The 1980's Timeline. 1981 News, Politics, Music, TV, Movies & Deaths. Growing Up in the 80s. Relive the 1980's by visiting our Growing Up in the 80s pages

What happen in 1981


  • Pope John Paul II is shot twice in St Peter's Square (recovers fully)
  • The Iranian President, Prime Minister and 29 others were killed in a bomb attack
  • Peter Sutcliffe is arrested in Sheffield, UK and charged with the 13 'Yorkshire Ripper' murders.
  • The Springbok (South African) Rugby tour of New Zealand. Over 1000 people were arrested during the two months of the tour.
  • Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are married at St Pauls Cathedral.
  • Attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley
  • Civil War rages in Lebanon
  • Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat is assassinated
  • Muhammad Ali retires from boxing


  • Don't You Want Me by Human League
  • Gloria by U2
  • Pretty in Pink by the Psychedelic Furs
  • Golden Brown by the Stranglers
  • Tainted Love by Soft Cell
  • Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode
  • Never Say Never by Romeo Void


TV and at the MOVIES
  • Those def babysitting College Girls at The Facts of Life
  • Family Ties (Alex Keaton was my hero)
  • Brideshead Revisitted (Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews...British heaven)
  • An American Werewolf in London scared the pants of everyone
  • Arthur was just soooooo funny
  • Gallipoli made sure that we should never forget
  • An Officer and a Gentleman took us up where we belong
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced us to Indiana Jones
  • Chariots of Fire was an Olympic effort


People who died in 1981
  • Bill Haley (b.1925) American bandleader
  • Joe Louis (b.1914) American boxer
  • Bob Marley (b.1945) Jamaican reggae musician
  • William Holden (b.1918) American actor
  • Natalie Wood (b.1938) American actress
  • Hoagy Carmichael (b.1899) American songwriter


1982 ->

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