50 Fascinating Incidents and Facts From the 1980s

26Friend of Dorothy

In the 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service undertook a massive and futile search for a woman named “Dorothy” in the Chicago area, after hearing gay men refer to themselves as “friends of Dorothy.” They believed that she was at the center of a ring of gay military personnel.


27. During the 1988 purges in Iran, women were lashed for missing their daily prayers. When one woman died after 22 days and 550 lashes, the authorities certified her death as suicide because it was 'she who had made the decision not to pray'.


28. In 1987, there were only 22 California Condors left on the planet. All of them were caught to help preserve the species. As of December 2016, there were 446 condors living in wild or in captivity.


29. In 1987, an American actress named Jamie Lee Curtis invented and patented a diaper modification, which had a moisture proof pocket containing wipes for easy access. She refused to allow it to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diapers. The patent expired in 2007 and it is now in the public domain.


30. In 1986, the United Way released 1.5 million balloons in Cleveland as a publicity stunt. It clogged the land and waterways of North East Ohio, shut down an airport runway, and forced the Coast Guard to suspend a search and rescue of 2 men who ended up drowning.


31Jerry Falwell

In 1985, Edward Johnson programmed his computer to call Jerry Falwell's (American Pastor) toll-free number every 30 seconds and then hang up. In total, he charged over $500,000 in phone bills to Falwell's organization.


32. On 23 August 1989, around 2 million people joined hands in a human chain that stretched 600 kilometres across the 3 Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. They did this to protest their countries’ forced inclusion in the Soviet Union.


33. In 1981, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers after they refused to end their strike and subsequently banned them from federal service for life.


34. An Alabama school tried to ban 'The Diary of A Young Girl' by Anne Frank in 1983 because, according to the board's records, it was "a real downer."


35. Studio Ghibli adopted a strict 'no edits' policy after a disastrous 1985 dub of 'Nausica of the Valley of the Winds'. On hearing Miramax would later try editing Princess Mononoke to make it more marketable, Studio Ghibli sent an authentic katana with a simple message: "No cuts".


36John Story

In 1985, a doctor named John Story in Lovell, Wyoming was convicted of sexually assaulting patients for over 25 years. One of the reasons he was able to get away with it for so long was that many of his victims were strict Mormons and didn't know what a proper pelvic exam, or even sex, felt like.


37. In 1982, as a protest against actions by the United States federal government, Key West in Florida seceded from and then declared war on the United States, surrendered one minute later and then applied for $1 billion in foreign aid.


38. In 1980, a Centaur skeleton was assembled using the remains of a human and Shetland pony, then displayed as a real artifact in order to challenge student skepticism


39. In 1984, Michael Larson was a contestant on 'Press Your Luck'. Using the stop-motion on his VCR, he noticed that the presumed random patterns of the game board weren't actually random, and memorized the sequences. He won 45 consecutive spins and earned a total of $110,237 in cash and prizes.


40. The 1980’s song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" is widely misinterpreted as a positive outlook on the future. Writer Pat MacDonald explained the song is actually about a grim outlook, even hinting that the “bright future” was in fact due to an impending nuclear holocaust.


41Cliff Young

In 1983, a 61-year-old potato farmer named Cliff Young won a 544 mile endurance race because he ran throughout the night while the younger 'professional' athletes slept.


42. In 1984, American actress Cynthia Nixon made her Broadway history by appearing in two Broadway plays at the same time. Her roles were short, and the two theaters were only two blocks away from each other, so she would run from one to the other. She was only 18 years old.


43. In 1985, an American teenager named Ryan White was refused re-entry to his school due to him having AIDS. 117 Parents and 50 teachers petitioned for his ban. People even cancelled their subscriptions as White was the paperboy and they believed they would be infected via newsprint.


44. Muhammad Ali saved a man from committing suicide in 1981 by shouting at him 'I am your brother,' “I love you and I wouldn't lie to you ... I want to help you.”


45. In 1987, a man named Mike Hayes convinced 2.8 million people to send him a penny each for his college education.


46Jimmy Stewart

In 1988, actor Jimmy Stewart made a plea in Congressional hearings against Ted Turner's decision to 'colorize' classic black and white films, including 'It's a Wonderful Life', stating 'It's morally and artistically wrong and these profiteers should leave our film industry alone."


47. The Soviet Union cancelled history exams in 1988 because increased government transparency had revealed that the textbooks were filled with lies.


48. In the 1980's, A&W tried to sell a third pounder burger to rival McDonald's quarter pounder. They sold it for the same price, but nobody wanted to buy it because the majority of people thought they were getting less meat (thinking a third [1/3] was lesser than a quarter [1/4]).


49. In 1980, 4 FBI agents went to the Census Bureau's Colorado Springs office with warrants but were forced to leave. Courts upheld that no agency, including the FBI, has access to Census data."


50. In 1985, John Fogerty of ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ band was sued for sounding like himself in his solo music album. The cost was $1.1 million in legal fees. He pushed it to the Supreme Court to fight the double standard of defendants not being awarded the fees and won, setting a precedent that defends artists from corporate sabotage.

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