These are some of the major events of 1981:
January 3, 1981 – NFL quarterback Eli Manning is born in New Orleans.
January 20, 1981 – Ronald Reagan is sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. Minutes later, Iran releases 52 Americans held for 444 days, ending the Iran hostage crisis.
January 21, 1981 – The first DeLorean DMC-12 rolls off the production line in Northern Ireland.
January 25, 1981 – The Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV at the Louisiana Superdome.
January 25, 1981 – Singer Alicia Cook (Alicia Keys) is born in New York.
January 31, 1981 – Singer Justin Timberlake is born in Memphis.
February 25, 1981 – “Sailing” wins Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year at the 23rd Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Christopher Cross won Best New Artist.
February 27, 1981 – Singer Josh Groban is born in Los Angeles.
March 6, 1981 – Walter Cronkite signs off the CBS Evening News for the last time, after 19 years.
March 30, 1981 – President Ronald Reagan is shot outside Washington DC by John Hinkley, Jr.
March 31, 1981 – Ordinary People, directed by Robert Redford, wins Best Picture and Best Director at the 53rd Academy Awards.
April 12, 1981 – The Space Shuttle innaugural mission, STS-1, launches the Columbia.
May 6, 1981 – Jerry Seinfeld makes his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
May 13, 1981 – Pope John Paul II is shot as he enters St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
June 5, 1981 – The CDC reports that 5 homosexual men in Los Angeles have a rare form of pneumonia, the first recognized case of AIDS.
June 10, 1981 – 344 students graduate from Green Bay West High School in a ceremony at the Brown County Arena.
July 29, 1981 – Charles, Prince of Wales, weds Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
August 1, 1981 – MTV is launched.
August 5, 1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 air traffic controllers (PATCO) who went on strike two days earlier.
August 24, 1981 – Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the murder of John Lennon.
September 13, 1981 – At the 33rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, CA: Taxi won Outstanding Comedy Series, Hill Street Blues won Outstanding Drama Series, Judd Hirsch won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Taxi), Daniel Travanti won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Hill Street Blues), Isabel Sanford won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (The Jeffersons) and Barbara Babcock won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Hill Street Blues).
September 25, 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as the first female justice on the US Supreme Court.
September 25, 1981 – The Boeing 767 makes its first flight.
September 26, 1981 – Tennis player Serena Williams is born in Saginaw, MI.
October 6, 1981 – Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated during a parade by army members who opposed his negotiations with Israel.
November 12, 1981 – The Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off on its second mission, STS-2.
November 16, 1981 – Luke and Laura marry on the soap opera, General Hospital, in the highest rated hour in daytime TV history.
November 23, 1981 – President Ronald Reagan signs the top secret directive authorizing the CIA to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
November 26, 1981 – Singer Natasha Bedingfield is born in Surrey, England.
November 29, 1981 – Hollywood actress Natalie Wood, 43, drowns mysteriously at Catalina Island, CA.
December 2, 1981 – Singer Britney Spears is born in McComb, MS.
December 11, 1981 – In his last fight, Muhammad Ali loses to Trevor Berbick.
December 28, 1981 – The first American test tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, is born in Norfolk, VA.