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Dateline: Events/Headlines – Week Of August 20, 1981 In News, Pop Culture, Tech, Celebrity, Sports, Entertainment & Fascinating Facts



In The News

The Defense Department says two Navy F-14’s shot down two Libyan fighters over the Mediterranean Sea. Launched from the aircraft carrier “Nimitz” the planes came under unprovoked attack 60 nautical miles off the Liberian coast and responded by launching heat-seeking Sidewinder missiles that sent the Soviet-built Libyan planes plummeting into the sea. Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi claimed that its planes shot down one of the American fighters and that Navy helicopters had been seen in the area of the wreckage. The claim was denied by the Defense Department and that no U.S. plane was lost.

Right of passage - Although most nations claim a territorial jurisdiction over waters within 12 miles of their coastlines (U.S. is three miles), Libya says the Gulf of Sidra, where the plane attack took place, belongs in their territory - but the U.S. says the 12-mile limit was accepted by Libya in principal when the Law of the Sea conference began a decade ago. The U.S. maintains a right of passage in the Gulf.  

King E. Bell (30) who is described as a “religious fanatic” is arrested for the murders of his four children, their mother and grandmother. The youngsters, ages 1 to 6, were found in a basement bedroom, lined-up in bed and slain execution-style. The two woman were found gunned-down in another house. Police say the shootings apparently were precipitated by a domestic quarrel. A boyfriend of the mother was wounded.  

OPEC fails to reach agreement on a unified oil price and Saudi Arabia announces that it will freeze its price at the present $32 a barrel, currently the lowest on the world market, until the end of 1982. 

As the Voyager 2 spacecraft leaves the planet Saturn, something goes wrong with the platform supporting its cameras and three other key instruments. The camera can no longer swing around in a full circle. Engineers at JPL are hard at work trying to determine the cause of the problem.

Doctors perform their 4th surgery on White House Press Secretary James Brady since he was shot in the March 30 assassination attempt against President Reagan. More bullet fragments and some damaged bone were removed.


Bestselling books – August 20, 1981

Glitter Dome - Joseph Wambaugh

The Third Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders

Noble House - James Clavell

Goodbye Janette - Harold Robbins

Night Probe - Clive Cussler

Cujo - Stephen King

The White Hotel - D.M. Thomas

The Cardinal Sins - Andrew M. Greeley

The Last Days of America - Paul Erdman

The Beverly Hills Diet - Judy Mazel

How To Make Love To A Man - Alexandra Penny

Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life

The Lord God Made Them All - James Herriot

The Cinderella Complex - Colette Dowling

The Hite Report on Male Sexuality - Shere Hite

Living Alone and Liking It - Lynn Shahan 


Entertainment/Video/Movie news – August 20, 1981

Passing - Jessie Matthews (74) - once rated among the biggest stars of musical motion pictures in Britain and beyond. Although she never made a film outside Britain, by 1936 she ranked ahead of Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby and Joan Crawford at the world’s box offices. 

John Hale (37) a veteran Hollywood stuntman dies in an 80-foot fall from a cliff in Bronson Canyon - Hollywood. The rural area is famous for its many films and television shows and the crew for “The Sword and The Sorcerer” filmed him falling from a cliff, when he missed a huge air bag by two feet. Hale had recently doubled for Tom Sellick on “Magnum P.I.” and worked in such films as “Airplane,” and the television shows “Kojak,” and “McCloud.”

A visit to a video store finds this ... purchase these movies outright in either Beta or VHS formats ...$30.95 for the Beta version or $46.50 for the VHS version:


Blue Hawaii

Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid

The Fog


Muppet Movie


The Producers

Saturn 3

Silver Streak

Raise the Titanic

Straw Dogs

The Graduate

The African Queen

Norma Rae


Get “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro - $61.95-Beta or VHS!


Television news – August 20, 1981

Cable-TV Update –

Ted Turner’s Turner Broadcasting System agrees to buy two TV channels on the Galaxy 1 communications satellite now being built by Hughes Aircraft Co. The channels or transponders on the satellite are being offered by Hughes to selected customers for $15 million to $20 million each.

Later in the week, it’s learned that Turner may be using those transponders to launch a new channel - a second national cable news channel by January 1st. The announcement came just eight days after Westinghouse and ABC said they would start two cable news channels by early next year. Says Turner “They’re in for the fight of their lives.” The new channel will be called CNN-2 and is budgeted at approximately $1 million to $1.25 million a month. It will function as a headline service offering quickly updated news briefs on a 30-minute “newsclock” rotation. The “newsclock” format was perfected by 1010-WINS Radio in New York City in the 60’s. The channel will include five-minute local news segments that will be programmed by local cable TV systems.


Friday Night Television listings/programs/TV guide – August 20, 1981

CBS Special-Good Evening Captain, Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas

NBC - Harper Valley, PTA, Comedy Theater, Movie

ABC - Baseball, Benson

PBS - MacNeil-Lehrer Report, Washington Week In Review, Wall Street Week


On Good Evening Captain - A salute with comedy and music to Captain Kangaroo starring Bob Keeshan.

On Dallas - Donna and Ray marry and the cold war between Ellie and Jock escalates.


Music news – August 20, 1981

Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for fatally shooting Beatle John Lennon on the evening of December 8, 1980. Before sentencing, his defense lawyer introduced expert psychiatric testimony that his client was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed the devil made him kill Lennon. Chapman, clutching a copy of “Catcher In The Rye,” stood impassive as the sentence was read.

Ringo Starr signs with Neil Bogart’s “Boardwalk Entertainment Co.” His first album “Stop and Smell the Roses” will be released in October. In it, he’ll perform songs written and produced by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ron Wood, Harry Nilsson and Stephen Stills. Bogart says that Boardwalk is developing a major advertising and marketing campaign to promote the record, which was begun last year before the December death of John Lennon. Lennon was to contribute to the album and was scheduled to join Ringo in the studio in January.

Singer B.J. Thomas gets inducted into the Grand Ol’ Opry...

The Carpenters come out of their commercial hit-making slump over the last few years with “Touch Me When We’re Dancing.” With their new hit, they have a 6th television special planned for the fall and they’ll tour next year. The Carpenters latest album is “Made in America.”  

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band perform in a downpour at the outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. At intermission - “The Boss” asked the crowd if they wanted to pack it in for the night and have the band repeat the whole concert the next night indoors. The fans voted overwhelmingly to keep going. There was concern of electrical injury to the band, but they kept playing.

Gets Married - lyric writer Alan Jay Lerner (62) marries Liz Robertson (26). It’s his eighth marriage. They met two years ago when she played the lead role in the London revival of “My Fair Lady.”


Top pop hit music singles(top-40) – August 20, 1981

Endless Love - Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

Queen of Hearts - Juice Newton

Slow Hand - The Pointer Sisters

Theme From “The Greatest  American Hero” - Joey Scarbury

The Stroke - Billy Squier

Jessie’s Girl - Rick Springfield

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around - Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I Don’t Need You - Kenny Rogers

Urgent - Foreigner

There’s No Gettin’ Over Me - Ronnie Milsap

Boy From New York City - The Manhattan Transfer

Lady (You Bring Me Up) - Commodores

It’s Now Or Never - John Schneider

Time - The Alan Parsons Project

Touch Me When We’re Dancing - The Carpenters

Fire and Ice - Pat Benatar

Jessie’s Girl - Rick Springfield

Hearts - Marty Balin

In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins

Feels So Right - Alabama

You’re My Girl - Frankie & The Knockouts

Double Dutch Bus - Frankie Smith

Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through - Jim Steinman


Top Music Albums – August 20, 1981

 4 - Foreigner

Escape - Journey

Long Distance Voyager - Moody Blues

Don’t Say No - Billy Squier

Bella Donna - Stevie Nicks

Precious Time - Pat Benatar

Street Songs - Rick James

The One That You Love - Air Supply

Share Your Love - Kenny Rogers

Working Class Dog - Rick Springfield

The Turn Of A Friendly Card - The Alan Parsons Project

A Woman Needs Love - Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

 The One That You Love - Air Supply

Love All The Hurt Away - Aretha Franklin

Hot! Live and Otherwise - Dionne Warwick

Mistaken Identity - Kim Carnes

Dedication - Gary U.S. Bonds

Sheena Easton -  Sheena Easton

Balin - Marty Balin

Soundtrack - For Your Eyes Only

Wild West - Dottie West

Killers - Iron Maiden

As Far As Siam - red Rider

Juice - Juice Newton

The Complete Backward Principle - The Tubes


Top movies – August 20, 1981

Superman II - Alexander Salkind, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York, Terence Stamp

The Empire Strikes Back - Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels

Chu Chu And The Philly Flash - Alan Arkin, Carol Burnett, Jack Warden, Ruth Buzzi

Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Harrison Ford

Arthur - Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli

An Eye For An Eye - Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee, Richard Roundtree, Mako, Matt Clark

First Monday In October - Walter Matthau, Jill Clayburgh, Barnard Hughs, Jan Sterling, James Stephens

An American Werewolf In London - David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine

Honky Tonk Freeway - Beau Bridges, Hum Cronyn, Beverly d’Angelo, William Devane, George Dzundza, Teri Garr, Joe Grifasi, Howard Hessman, Paul Jabara, Geraldine Page, Jessica Tandy

Deadly Blessing - Ernest Borgnine

Under The Rainbow - Chevy Chase

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