Happy 90th Birthday Bob Barker!

English: I took this picture of Bob Barker at ...

It was great to see Bob Barker on The Price is Right today! It’s hard to believe he is 90 – he looked as dapper as ever, and did an excellent job both as host and announcer (for the first time ever). His birthday luck was transferred to the contestant he invited to “come on down” – she won a car and spun the wheel to get $1.00 (winning the elusive $1,000 prize).

I haven’t watched this show in years, but many of the games were the same that I remember from my childhood. Wondering how much the prices may have changed since then, I checked ThePeopleHistory.com for some common prices in 1980:

Ground Beef Lb $1.39
Pontiac Firebird $5,992
Men’s Casual Shirt $14.00
Magnavox VHS Recorder $699
VHS Home Movie Camera $1,599
Tomy Cosmic Combat Electronic Game $28.99
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head $4.77
LCD Pendant Watch $34.95

To give you an idea of what those prices translate to in today’s currency, I found a conversion rate of 2.9. So, that state-of-the-art VHS recorder would cost approximately $2,027 in today’s money. You can now pick one up for about $15. Whether or not you can still find VHS tapes is another story.

Thanks for the memories, Bob!

…and remember to spay or neuter your pet. If you’re looking for a pet, please consider adoption from your local shelter!

 

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Nov 5, 1986 – “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” is Released in the US.

Touch Me (I Want Your Body)

Touch Me (I Want Your Body) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before November 5, 1986, no one I knew had a clue what a “Page 3 Girl” was, but we sure learned quickly. Samantha Fox, who had appeared topless a few years earlier in The Sun’s infamous “Page 3”, released “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” in the U.S.

Long before Miley started twerking or Shakira’s hips weren’t lying, and even before Baby learned Dirty Dancing, Samantha seduced. “Touch Me” shot to the top of the charts, no doubt thrust by the video. The clip is pure 80’s, in sound and appearance. The song opens with a strong drum beat, followed by heavy doses of keyboard gimmicks and guitar licks. Our fair maiden is dressed in the requisite costume:

  • Black leather ankle-length granny boots
  • strategically ripped jeans
  • Black leather belt with asymmetrical silver buckle
  • Tight black tank
  • Acid-washed denim jacket with shoulder pads, accented by silver zippers and danglies (collar turned up and sleeves rolled up, of course)
  • Black leather fingerless glove (one hand only) and silver-studded black leather bracelets
  • Heavy makeup
  • Big hair

Her band also sported such classic fashions as black-on-black outfits, silver bolo tie, a black fringed jacket (I had almost the same version, but mine had zebra stripes as an accent around the collar), and most importantly – a mullet. Even the fan that climbs on stage (who I swear is Howard Jones’ doppelganger) is dressed like totally awesomely.

The video itself is true to the decade, with the slow-motion takes, a splash of black and white film, wind blowing through Fox’s feathered hair, choreographed dancing with the band and the audience, and finally, Fox’s Tarzan-like swing over the crowd. Click here to rewind back to 1986 and watch for yourself.

…and, if you are so inclined, click here to check out Ms. Fox singing a duet of “Call Me” with Sabrina in (gasp!) 2010 in Saint Petersburg’s Ice Palace.  Skip to 2:28 to see Samantha’s entrance. You will probably not be surprised to see that she is wearing a fingerless black glove (one hand only) and distressed shorts with a rhinestone-studded black belt. In fact, I think these may be the same pants from the “Touch Me” video (minus the legs that were practically ripped off already).

Sep 22, 1985 – Farm Aid Premier

Farm Aid

Farm Aid first took the stage 28 years ago today, in Champaign, Illinois. During a year famous for raising funds through music, via Live Aid and We Are the World campaigns, Farm Aid was organized to help American Farmers.  According to the History Channel’s website, Bob Dylan first thought of the concept during Live Aid. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp developed the idea into a hugely successful series of concerts. In addition to the organizers, the premier concert featured diverse artists including: Bob Dylan, Hoyt Axton, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Joni Mitchell, Charley Pride, and Sammy Hagar (History.com).

To be honest, I didn’t watch this initial concert. Being a total New-Waver, I had a rather strict code to uphold. However, I did make a donation to support the cause. According to FarmAid.com, this first concert raised more than $9 million. Since then, the annual concerts and related efforts have raised over $43 million towards their mission to keep family farmers on their land. Wikipedia offers a year-by-year list of performers, from the 1985 concert through the 2013 concert held September 21st in Saratoga Springs, New York. Visit Farm Aid’s website to learn more about their history and future plans, watch videos, shop for concert gear, or make a donation.

Sep 21, 1985 – George Clooney Debuts as George Burnett on the Facts of Life

The Facts of Life (TV series)

The Facts of Life (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Facts of Life – I can hear the theme song now…“you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life…“. On September 21, 1985, George Clooney made his debut as hunky carpenter George Burnett.

In case you forgot some of the facts of the “Facts of Life”, after many of the girls graduated from Eastland School (after all, Lisa Whelchel, the actress who played Blair was 22 by then) Mrs. Garrett had started her own business. Of course, the girls helped, and all was right with the world…until fire destroyed “Edna’s Edibles”. We viewers were left hanging until the new season began to learn the fate of Mrs. G and the girls. As is usually true in sitcomland, everything worked out just fine. Mrs. G and the girls regrouped and opened the hip “Over Our Heads”.

To transform the charred remains into the pop shop, the group needed the services (ahem) of George Burnett. His good looks (which were lost on me at the time, probably due to my pending engagement to Simon Le Bon….well, very nearly) and skills with wood caused quite a stir. He is credited on IMDB as appearing in 17 episodes, just short of his 18-episode run on E/R (not to be confused with his later stint on ER) the year before. Just a bit more trivia about the “Facts of Life”: it was a spin-off from “Diff’rent Strokes”, and among its many stars, the “Facts of LIfe” featured Molly Ringwald and Cloris Leachman (IMDB).

Sep 19, 1983 – Vanessa Williams Crowned Miss America

English: Vanessa Williams

On this day in 1983, Vanessa Williams (representing New York) won the Miss America crown. Her talent and beauty outshone her obvious handicap – the giant tulle pouf that sprang from her evening gown and swallowed her shoulder. The following year, she was forced to step down due to a scandal involving photos that apparently violated the pristine nature of the title. All I can say about that is “whatever!” Fortunately, that didn’t stop her from achieving much greater stardom. Williams dazzles as a singer and an actor, and when she combines the two, it’s magical. One of my very favorite holiday movies is “A Diva’s Christmas Carol”. Williams stars as Ebony Scrooge, a pop-star reincarnation of the classic Scrooge character. Of course, I’m not at all prejudiced by the fact that John Taylor (of Duran Duran) also has a part in the film (trashing a hotel room – imagine that!). If you haven’t seen it, you can usually catch it in December on VH1.

Sept 18, 1984 – Three’s A Crowd Debuts

Three's a Crowd

Three’s a Crowd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Ritter, how we miss your comedic genius! Can you believe it has been 10 years since we lost him? Go back a few more decades, and the next generation of “Three’s Company” debuted as “Three’s A Crowd”. Read below for a review from the New York Times about Jack Ripper, his new love Vicky and her reluctant landlord father…

TV REVIEW; RITTER AND A NEW CAST ON ‘THREE’S A CROWD’

By JOHN J. O’CONNOR       Published: September 17, 1984

Last night, the new comedy series called ”E/R” edged its way onto the CBS schedule disguised as an episode of ”The Jeffersons.” Tomorrow at 8, ”Three’s a Crowd” is being launched on ABC as a ”special one-hour” episode of ”Three’s Company.” Scheduling maneuvers are a serious business in television, comedies or not.Actually, ”Three’s a Crowd” is merely an extension of the eight-year- old series ”Three’s Company,” which was based on a British show called ”Man About the House.” From the very beginning, ”Three’s Company” was as simple-minded as it was popular. Looking for an affordable place to live, a young man studying to be a professional cook ends up sharing an apartment with two very attractive young women, something that still wasn’t very commonplace eight years ago.One of the ploys used to allay the suspicions of the landlord and other curious bystanders was the winking intimation that the young man was homosexual. Actually, although he was thoroughly heterosexual, the young man never posed a seduction threat to his roommates. Their relationships remained strictly virginal, but the double entendres kept the one- joke situation bubbling merrily enough to please the fans.

For a while, the series even managed to generate headlines when Suzanne Somers, the blonde roommate, began to take her publicity seriously and decided that she deserved a lot more money than she was receiving for her assorted talents. But ABC simply dropped Miss Somers, replaced her with another blonde and the show went on. Miss Somers had miscalculated badly. The indispensable member of the cast was really John Ritter, playing the part of the young man Jack Tripper. Son of the cowboy star Tex Ritter, he was the one holding the production’s comedy center together. And, not surprisingly, he is the one going as the same character but with an entirely different supporting cast in the new series ”Three’s a Crowd.”

Mr. Ritter is a superbly gifted comic actor, something that may not have been readily apparent in watching any single episode of ”Three’s Company.” For this writer, he became something of a revelation several years ago in a Home Box Office special starring Robin Williams in a nightclub performance. Mr. Williams is a wild, unpredictable performer and not especially easy to work with when in his more manic phases. But spotting Mr. Ritter in the audience, Mr. Williams brought him up to the stage for what looked like spontaneous improvisations. Mr. Ritter not only held his own, he put Mr. Williams alertly on his own twinkle toes.

On ”Three’s Company,” Mr. Ritter’s timing over the years has been impeccable. His double takes, his tripping over furniture and walking into doors, his willingness to make fun of himself and, more than anything else, his sunny disposition have made Jack Tripper and the show remarkably disarming, even in their most inane moments. At the same time, Mr. Ritter has just about completely drained the character of Jack of all its conceivable possiblities. He has made a number of movies, TV and theatrical-release, over the years, but the parts haven’t strayed very far from the essential Jack persona. It would be nice to see him broadening himself in other directions. He has the potential, certainly, for whipping up the kind of sophisticated humor that Cary Grant patented in the 1930’s.

From the initial looks of it, ”Three’s a Crowd” will not provide a vehicle for expansion. Jack, who now is the proprietor of his own bistro, is moving in with a stewardess named Vicky (Mary Cadorette). This time it’s true love and he wants to get married but she, scarred by her parents’ unhappy marriage, insists on just living together. With this contrived premise, the network promises: ”This series will explore, in depth, the problems that beset a young couple living together, compounded by the fact that Vicky is strong and independent while Jack tends to more conventional.” Students of the TV sitcom will relish the ”in depth” note.

Jack and Vicky are living in an apartment over his restaurant, and when the entire building is bought by her father, who is not terribly fond of Jack, the tenant-landlord routine developed in ”Three’s Company” shows every sign of continuing unabated. The father is played by Robert Mandan, a fine comic actor (”Soap”) who works nicely with Mr. Ritter (watch the little bit in which, while crossing their legs during a tense conversation, their feet become entangled). But it’s time for Mr. Ritter to get beyond Jack Ripper. The actor was born in 1948 and today happens to be his birthday. He is getting just a touch too old for the eternal boyishness of Jack. The comic turns are becoming too automatic. The material rewards are certainly substantial – Mr. Ritter is one of the highest-paid sitcom performers in the business – the spectre of fatal staleness is beginning to enter the picture. It would seem the perfect time to move on. In any event, happy birthday Mr. Ritter. Here’s to an even bigger and better future.

via TV REVIEW – RITTER AND A NEW CAST ON ‘THREE’S A CROWD’ – NYTimes.com.

80’s Bullies Reunited – It Doesn’t Get Better

Pull out your hankies – the poor, misguided bullies of the 80’s get together to share their remorse (well, mostly)….

via Yahoo! Screen

Classic bullies – Scut Farkus from “A Christmas Story,” John Kreese from “The Karate Kid,” Big John from “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Donkeylips from “Salute Your Shorts” and Freddy Krueger – remind us that it doesn’t get better for tormenters in this PSA honoring the It Gets Better campaign.

Salute Your Shorts

Cover of "The Karate Kid (Special Edition...

On September 21, 1999, "A Nightmare on El...

A Christmas Story

Aug 1 – Happy Birthday MTV!

Aug 1 1981 – Happy Birthday MTV!

The rocket launched 32 years ago today, playing The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” as its first video (click here to see Wikipedia’s list of the first 206 videos played, for you super trivia buffs). The original VJs included: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Martha Quinn.

Somehow, I survived the epic bummer that cable tv was not available in my hometown yet (and wouldn’t be for some time to come). I had to wait until 1986 to get my MTV. Because of this channel, I developed a temporary bout of insomnia, staying up til all hours watching videos. There was the occasional tv show (The Young Ones – I never missed an episode!), which seemed so strange on a music tv station.

It is interesting to look back at how newspapers heralded the arrival of a concept that would change the face of pop culture (and itself be so completely changed by 2013 that videos are the rarity on the schedule).

In a New York Times article from 7/26/81, Kenneth Gilpin reported that the “video disco channel” was initially expected to “beam into a million homes” during its freshman year. A month before its launch, MTV already had 2.1M subscribers (a single MTV posting showed over 46M likes on FaceBook today!). Despite “television technology used today is not yet capable of recreating high-quality sound”, success was predicted in harnessing the youth market.

This would be accomplished, according to Philip Dougherty’s 6/19/81 NY Times article, by targeting “the big kids, the kind that get turned on by the big rock sound and the weird assemblages that make it.” (…and that was decades before Jersey Shore!). In case you are wondering how much this golden opportunity to advertise might have cost back in the day, Dougherty reported that 30-second units were priced from $400 to $1,200.

Of course, Duran Duran’s influence on the fledgling channel can’t be understated. From DuranDuran.com, the timeline notes in 1981: “Before leaving America, Duran Duran visit with MTV, who had a staff of 16 people at the time. They discuss airing their videos and future programming ideas.” To continue the theme, click here to see the “Too Much Information” video.

..and this post wouldn’t be complete without Dire Straits’ classic MTV ditty:

via Aug 1 – Happy Birthday MTV! | Cheer Du Jour.

Royal Baby Watch – Circa 1982

The Royal Baby watch has reached fever pitch! Look anywhere online, and you will see countless articles that speculate the due date, guess the name, discuss nursery decor, etc., etc. Was it really so long ago we all waited with bated breath to see Prince Charles’ and Princess Diana’s first born (and future heir to the throne)? Turn back the clock to 1982…

MarketWatch.com (of all places!) posted the article below, regarding the announcement of Prince William’s birth on the 21st of June, 1982.

Prince William

Like father, like child. Prince William’s own birth in 1982 was accompanied by intense interest, fired by the global popularity of his mother.

Princess Diana reportedly bluffed the world’s media by announcing William was due on her 21st birthday, July 1. In fact, William Arthur Philip Louis, second in line to the throne, sent media outlets into panic mode by arriving 10 days earlier, on June 21.

The birth itself was revealed shortly before 10 p.m. on a piece of Buckingham Palace–headed letter paper displayed behind the gates of the palace. The notice, propped up on a royal easel, revealed the child had weighed in at a smidge over 7 pounds and that mother and son were doing well.

Two minutes later, a palace spokesman added that the baby had not yet been named but had “cried lustily.” After loud cheers, thousands of well-wishers who were gathered outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, London — where Baby Wales is also due to be born — burst into song: “Nice one, Charlie! Let’s have another one.”

via Six other babies who got a royal welcome – Slide Show – MarketWatch.

From the BBC archives, I found the original announcement of the 7lb 1½oz baby boy:

1982: Princess Diana gives birth to boy

Princess Diana and Prince Charles with Prince William

Diana, Princess of Wales, has given birth to a boy sixteen hours after checking in to St Mary’s Hospital, in London.

The boy, who has been named William, was born at 21:03 BST, weighing 7lb 1½oz.

He is second in line to the British throne after his father the Prince of Wales, who accompanied Princess Diana to the hospital at 0500BST this morning and stayed with her throughout the day.

Outside the hospital crowds had gathered to wait for news of the birth, with some saying they would wait through the night if necessary. Flowers arrived all day long and were taken into the hospital.

Thousands also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, where the birth was formally announced.

The Queen had continued with her scheduled programme, inspecting the RAF regiment on their 40th anniversary at Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

A Palace official said she had looked “absolutely delighted” on hearing that the Princess had gone into labour.

The Princess went into labour earlier than expected, but only by a few days.

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London, Geoffrey Chamberlain, told BBC News the long labour period should not present cause for concern.

He said: “Just over half of women expecting their first baby deliver inside 12 hours but another fifth go onto about 18 hours, and another fifth go even longer.

“There is nothing abnormal with a labour going into 24 hours.”

The Queen’s own surgeon gynaecologist, George Pinker, who has looked after the Princess throughout her pregnancy, was in charge of the delivery.

via BBC ON THIS DAY | 21 | 1982: Princess Diana gives birth to boy.