×

40 Years Ago: 1980 Was Full of ‘Bull,’ ‘Ordinary People’ and the ‘Empire’

Ordinary People 1980
Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

In 1980 Ronald Reagan became president, the Iran-Iraq War broke out and John Lennon was assassinated. That March, Mount St. Helens erupted, killing 57 people and thousands of animals, causing over $1 billion in cumulative damage. In film it was the year of “Raging Bull” and “Ordinary People” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” movies that remain a crucial component of the American cinematic canon. Alan Parker’s “Fame” came out in 1980 and Irene Cara became a star. “Evita” won best musical at the Tonys. Also in 1980, Richard Pryor lit himself on fire while freebasing cocaine and downing 151-proof rum, racing frantically down the street of his Northridge neighborhood engulfed in flames. On the music front, ELO’s “All Over the World” and “All out of Love” by Air Supply climbed to the top of the pop charts. The music variety show “Solid Gold” premiered and “Taxi” won best comedy series at the Emmys. Disco wasn’t exactly dead in 1980, but it was on its way out. On its way in: shoulder pads, laissez-faire capitalism and yuppies. The year was an historic turning point in American culture — the harbinger of what would become the decade of excess and greed, Rubik’s Cube, the continuing freeze of the Cold War and the MTV generation.