Saturday 19 October 2019

'Raiders' stormed box office as Diana stole our hearts


Edel O'Connell

A FAIRYTALE royal wedding, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' breaking box office records, and Bucks Fizz winning the Eurovision.

For many it will be hard to believe that 30 years have passed by, as these moments still echo vividly in popular culture.

The marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer -- which ended the reign of the most eligible bachelor in the world -- was a huge media event in the summer of 1981.

On July 29, crowds 600,000-strong filled the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the prince and his new bride in her enormous wedding dress with its 25-foot train.


The couple were married at St Paul's Cathedral before an invited congregation of 3,500 and an estimated global TV audience of 750 million -- making it the then most popular programme ever broadcast.

Overseas, there was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, the first appearance of 'Dynasty' on American television and the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January.

Two months later on March 30 he was shot in the chest outside a Washington hotel by John Hinckley Jr but survived.

Just months later, on May 13, Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt when he was shot and seriously wounded in St Peter's Square, Vatican City.

On June 12, 1981, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' was released and quickly made the record books with a domestic box office of more than $242m and a worldwide box office of around $384m. It became the top-grossing film of 1981 and remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made.

And athletics epic 'Chariots of Fire' took the Academy Award for best picture that year.

The most popular books of 1981 were 'Cujo' by Stephen King and 'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie.

Back in 1981 you were most likely listening to 'Bette Davis Eyes' by Kim Carnes which spent nine consecutive weeks at No 1, or warbling along with 'Endless Love' by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

August saw the birth of music television with the launch of MTV on American cable TV.

The first song on MTV was the Buggles' enduring ditty 'Video Killed the Radio Star'.

Famous people born in 1981 include Britney Spears and her former boyfriend Justin Timberlake, actress Natalie Portman, and singer Beyonce Knowles.

Reggae legend Bob Marley died on May 11, 1981, from cancer. He was just 36.

Six days previously Bobby Sands died aged 27 while on hunger strike in Maze Prison.

On June 5, 1981, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US reported that five homosexual men in Los Angeles had a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems -- these were the world's first recognised cases of AIDS.

Irish Independent

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