Events in Film & Television in 1981

  • Jan 5 Late night television news program "Nightline" with Ted Koppel extended from 20 mins to 30 mins

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

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 15 Police drama "Hill Street Blues" premieres on NBC-TV
  • Feb 6 "Brady Brides" debuts on NBC TV

Film Release

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

  • Feb 13 31st Berlin International Film Festival: "Hurry, Hurry!" wins the Golden Bear
  • Feb 21 Charles Rocket clearly says "f*ck" on "Saturday Night Live"

Film & TV History

Mar 6 Walter Cronkite signs off as anchorman of "CBS Evening News"

  • Mar 7 1st homicide at Disneyland, 18 year old is stabbed to death
  • Mar 9 Dan Rather becomes primary anchorman of CBS-TV News
  • Mar 30 "Chariots of Fire" directed by Hugh Hudson and starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson premieres at a Royal Command Film Performance (Best Picture 1982)
  • Mar 31 1st Golden Raspberry Awards: "Can't Stop the Music" wins
  • Mar 31 53rd Academy Awards: "Ordinary People", Robert De Niro & Sissy Spacek win

Film & TV History

Apr 1 CNN airs a videotape that shows that Tamara Rand predicted that Reagan is in danger from someone named Jack Humley (a hoax)

Music History

Apr 17 Carl Gottlieb's movie "Caveman", starring Ringo Starr, Shelley Long, Barbara Bach, Dennis Quaid, Jack Gilford, and John Matuszak premieres

  • Apr 20 Final performance of TV show "Soap" airs
  • Apr 28 "We’re Fighting Back" premieres on CBS in the US, based on the formation of the Guardian Angels
  • May 12 "Lena Horne: Lady, Music" opens at Nederlander, NYC: runs for 333 performances

Sports History

May 15 "Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" airs

Music Single

May 15 George Harrison releases single "All Those Years Ago" in UK: the song was a tribute to John Lennon, and featured Ringo Starr on drums, and Paul and Linda McCartney on backing vocals

  • May 15 SCTV Network 90, sequel to Second City Television, debuts on NBC

#1 in the Charts

May 16 "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes hits #1 for next 9 weeks

  • May 21 Kim Seelbrede, (Ohio), crowned 30th Miss USA
  • May 27 34th Cannes Film Festival: "Man of Iron" directed by Andrzej Wajda wins the Palme d'Or
  • May 30 "Nightline" extends from 4 nights to 5 nights a week (Friday)

Film & TV History

Jun 2 Barbara Walters famously asks Katharine Hepburn “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

Film Premiere

Jun 12 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (the first Indiana Jones film) directed by Stephen Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford premieres

Film & TV History

Jun 13 Tom Snyder interviews Charles Manson on "Tomorrow"

  • Jun 14 No Nukes concert at Hollywood Bowl
  • Jun 23 NYC Mayor Koch turns down a $7,500 offer to perform comedy

Film Premiere

Jun 24 "For Your Eyes Only", 12th James Bond, starring Roger Moore and 1st drected by John Glen premieres in London

Film Premiere

Jun 26 "Stripes", American military comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy premieres

Film Premiere

Jul 10 "Escape from New York" directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell and Donald Pleasence, premieres in the US

  • Jul 10 Walt Disney's "Fox & The Hound" released
  • Jul 20 Irene Sáez, of Venezuela, crowned 30th Miss Universe
  • Jul 23 14th San Diego Comic-Con International opens at El Cortez Hotel

Music Single

Aug 1 "Endless Love" single released by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (Billboard Song of the Year 1981, Billboard Greatest Song Duet of All-Time)

  • Aug 1 Music video cable channel MTV debuts in US at 12:01 AM with The Buggles song "Video Killed The Radio Star"
  • Aug 13 Last broadcast of "The Waltons" on CBS-TV

Telethon

Aug 18 Jerry Lewis appears on "Donahue" to defend Telethons

  • Sep 2 38th Venice Film Festival: "Die bleierne Zeit" directed by Margarethe von Trotta wins Golden Lion

Film & TV History

Sep 4 Newscaster David Brinkley is released by NBC

  • Sep 7 Jerry Lewis' 16th Muscular Dystrophy telethon raises $31,500,000
  • Sep 8 British TV comedy "Only Fools and Horses" created by John Sullivan, starring David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce premieres on BBC One

The Smurfs TV Debut

Sep 12 "The Smurfs" animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America

  • Sep 12 Elizabeth Ward (Arkansas), 20, crowned 54th Miss America 1982

Emmy Awards

Sep 13 33rd Emmy Awards: "Taxi", "Hill Street Blues"; Judd Hirsch and Isabel Sanford win

  • Sep 14 Entertainment Tonight premieres on TV
  • Sep 19 6th Toronto International Film Festival: "Chariots of Fire" directed by Hugh Hudson wins the People's Choice Award
  • Sep 27 Frank Lazarus and Dick Vosburgh's musical double feature "A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine" closes at Royale Theatre, NYC, after 588 performances and 2 Tony Awards

Music Single

Sep 28 “Physical” single released by Olivia Newton-John (Billboard Song of the Year 1982)

Album Release

Oct 27 Ringo Starr releases single "Wrack My Brain", written and produced by George Harrison, and album "Stop and Smell the Roses" in the US

  • Oct 31 1st live US radio drama in 25 years (Halloween Story on NBC)
  • Nov 12 Pilin Leon of Venezuela, crowned 31st Miss World
  • Nov 13 Ringo Starr releases single "Wrack My Brain", written and produced by George Harrison, in the UK

Theater Premiere

Nov 20 Charles Fuller's stage drama "A Soldier's Play", featuring Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson, opens at Theater Four, NYC; runs for 468 performances, wins Pulitzer Prize