again"), dies at 66
  • Jan 5 Harold Urey, American physical chemist (Deuterium, Nobel 1934), dies at 87
  • Jan 5 Paul Félix, Flemish architect (Song of the Sun), dies at 67
  • Jan 5 Lanza del Vasto, Italian philosopher (b. 1901)
  • Jan 5 Guy Paquinet, French jazz trombonist, and bandleader, dies at 77
  • Jan 6 A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer (Citadel, Shining Victory), dies at 84
  • Jan 7 Jose Ardevol, Cuban composer, dies at 69
  • Jan 7 Alvar Lidell, UK radio broadcaster (b. 1908)
  • Jan 7 Eric Robinson, Australian politician (b. 1926)
  • Jan 8 Matthew Beard, American actor (Our Gang shorts - "Stymie"). dies of pneumonia after a stroke and fall, at 56
  • Jan 8 Woody Chamblis, American actor (Mr Lathrop-Gunsmoke), dies at 66
  • Jan 9 Kazimierz Serocki, Polish composer and co-founder of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, dies at 58
  • Jan 10 Richard Boone, American actor (The Richard Boone Show, Have Gun Will Travel), dies of throat cancer at 63
  • Jan 10 Fawn M. Brodie, American historian (b. 1915)
  • Jan 11 Beulah Bondi, American actress (It's a Wonderful Life), dies at 88
  • Jan 12 Isobel Elsom, actress (Unseen, Jane Eyre, Illegal), dies at 87
  • Jan 13 Emiel van Hemeldonck, Belgian writer (Mary, My Child), dies at 83
  • Jan 14 John O'Grady, Australian writer (Nino Culotta) (b. 1907)
  • Jan 15 Emanuel Celler, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York), dies at 92
  • Jan 16 Bernard Lee, British actor (M in James Bond movies, Fallen Idol, Dr No), dies at 73
  • Jan 17 Loukas Panourgias, Greek footballer (b. 1899)
  • Jan 21 Allyn Joslyn, American actor (They Won't Forget; Cafe Society), dies at 79
  • Jan 21 Norman Stronge, former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA alongside son James
  • Jan 21 James Stronge former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA, alongside his father Norman
  • Jan 22 Fannie Thomas, American who became the oldest known American at her death, dies at 113 years and 273 days
  • Jan 22 Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Pakistani historian and educationist, dies at 77
  • Jan 23 Bobby Sherwood, American orchestra leader (Milton Berle Show), dies at 66

Samuel Barber

Jan 23 Samuel Barber, American composer (School for Scandal), dies of cancer at 70

  • Jan 25 Richard Talmadge, actor (Speed Reporter), dies
  • Jan 25 Adele Astaire [Lady Charles Cavendish], American dancer and entertainer, sister of Fred Astaire (Last Man on Earth, Millie), dies at 82
  • Jan 27 Leo Collard, Belgian minister of Education (1946/54-58), dies at 78
  • Jan 29 (William Randolph) "Cozy" Cole, American jazz drummer ("Topsy I"; "Topsy II"), and educator, dies of cancer at 71