1984: A Year in Review

1984: A Year in Review

The first “Wonder Woman” film took fans back to 1918 when World War I was raging across Europe, but the upcoming sequel is taking fans back to the future with a totally tubular time-jump to 1984. So put on your best parachute pants and go back in time with us for 1984: A Year in Review. 

Here are the biggest movies, TV shows, musical groups, and cultural moments of the year to refresh yourself in preparation for the release of “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Top Movies of 1984

Leading the pack of critically-acclaimed films of 1984 was “Amadeus,” starring Tom Hulce as composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as rival composer Antonio Salieri. It earned 11 Academy Award nominations and won eight of them, including Best Picture. This was also the year of “The Killing Fields,” “A Passage to India,” and “Places in the Heart.”

For audience favorites of that year, 1984 saw some seminal ’80s movies released: “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Ghostbusters,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Gremlins,” “The Terminator,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “The Karate Kid” (fun fact: Noriyuki “Pat” Morita earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for playing Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid.”)

It was also the year that some future A-Listers burst onto the scene. Kevin Bacon had to cut loose in “Footloose,” Tom Hanks made a splash in “Splash,” and “Romancing the Stone” put Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, and director Robert Zemeckis on the map.

Top TV Shows of 1984

In ’84, some of the biggest shows of the decade were hitting their stride, like “Cagney & Lacey,” “Cheers,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Hill Street Blues,” and “Magnum P.I.”

It was also the year that welcomed groundbreaking newcomers “The Cosby Show,” “Miami Vice,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Night Court,” and “Who’s the Boss” to the small screen. 

This year also saw some classic shows air their final bows: “Fantasy Island,” “Hart to Hart,” “One Day at a Time,” “Three’s Company,” “The Edge of Night,” and “Happy Days” all went off the air in 1984.

Finally, September 10, 1984, saw the launch of an iconic game show — the late, great Alex Trebek invited fans to play “Jeopardy!” for the very first time. Cue theme music!

Top Musical Acts & Songs of 1984

Undoubtedly, the biggest musical act of 1984 was the prince of pop himself, Michael Jackson. His “Thriller” album was released in late 1982 and still sat at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for the first four months of 1984. It also still holds the record for best-selling album of all time.

1984 was also the year of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports,” and the “Footloose” soundtrack, all of which dominated at No. 1 for at least one week. This year also saw Van Halen release their most successful album, titled “1984,” and a little artist named Madonna dropped her iconic album “Like a Virgin” that year as well. Ever heard of it? Her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards had jaws dropping nationwide.

Then in August 1984, the No. 1 slot on the album chart would be filled through the end of the year by Prince’s “Purple Rain,” which went 13x Platinum in the U.S. alone. Its release was accompanied by a film of the same name that hit theaters in July of that year. “Purple Rain” is regarded as one of the greatest musical films of all time and earned Prince an Oscar for Best Original Song Score.

Top Cultural Moments of 1984

In January 1984, the Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII, which was the game where Apple ran its iconic 1984 ad for the Macintosh computer.

Also in January, President Reagan announced that work was starting on what would come to be known as the International Space Station.

In February, British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean earned perfect scores for artistic impression at the 1984 Winter Olympics, a feat that has never been duplicated.

In May, the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers played the longest game in Major League Baseball history — 25 innings over eight hours, six minutes, a record that still stands. It was suspended at 1 a.m. and resumed later that day.

In June 1984, Cirque du Soleil was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, Canada, by street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. It is now a world-renowned production that has performed for over 100 million people worldwide.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics, Carl Lewis equaled Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympics performance by winning four gold medals in track and field, and Mary Lou Retton won America’s heart with her gold medal-winning turn in women’s gymnastics. She was the first gymnast outside of Eastern Europe to win the women’s all-around competition.

December 1984 saw the infamous subway vigilante shooting in New York when four young men tried to rob Bernhard Goetz, who then shot them and fled. One of the young men was left paralyzed and brain-damaged. Goetz later surrendered to police and was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and several firearms offenses, but after two grand jury hearings and a criminal trial, the only charge he was ever found guilty of was carrying a loaded, unlicensed weapon in public. He served eight months in jail.

This was also the first year that a car officially labeled a “minivan” hit the market when Chrysler introduced its Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, and Plymouth Voyager.

Overall, 1984 was a radical year for pop culture. It’ll be totally bodacious watching Wonder Woman kick some ’80s butt when she flies onto the big screen for the WW84 sequel — hopefully, with the big hair, shoulder pads, and MTV-sensibilities that have come to define the decade. 

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