On This Day

January 1981 in History

Events in History

  • 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 2 Mary Terstegge Meagher swims female record 200 m butterfly (2:05.65)
  • Jan 2 Sylvester Clarke knocks out spectator with brick, WI v Pakistan
  • Jan 3 Greg Chappell scores 204 v India at the SCG
  • Jan 3 Mary Terstegge Meagher swims female record 100m butterfly (58.91)
  • Jan 4 "Frankenstein" opens & closes on Broadway
  • 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 5 British police arrest Peter Sutcliffe, a truck driver later convicted of "Yorkshire Ripper" murders of 13 women
  • Jan 6 50th hat trick in Islander history-John Tonelli scored 5 goals
  • Jan 8 India all out 63 in one-day international v Australia
  • Jan 8 Reds become last team to sign a free agent (Larry Biitner)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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 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 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 & Howard Nemerov
  • Jan 14 US Federal Communications Commission frees stations to air as many commercials an hour as they wish

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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

Polish Politician and Labor Activist Lech Wałęsa
Polish Politician and Labor Activist
Lech Wałęsa
264th Pope John Paul II
264th Pope
John Paul II
  • Jan 16 Protestant gunmen shoot & wound Bernadette Devlin McAliskey & husband
  • Jan 17 Philippino president Marcos ends state of siege
  • Jan 18 Iran accepts US offer of $7.9 billion in frozen assets
  • 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
  • Jan 19 US & Iran sign agreement to release 52 American hostages
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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

US President & Actor Ronald Reagan
US President & Actor
Ronald Reagan

Battle of InterestIran 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
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Iranian students storm the walls of the US Embassy in Tehran
Iranian students storm the walls of the US Embassy in Tehran
  • 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 23 1st Richard Nixon museum opens in San Clemente California
  • Jan 23 Jochem Bird elected mayor of West Berlin
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jan 25 Mao's widow Jiang Qing sentenced to death

Chinese Communist & Wife of Mao Zedong Jiang Qing
Chinese Communist & Wife of Mao Zedong
Jiang Qing
  • Jan 26 Sandeep Patil scores memorable 174 v Australia at Adelaide Oval

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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

CIA Director William J. Casey
CIA Director
William J. Casey
  • Jan 28 Olympic Glory tanker at Galveston Bay, Texas, spills 1 million gallons of oil in a ship collision
  • Jan 31 Gaetan Boucher skates world record 1000m (1:13.39)

Birthdays in History


Person of interestJared Kushner

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

Son-in-law and Adviser to Donald Trump Jared Kushner
Son-in-law and Adviser to Donald Trump
Jared Kushner
  • Jan 14 Abdelmalek Cherrad, Algerian football, born in La Tronche, France
  • Jan 23 Greg Smith, American UFC fighter, born in Vallejo, California

Deaths in History

  • Jan 3 Princess Alice of Albany (b. 1883)
  • 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 6 A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer (Citadel, Shining Victory), dies at 84
  • Jan 7 Alvar Lidell, UK radio broadcaster (b. 1908)
  • Jan 7 Eric Robinson, Australian politician (b. 1926)
  • Jan 8 Matthew Beard, entertainer, dies
  • Jan 10 Fawn M. Brodie, American historian (b. 1915)
  • 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 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 (b. 1903)
  • 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