Wife of Benigno Aquino, the chief political opponent of Philippines President Ferdinand Marco. After Benigno was assassinated by government agents in 1983, Filipinos rallied around Corazon, who declared her candidacy for the presidency in an election that Marcos attempted to steal. When the military turned against Marcos, forcing him to flee the country, Corazon became the first woman president of the Philippines. She immediately restored the civil liberties quashed by Marcos. Between 1987 and 1989 there were no less than six coup attempts against the Aquino government. Though politically inexperienced, Corazon was popular among the people, and held office until 1992.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Atwater worked as an intern for conservative senator Strom Thurmond, and became executive director of the Young Republicans while attending Newberry College. Establishing his own political consulting firm, Atwater soon became a rising young star in the GOP, renowned for the brilliant and aggressive campaign strategies he devised. He gained notoriety for the Willie Horton commercial utilized by the Bush presidential campaign in 1988, which critics blasted as racist. Horton was a black man convicted of rape and murder who committed a crime while on furlough from prison thanks to a program supported by Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. Atwater became national chairman of the Republican Party shortly before his death in 1991 from a brain tumor.
Baker, Howard, Jr.
First elected to the U.S. Senate from his home state of Tennessee in 1966, Baker was the ranking Republican on the congressional committee investigating the Watergate scandal. A moderate, he was the Senate majority leader in the early 1980s and played a key role in pushing President Reagan's tax and budget proposals through Congress. He retired in 1984 to spend more time with his wife Joy, who had cancer, only to return to politics in 1987 when Reagan asked him to take over as White House chief of staff during the Iran-Contra scandal. Baker was a wise choice, since he was widely respected by Democrats as well as the press and had a well-deserved reputation for integrity.
Baker, James A., III
During the Reagan presidency, Baker was White House chief of staff (1981-1985) and then Secretary of Treasury (1985-1988). Considered a moderate and an extremely savvy politico, Baker wielded considerable power in the Reagan administration as a member of the "troika" -- Edwin Meese, Michael Deaver, and Baker himself -- who were the president's closest advisers. Born in Houston, Texas and educated at Princeton, Baker served in the Marine Corps and then studied law at the University of Texas In 1975 he was appointed undersecretary of commerce by President Gerald Ford, and in 1979 managed George H.W. Bush's campaign for the presidency. He brilliantly managed Reagan's 1984 reelection bid and later served as chairman of Bush's presidential election campaign in 1988. Bush made him Secretary of State in 1989, a post in which he served until 1992.
Televangelist whose program "The PTL Club" aired on hundreds of stations. In 1980 Bakker engaged in an extramarital affair with a church secretary named Jessica Hahn and then tried to bribe her to keep silent. Bigger problems, however, lay in store for Bakker, as a grand jury indicted him for fraud and conspiracy in connection with the misappropriation of millions of dollars from funds donated by his followers. Convicted in 1989 on 22 counts of fraud, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison, a sentence that was later commuted.
The 6th prime minister of Israel (1977-1983), Begin was born in Poland in 1913, became a member of the Zionist Betar youth movement and, during World War II, served in the Free Polish Army. After the war he became a leader of the militant Etzel nationalist movement striving to throw off British rule and establish a nation of Israel. As a member of the Knesset (Israel's parliament), Begin led the political opposition to the Labor governments of Israel's first 30 years. As prime minister, his greatest achievement was the peace treaty with Egypt (Camp David Accords), that called for Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai. His part in this accord won him the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In the early '80s, Begin was criticized by some for his aggressive defense of Israel, which prompted him to order the air strike that destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak and to launch military reprisals against Palestinian camps in southern Lebanon from which terrorists struck at Israeli targets. Failing health caused him to resign in September 1983. He died in 1992.
Born in Brooklyn, Bennett earned a Ph.D in philosophy at the University of Texas and became the most outspoken Reaganite in the "culture wars" as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and then secretary of education. During his stint at the NEH he sought to defund liberal projects, and as the latter he attacked multiculturalism while seeking to restore traditional studies in the humanities. He supported both school prayer and school vouchers. In 1989 he led the Bush administration's "drug wars." In 1990 the erudite and outspoken Bennett turned to writing bestselling works like The Book of Virtues (1993).
Bentsen, Lloyd, Jr.,
United States senator from Texas, 1971-1993, and the Democratic candidate for vice-president in 1988, Bentsen earned a law degree at the University of Texas, served as a bomber pilot in World War II, and in 1948 was elected to the House of Representatives. He served as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in 1986. He was conservative in many of his views, including support for the MX missile system and the Nicaraguan rebels, the Contras, and his opposition to federally funded abortions. Bentsen proved to be a strong running mate for 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, ravaging Republican counterpart Dan Quayle in the vice-presidential debate. He became Secretary of the Treasury in 1993.
Born in Indiana in 1956, Larry Bird was a star college basketball player with Indiana State University's team. He joined the Boston Celtics and was named NBA rookie of the year in 1980. He led the Celtics to NBA championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986, and was named pro basketball's Most Valuable Player three consecutive years beginning in 1984. He and Ervin (Magic) Johnson were without doubt the dominant basketball pros of the decade. Bird retired in 1992, the year he won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. basketball team (the "Dream Team") at the Summer Olympics.
Born in Detroit, Boesky moved to New York City and entered the securities industry in 1966. His talent for sniffing out imminent takeovers made him one of the richest traders on Wall Street. In 1986 he wrote Merger Mania -- Arbitrage: Wall Street's Best Kept Money-Making Secret. That same year federal investigators learned that he was using insider information. Boesky paid $100 million in fines and agreed to act as a government informer. He spent two years in California's Lompoc Federal Prison Camp. Credited with preaching that "greed is good."
Bork was President Ronald Reagan's controversial conservative nominee for the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Lewis Powell in 1987. He had earned some notoriety while in Nixon's Justice Department for being the man who obeyed the Nixon order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate investigation. Bork had served as solicitor general under President Ford, and in 1982 was placed on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. Liberals feared Bork would use his strict constructionist approach to the Constitution to try to overturn Roe v. Wade as well as affirmative action and civil rights laws. The judicial activism of liberal jurists ran contrary to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, in Bork's view; therefore rulings like the one which had affirmed a woman's right to an abortion were wrong. Democrats on the Senate Judicial Committee used inflammatory rhetoric to demonize Bork, and freely distorted his record. For his part, Bork's combative approach to the confirmation process only hurt his cause, and he became the first Supreme Court nominee since 1970 to be denied confirmation.
Born George O'Dowd, this flamboyant British cross-dresser was lead singer for the band Culture Club, which had a string of electropop hits in the 1980s including "Kharma Chameleon," "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" and "Church of the Poison Mind" and became one of the most popular groups in the world. By 1985, however, the off-stage antics of publicity-seeking Boy George overshadowed the band. A heroin addict, he was arrested for drug possession in 1986, and Culture Club disbanded soon thereafter. Boy George went on to enjoy a successful solo career in the Nineties.
Born in Illinois in 1940, James Brady was Ronald Reagan's press secretary until he was wounded on March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate the president. Though he recovered, Brady wrestled with complications from the wound for many years. His wife Sarah became a leading gun control advocate, and Brady joined the crusade only after Reagan, who was staunchly opposed to gun control, left office. In 1991 Congress passed the Brady Bill, which Reagan endorsed but President Bush vetoed. The gun control legislation was passed by Congress again in 1992, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
The supermodel of the 1980s, Brinkley graced the covers of nearly all the leading magazines, including several Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. Her 20-year contract with Cover Girl, beginning in 1976, was the longest in modeling history. In 1985 she married pop singer Billy Joel, and appeared in some of Joel's music videos. She also appeared in the1983 hit film National Lampoon's Vacation.
The 15th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Burger was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and practiced law there for more than two decades before joining the Department of Justice in 1953. Three years later, President Eisenhower appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. In 1969 his conservative rulings prompted President Nixon to appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, succeeding Earl Warren as chief justice. He was not the strong leader in the court that conservatives had hoped for. He resigned in 1986 and was replaced by William Rehnquist.
Born in Rye, New York, and related to Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, Barbara Bush dropped out of Smith College in 1945 to marry war veteran George Bush. Together they had six children, and she became an extremely popular First Lady (1989-1993), praised for her down-to-earth style and forthrightness. She tirelessly advocated literacy, and the Barbara Bush Foundation supported reading programs throughout the country. Other causes included the fight against leukemia, which had taken the life of one of her daughters.
Bush, George Herbert Walker
Son of a Republican U.S. senator from Connecticut, George Bush had served briefly as a representative from Texas, ambassador to China, and director of the CIA before running for president in 1980. He became Ronald Reagan's running mate and served as vice-president from 1981-1989. Reagan's right-wing supporters mistrusted his moderate views, and Bush was uncomfortable with the president's hard-line approach to dealing with the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, he chaired a task force that recommended the deregulation policies of the Carter administration. In 1988, Bush ran for president as the Republican nominee and Reagan's heir-apparent, defeating Democratic adversary Michael Dukakis in what was an extremely negative campaign. During the Republican convention he chose Indiana congressman J. Danforth Quayle as his running mate and promised no new taxes -- decisions he later had cause to regret. The maladroit Quayle became a target of media ridicule, and Bush did in fact raise taxes during his one term in office. He also presided over the Persian Gulf War in 1991. In his 1992 reelection bid, Bush was defeated by Democrat William J. Clinton and retired to private life.
Carter, James Earl, Jr.
The 39th president of the United States, 1977-1981. Born in 1924 in Plains, Georgia, Carter attended the Naval Academy, graduating in 1946. He married his high school sweetheart Rossalyn Carter, and had three children. Resigning from the navy in 1953, Carter took over the family peanut farm. He served two terms as a state senator, made an unsuccessful bid for the governorship of Georgia in 1966, and a successful one four years later. Still in his first term as governor, Carter campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976. His carefully nurtured image as an "outsider" was an advantage during a period when Americans had lost confidence in the federal government. Carter went on to defeat Republican President Gerald Ford. During his presidency, Carter was increasingly perceived as an honest man who lacked the requisite leadership abilities to guide the nation through troubled times. During his one term in office, runaway inflation and rising unemployment stymied the American economy. The OPEC oil crisis and the Iran hostage crisis also occurred during his watch. In 1980, Carter ran for reelection but was soundly defeated by Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.
Casey, William J.
Born in New York, Casey graduated from Fordham University and during World War II worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. After the war he became a partner in a New York law firm. He was Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and undersecretary of state for economic affairs during the Nixon-Ford years. In 1980, Casey worked as Ronald Reagan's campaign manager, and became the director of the CIA. During his tenure, Casey improved morale in the agency and stepped up covert, anti-communist operations around the world. Many critics believed he played a major role in the Iran-Contra affair, and the testimony of General Richard Secord and others during congressional hearings implicated him in that scandal. He died of a brain tumor on May 6, 1987.
One of the biggest bestselling authors of the 1980s, Clancy was the undisputed master of the techno-thriller with novels like The Hunt for Red October (1984), Red Storm Rising (1986), and Patriot Games (1987). Born in Baltimore, he was educated at Loyola College and worked in the insurance field before achieving his ambition to be a writer.
This aggressive and durable American tennis player won eight grand slam tournaments, including a Wimbledon title in 1982, and U.S. Opens in 1982 and 1983. He turned professional in 1972 and in 1974 swept through three grand slams -- the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. He gave up his role as the "bad boy" of tennis to John McEnroe, and their matches were always very popular and often spectacular.
Born in Syracuse, New York, Tom Cruise became a hot box office draw following his performance in the 1983 film Risky Business, a success he followed with The Color of Money(1986) and Top Gun (1986). He received critical praise for his performances in 1988's Rain Man, and Born on the Fourth of July the following year, in which he played a paraplegic Vietnam vet. (He was nominated for an Academy Award for that effort.) His only misstep in the 1980s was the film Cocktail (1988).
Born to Italian immigrants in Queens, Cuomo earned a law degree in 1956 and ran for mayor of New York City in 1977. He was defeated by Edward Koch, but the following year became New York's lieutenant governor. In 1982, he became governor, and was reelected in 1986 and 1990. He made an impact as the keynote speaker at the 1984 Democratic national convention, and his name was often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in future election years. In the Eighties he was an articulate and charismatic spokesman for liberal causes like gun control.
Deaver, Michael K.
California-born Michael Deaver was one of President Reagan's closest advisers, a man considered a friend by both the president and the first lady. Deaver had worked for Reagan when the latter was governor of California. During the 1980s Deaver proved himself a master at image-making, orchestrating the president's public appearances. He left the White House in 1985 and became a lobbyist. Two years later he was indicted for violating ethics laws, and was convicted for lying to Congress about his activities as a lobbyist.
Diana (Princess of Wales)
Born in 1961 in Norfolk, England, Diana was the youngest daughter of Edward John Spencer, Viscount of Althorp, and became Lady Diana when her father succeeded the 7th Earl Spencer. The childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth's younger sons Andrew and Edward, she married the eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, in a globally televised ceremony watched by hundreds of millions of people on July 29, 1981. Her first child, William, was born in 1982, and her second, Henry, in 1984. The shy and beautiful princess was a media favorite, adored by millions, and added lustre to the British monarchy. But marital problems led Diana and Charles to separate in 1992, and they were divorced in 1996. She lent her considerable influence to humanitarian causes until her death in an auto accident in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Elected to the Kansas state legislature in 1950, Dole had served in World War II and was seriously injured while fighting in Italy. He went to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 and then, in 1968, became a U.S. senator. In 1976 he was Gerald Ford's vice-presidential running mate. He was one of the most prominent conservative Republicans in the Senate during the 1980s, and played an important role in passing many of President Reagan's domestic proposals, particularly the Tax Reform Act of 1986. By that time he was majority leader, and in 1988 sought the GOP presidential nomination. Throughout the Bush presidency he was Senate minority leader (the Democrats regained control of the Senate in 1986). Dole's wife, Elizabeth, served in both the Reagan and Bush cabinets. Dole finally won the GOP presidential nomination in 1996, only to be defeated by Democrat Bill Clinton.
Until Oprah Winfrey came along, Donahue was arguably the most popular talk show host of the Eighties. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Donahue attended Notre Dame and worked in local television in Dayton, Ohio, where the "Phil Donahue Show" debuted. A syndicated talk show, it was moved to Chicago in 1974 and by 1980 was shown on 200 stations. In 1984 the show was moved to New York City. Not afraid to tackle controversial issues, Donahue won nine Emmy Awards for best talk show host.
The son of Greek immigrants, Dukakis was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1933. He earned a Harvard law degree in 1960 and married Kitty Dickson in 1963, the year after he entered politics with his election to the Massachusetts state legislature. In 1974 he became governor, but lost his reelection bid, after which he taught at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In 1982 he was again the governor, and was reelected four years later. In 1988 he won the Democratic nomination for president and chose Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen as running mate in a presidential campaign that many consider the dirtiest in modern political history. He lost the race to George Bush, and after completing his term as Massachusett's governor retired from public life.
Ellis, Bret Easton
Ellis became a literary phenomenon virtually overnight with his 1985 novel Less Than Zero, a seminal work portraying the tawdry existence of a new Lost Generation of American youth. He formed with Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz a kind of pop-lit "brat pack" that influenced American letters in the last half of the decade and into the Nineties. He also wrote The Rules of Attraction (1987) and American Psycho (1991.) The latter, about a yuppie serial killer, was graphically violent and extremely controversial.
An evangelist born in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church and later the Lynchburg Baptist College. His "Old Time Gospel Hour" became a very popular radio and television broadcast. In 1979, Falwell founded the Moral Majority, a conservative political group that played an important role in the 1980 presidential and congressional elections. In the Eighties his libel suit against pornographer Larry Flynt became a high-profile First Amendment case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Born in Newburgh, New York, Ferraro earned a law degree at Fordham University. In 1974 she became an assistant district attorney in Queens, and four years later was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1984 she was selected by Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale as his running mate and became the first female vice-presidential nominee in U.S. history. Questions about her financial disclosures and her husband John Zaccaro's real estate dealings negatively affected her campaign. After the November defeat at the polls she retired to private life until 1992, when she made an unsuccessful bid to become a U.S. senator from New York.
Daughter of Hollywood great Henry Fonda, Jane became an actress and a top Hollywood star in her own right during the 1970s, winning Academy Awards for performances in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978). An anti-war activist, she was scorned by many Americans for visiting North Vietnam in 1972, and was nicknamed "Hanoi Jane." During the Eighties she had one memorable film, On Golden Pond (1981), in which she starred with her father. Jane met with great success as a star of the decade's fitness craze, writing the bestselling Jane Fonda's Workout Book in 1981 and making a series of instructional videos. With husband Tom Hayden, she was active in California politics during this time, as well. In the Nineties she would marry media mogul Ted Turner.
Born in Chicago in 1942, Harrison Ford embarked on an acting career in 1966, but it wasn't until he was cast in the role of Han Solo in the 1977 hit film Star Wars that he got his big break. In the 1980s he became a superstar when he played Indiana Jones in the 1981 movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark and two sequels, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). He also starred in Witness (1985), Frantic (1988), and Working Girl (1988). Throughout the decade he was a top box office draw and arguably Hollywood's number one leading man.
Served as India's prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 until she was assassinated in 1984. Her father, Jawaharial Nehru, was the first prime minister of India after it gained its independence from Britain following World War II. Indira was active in the Congress Party while her father was in power, and she became prime minister for the first time two years after his death. Politically adept, she ruled with an iron hand. Her opponents made an uneasy alliance among themselves and managed to unseat her briefly in the late Seventies, but in 1980 she was back in power. After she crushed a Sikh secessionist movement, she was killed by two of her bodyguards. She was replaced by her son Rajiv, who was prime minister until 1989. (Rajiv was assassinated two years later.) Indira was no relation to Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi.
The "Subway Vigilante" who shot four black teenagers on a Manhattan subway in December 1984, the 37-year-old Goetz became a hero to many Americans concerned about the epidemic of crime that besieged America in the Eighties. Goetz had been mugged two years earlier, and began carrying a gun, and claimed he was threatened by the four youths he shot. Others said he was looking for trouble. At the conclusion of a lengthy and celebrated trial, he was acquitted on all counts except for a weapons charge.
Joining the Communist Party in Russia at age 21, Gorbachev rose swiftly through the ranks. A protege of Yuri Andropov, he became a member of the Politburo in 1980, and was second in command during the years that Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko served as general secretary. When the latter died in 1985, Gorbachev took the reins of power. The Soviet Union was in dire straits, facing military defeat in Afghanistan and economic collapse at home. Gorbachev pushed for politic,economic and social reforms. He held a series of summits with President Reagan in an attempt to slow an arms race that was too costly for the USSR to maintain. His reforms paved the way for uprisings in Eastern Europe that led to the collapse of communism in that region. In 1990 Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The following year he survived an attempted coup by right-wing hawks in the Communist Party, and soon after relinquished power to reformer Boris Yeltsin.
Canadian-born Gretzky was the premier hockey player of the 1980s. Nicknamed "The Great One," he played center for the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers and led the team to four Stanley Cup championships, setting records in assists, goals and points. During the 1979-80 season he won the first of eight consecutive Hart Trophies as the NHL's most valuable player. He also won the Ross Trophy (league's leading scorer) every year between 1981 and 1987. He was with the Canadian national team that won the Canada Cup tournaments in 1984 and 1987. The Edmonton dynasty ended in 1988, and Gretzky was trade to the Los Angeles Kings. He continued to play through the Nineties, but was no longer the dominant offensive player in the sport.
Haig, Alexander M.
Pennsylvania-born Haig graduated from the military academy at West Point in 1947, and spent the next 25 years moving up in the ranks until, in 1974, he became commander in chief of American forces in NATO. He also served as chief of staff in the Nixon White House and was one of the few to emerge with his integrity intact in the wake of Watergate. President Reagan chose him to be secretary of state, a post he held until his resignation in 1982. Haig was a hawk with respect to the Soviet Union and insisted that he alone had to be the president's foreign policy representative, a point of view that did not endear him to others in the administration.
A Kansas-born senator from Colorado, Gary Hart sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and again in 1988. In his early years he had graduated from Yale University and worked as George McGovern's campaign manager, entering the U.S. Senate in 1976. Hart came close to defeating Walter Mondale for the nomination in 1984, and was considered the front-runner in 1988, but his campaign was destroyed by revelations that he was a womanizer, charges that centered around photos of Hart in Florida with a model/actress named Donna Rice while Hart's wife and children were in Colorado. He presented himself as a New Democrat and a reformer, in contrast to the old-style, New Deal liberal Democrat represented by Mondale.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1956, Heiden participated in his first Winter Olympics in 1976. The following year he won the world speed skating championship, the first American to do so, and repeated in 1978, 1979 and 1980. At the 1980 Winter Olympics he set three world records and won five gold medals -- 500 meter, 1,000 meter, 1,500 meter, 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter. His sister Beth also competed in the 1980 Olympics. Following this remarkable achievement, Heiden turned to professional cycling.
Hinckley, John W. Jr
On March 30, 1981, this disturbed young man attempted to assassinate President Reagan as the latter emerged from the Washington Hilton. The president, his press secretary, a secret service agent and a policeman were all wounded. Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and apparently wanted to kill someone important to prove his love for her. In 1980 he had been arrested for carrying concealed weapons in Nashville when Jimmy Carter was making a campaign appearance there. Hinckley pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and he was placed in a psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period of time.
One of the most successful and influential filmmakers of the 1980s, Hughes was born in 1950 in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in Chicago. He dropped out of college in his junior year and became an advertising copywriter. In 1979 he was editor of National Lampoon magazine and wrote the screenplay for National Lampoon's Class Reunion (1982) as well as Mr. Mom (1983). He got his big break as writer/director of the 1984 hit flick Sixteen Candles, and followed this success with Weird Science (1985), The Breakfast Club (1986), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), She's Having A Baby (1988) and other modern film classics.
The son of Italian immigrants, Iacocca grew up during the Great Depression. Educated at Lehigh and Princeton, he went to work for Ford Motor Company, and was the man who convinced Henry Ford II to build the sporty Mustang -- 400,000 of which were sold in 1964, a first-year record. Fired without explanation in 1978, Iacocca took over the struggling Chrysler Corporation and presided over one of the most remarkable turnarounds in corporate history. In 1986 Iacocca headed the effort to restore and rededicate the Statue of Liberty. Retiring from Chrysler in 1992, he was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. He founded the Iacocca Institute, which strives to foster the competitiveness of American business in a global economy. He also owns EV Global Motors Company, which makes an LEV (Light Electric Vehicle.)
Born in South Carolina in 1941, Jackson was a protege of Martin Luther King, Jr., and during the 1980s ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988. As a youth he was a star athlete and won a scholarship to the University of Illinois. He became actively involved in the civil rights struggle, first with Operation Breadbasket, which campaigned for more jobs for blacks in Chicago, and in the 1970s with Operation PUSH. Though a longshot for the Democratic nomination in 1984, Jackson did better than expected, proving he was a political force to be reckoned with. In 1988 he did even better, winning primaries in the South. Throughout the Eighties he was an articulate and high-profile critic of the Reagan administration.
Born in Gary, Indiana, Jackson was a child prodigy who at age five joined his brothers in a singing group called the Jackson 5. He established himself as a solo performer in the Seventies, but it wasn't until 1982, with the release of the album Thriller, that Jackson became a superstar in his own right. The album won eight Grammys and sold 40 million copies. He cowrote the song "We Are the World" in 1985, and had another bestselling album in 1987 with Bad. His autobiography, Moonwalk, was published in 1988. An outstanding performer, Jackson's eccentric, reclusive lifestyle seemed only to enhance his popularity during the Eighties.
John Paul II
Karol Wojtyla was born in Poland in 1920. He became the archbishop of Krakow in 1964, and cardinal three years later. On October 16, 1978, he became the first non-Italian pope in almost five centuries, succeeding John Paul I. In May 1981 he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by a Turkish terrorist. He made frequent Papal visits around the world. A traditionalist, he opposed homosexuality, abortion, birth control, genetic engineering, moral relativism and the ordination of women. In the 1980s he wrote encyclicals exposing the fallacies of Marxism, materialism and superpower rivalries. He played an important role in bringing democracy and religious freedom to the former Soviet socialist republics of eastern Europe.
Johnson, Ervin (Magic)
The L.A. Lakers dominated pro basketball in the Eighties thanks in no small part to the remarkably talented point guard, Magic Johnson, one of the greatest playmakers in the history of the NBA. Johnson left Michigan State as a sophomore to play for the Lakers, and led the team to five NBA titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988). He was the NBA's season Most Valuable Player twice during the decade, and the championships MVA in 1982 and 1987. His chief rival during the decade was Larry Bird, who played for the Boston Celtics. Johnson retired in 1991, announcing that he had tested positive for HIV and becoming a national spokesman for AIDS prevention. In the Nineties he served one season as head coach for the Lakers.
Kennedy, Edward (Ted)
This senator from Massachusetts was a leading critic of President Reagan's conservative policies during the 1980s. The youngest son of businessman Joseph Kennedy, he attended Harvard and was elected to fill the senate seat of his older brother John F. Kennedy when the latter became president. Though Ted aspired to the presidency himself, his chances to ascend to the highest office were quashed by the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a passenger in a car that he drove off a Chappaquiddick Island bridge in 1969. A liberal champion of social welfare legislation, Ted was a key player in the campaign to block Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork for Supreme Court justice in 1987.
Khomeini, Ruhollah (Ayatollah)
Sayyid Ruhollah al-Musavi al-Khomeini was the Shiite religious leader of the revolution that ousted Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the leader of Iran in 1979. Khomeini opposed the Shah's attempts to modernize Iran's society with such policies as equal rights for women and objected to Iran's close relations with the West. He was expelled from the country in 1964, only to return in 1979. After the Shah was overthrown, Khomeini was made ruler for life and presided over an Islamic state ruled by the clergy.. He had most of his political and religious opponents executed, and presided over an eight-year war with neighboring Iraq. He died in June 1989.
Born in Portland, Maine, King wrote his first story when he was seven, and in the 1970s established himself as a leading author of horror novels with hits like Carrie, his first novel, published in 1973, and The Shining (1976.) In the Eighties he was one of America's most popular novelists, with bestselling works like Christine (1983), It (1986) and Misery (1987).
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985, Kirkpatrick was born in Oklahoma and educated at Columbia University. She became a professor of political science at Georgetown and was active in Democratic Party politics. However, she broke with the Democratic leadership on foreign policy issues, and as a hardline anti-communist criticized President Carter's emphasis on human rights over fighting the spread of Marxism.. During the 1980 presidential campaign she served as Republican candidate Ronald Reagan's foreign policy adviser. As UN ambassador she formulated what has been called the "Kirkpatrick doctrine" -- justifying American support of friendly authoritarian regimes. She was often at war with the UN, accusing it of having an anti-American bias. She left government service in 1985 and returned to teaching.
Unlike some of his predecessors, Dr. Koop had no intention of being simply a figurehead when he became U.S. Surgeon General in 1981. A pediatric surgeon for over 40 years, Koop was initially criticized by liberals for his religious fervor and his stance against abortion. However, their view of him improved greatly when he took on the tobacco industry and fought with the Reagan administration over the federal government's responsibilities regarding the AIDS epidemic. Koop thought the administration was responding too slowly to the crisis. He promoted sex education and the use of condoms, angering conservatives. One of the most effective surgeon generals ever, he had grown up in New York City and was educated at Dartmouth and Cornell. He served as surgeon general until 1990.
Born in Lancashire, England,. Koppel was the son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. He moved to New York City with his family in 1953 and was educated at Syracuse and Stanford. Joining ABC, Koppel was a correspondent in Vietnam and head of the Hong Kong bureau in 1969. Ten years later he got his big break as anchor for nightly reports on the Iran hostage crisis. This popular program, "Nightline," was highly regarded throughout the Eighties as Koppel dealt with important issues in an informative way. Koppel was renowned for his intelligent, straightforward and persistent interviewing.
Born in Queens, this high school dropout went on to become one of the biggest sensations in the early Eighties music scene. Her debut album, She's So Unusual (1984), sold five million copies and produced four Top Ten hits including "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," an anthem of self-expression adopted by millions of teenage girls. Lauper created a distinctive image with her multi-colored hair and flamboyant costumes, and was instrumental in moving new wave/punk music into the mainstream. Her other albums include True Colors (1986) and A Night To Remember (1989), neither achieving the success or approaching the significance of her first.