1983 - Your complete When It Was Cool Guide to the year 1983 in pop-culture, music, and more.

By: Karl Stern (@wiwcool)

I turned twelve years old in 1983 so obviously it has a special place in my heart.  This is the first in an on-going series of extensive "Year in Review" guides to the greatest years of When It Was Cool retro pop-culture.  But please remember, we need your help to keep our website going so consider helping us out on Patreon.

Check out our free podcast bonus show looking back at 1983 and be sure to subscribe to the When It Was Cool Podcast!

10 Major Events that Happened in 1983:

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January 30, 1983: The Washington Redskins won their first NFL Super Bowl defeating the Miami Dolphins following a short season due to a players strike. Super Bowl XVII saw the AFC champion Miami Dolphins and the NFC champion Washington Redskins face off following the short 1982 NFL season with only 9 regular games due to the strike. The Redskins defeated the Dolphins by the score of 27–17 to win their first ever Super Bowl championship. The game was played on January 30, 1983 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


February 20, 1983: Cale Yarborough won the 25th Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Florida.


February 28, 1983:  The final episode of M.A.S.H. airs drawing 105.97 million total viewers and a total audience of 121.6 million which was more than both Super Bowl XVII and the successful Roots miniseries. The episode surpassed the single-episode ratings record that had been set by the Dallas episode that resolved the "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger.

Click here to listen to our special MASH podcast review.


March 25, 1983: Motown celebrates its 25th anniversary with a television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, during which Michael Jackson performs "Billie Jean" and introduces the moonwalk.


May 25, 1983:  Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is released in theaters marking the last movie of the original Star Wars trilogy.  The movie trilogies main antagonist, Darth Vader, finds redemption in the end.


September 1, 1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a Soviet Union Air Force fighter near Moneron Island when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace. All 269 on board are killed including U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald causing a significant escalation in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.


September 18, 1983:  The rock band KISS appear for the first time in public without their make up on MTV. Be sure to check out our KISS concert review - here.


October 16, 1983:  Baltimore Orioles Beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1 to win the World series. This was the first World Series since 1956 in which the teams did not use air travel. Baltimore and Philadelphia are approximately 100 miles apart.


October 23, 1983: Beirut barracks bombing: Simultaneous suicide truck-bombings destroy both the French Army and United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. servicemen, 58 French paratroopers and 6 Lebanese civilians.


October 25, 1983:  The Invasion of Grenada was a 1983 United States led invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, which has a population of about 91,000 that resulted in a U.S. victory within a matter of weeks. Codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, it was triggered by the internal strife within the People's Revolutionary Government that resulted in the house arrest and the execution of the previous leader and second Prime minister of Grenada Maurice Bishop. The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984. The country has remained a democratic nation since then.


The Billboard Top 100 Songs of 1983

1.    "Every Breath You Take"- The Police
2.    "Billie Jean"- Michael Jackson
3.    "Flashdance... What a Feeling"- Irene Cara
4.    "Down Under"- Men at Work
5.    "Beat It"- Michael Jackson
6.    "Total Eclipse of the Heart"- Bonnie Tyler
7.    "Maneater"- Hall & Oates
8.    "Baby, Come to Me"- Patti Austin and James Ingram
9.    "Maniac"- Michael Sembello
10.    "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"- Eurythmics
11.    "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me"- Culture Club
12.    "You and I"- Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
13.    "Come On Eileen"- Dexys Midnight Runners
14.    "Shame on the Moon"- Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
15.    "She Works Hard for the Money"- Donna Summer
16.    "Never Gonna Let You Go"- Sérgio Mendes
17.    "Hungry Like the Wolf"- Duran Duran
18.    "Let's Dance"- David Bowie
19.    "Twilight Zone"- Golden Earring
20.    "I Know There's Something Going On"- Frida
21.    "Jeopardy"- The Greg Kihn Band
22.    "Electric Avenue"- Eddy Grant
23.    "She Blinded Me with Science"- Thomas Dolby
24.    "Africa"- Toto
25.    "Little Red Corvette"- Prince
26.    "Back on the Chain Gang"- The Pretenders
27.    "Up Where We Belong"- Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
28.    "Mr. Roboto"- Styx
29.    "You Are"- Lionel Richie
30.    "Der Kommissar"- After the Fire
31.    "Puttin' on the Ritz"- Taco
32.    "Sexual Healing"- Marvin Gaye
33.    "(Keep Feeling) Fascination"- The Human League
34.    "Time (Clock of the Heart)"- Culture Club
35.    "The Safety Dance"- Men Without Hats
36.    "Mickey"- Toni Basil
37.    "You Can't Hurry Love"- Phil Collins
38.    "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)"- Journey
39.    "One on One"- Hall & Oates
40.    "We've Got Tonight"- Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton
41.    "1999"- Prince
42.    "Stray Cat Strut"- Stray Cats
43.    "Allentown"- Billy Joel
44.    "Stand Back"- Stevie Nicks
45.    "Tell Her About It"- Billy Joel
46.    "Always Something There to Remind Me"- Naked Eyes
47.    "Truly"- Lionel Richie
48.    "Dirty Laundry"- Don Henley
49.    "The Girl Is Mine"- Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
50.    "Too Shy"- Kajagoogoo
51.    "Goody Two-Shoes"- Adam Ant
52.    "Rock the Casbah"- The Clash
53.    "Our House"- Madness
54.    "Overkill"- Men at Work
55.    "Is There Something I Should Know?"- Duran Duran
56.    "Gloria"- Laura Branigan
57.    "Affair of the Heart"- Rick Springfield
58.    "She's a Beauty"- The Tubes
59.    "Solitaire"- Laura Branigan
60.    "Don't Let It End"- Styx
61.    "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"- Laura Branigan
62.    "China Girl"- David Bowie
63.    "Come Dancing"- The Kinks
64.    "Promises, Promises"- Naked Eyes
65.    "The Other Guy"- Little River Band
66.    "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"- Air Supply
67.    "Family Man"- Hall & Oates
68.    "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"- Michael Jackson
69.    "I Won't Hold You Back"- Toto
70.    "All Right"- Christopher Cross
71.    "Straight from the Heart"- Bryan Adams
72.    "Heart to Heart"- Kenny Loggins
73.    "My Love"- Lionel Richie
74.    "I'm Still Standing"- Elton John
75.    "Hot Girls in Love"- Loverboy
76.    "It's a Mistake"- Men at Work
77.    "I'll Tumble 4 Ya"- Culture Club
78.    "All This Love"- DeBarge
79.    "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy"- Sammy Hagar
80.    "Heartbreaker"- Dionne Warwick
81.    "Faithfully"- Journey
82.    "Steppin' Out"- Joe Jackson
83.    "Take Me to Heart"- Quarterflash
84.    "(She's) Sexy + 17"- Stray Cats
85.    "Try Again"- Champaign
86.    "Dead Giveaway"- Shalamar
87.    "Lawyers in Love"- Jackson Browne
88.    "What About Me"- Moving Pictures
89.    "Human Nature"- Michael Jackson
90.    "Photograph"- Def Leppard
91.    "Pass the Dutchie"- Musical Youth
92.    "True"- Spandau Ballet
93.    "Far from Over"- Frank Stallone
94.    "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart"- Eric Clapton
95.    "It Might Be You"- Stephen Bishop
96.    "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love"- Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
97.    "You Got Lucky"- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
98.    "Don't Cry"- Asia
99.    "Breaking Us in Two"- Joe Jackson
100.    "Fall in Love with Me"- Earth, Wind & Fire

The great country music legend Don Williams who recently passed away scored two number one hit country music songs in 1983: Love is on a Roll and If Hollywood Don't Need You.


Metallica's Kill 'Em All is released.  The When It Was Cool resident thrash heavy metal expert NoFriender of the NoFriender Thrash Metal Show had this to say about the album, "Metallica's Kill Em All was released on July 25, 1983, which is the BC/AD dividing line for the genre of thrash metal."


Cool Things of 1983

G.I. Joe Swivel Arm Battle Grip feature introduced: The original 1982 wave of G.I. Joe action figures was reintroduced but this time with arms that swiveled allowing them to hold their accessories and weapons better.  This was a major innovation in action figure articulation.  A second wave of G.I. Joe action figures was also released including Gung-Ho, Major Bludd, Destro, and more.

Check out When It Was Cool G.I. Joe Central for more G.I. Joe articles and reviews.

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Atari 5200 Gaming System released: The Atari 5200 SuperSystem was introduced in 1982 and became the primary home video game system in homes during 1983. It was a higher-end complementary console for the popular Atari 2600. The 5200 was created to compete with the Intellivision, but wound up more directly competing with the ColecoVision shortly after its release.


Cabbage Patch Kids become a sensation: Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Xavier Roberts and registered in the United States copyright office in 1978.  Originally Roberts called these hand-stitched, one-of-a-kind, soft fabric sculptures "The Little People". His Little People were not offered for sale, but were "adopted" each with their own individual name and birth certificate and often referred to as "Adoption Dolls". The doll brand went on to become one of the most popular toy fads of the 1980s and one of the longest-running doll franchises in America. The name change to Cabbage Patch Kids was made in 1982 when Xavier's company, Original Appalachian Artworks, began to license a smaller version of the handmade creations to a toy manufacturer named Coleco.

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Hasbro Glo Worm: Glo Worm is a stuffed toy by Hasbro's Playskool division. Introduced in 1982, the plush body contained a battery-powered device that when squeezed would light up the toy's vinyl head from within, creating a soft glow.  The toy, upon release, was such a success that Hasbro released a series of story books, night lights, videos and other merchandise that continued until the early 1990s.


Top 25 Movies of 1983:


1. Scarface
In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed. Director: Brian De Palma - Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Gross: $44.70M

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2. Trading Places
A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires. Director: John Landis - Stars: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche. Gross: $90.40M


3. The Outsiders

The rivalry between two gangs, the poor Greasers and the rich Socs, only heats up when one gang member kills a member of the other. Director: Francis Ford Coppola - Stars: C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze. Gross: $25.60M


4. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy a more powerful Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap. Director: Richard Marquand - Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams. Gross: $309.13M


5. Jaws 3-D
The sons of police chief Brody must protect civilians at a SeaWorld theme park after a 35-foot shark becomes trapped in the park with them. Director: Joe Alves - Stars: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr. Gross: $42.20M


6. Christine
A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it. Director: John Carpenter - Stars: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky. Gross: $21.20M


7. National Lampoon's Vacation
The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated. Director: Harold Ramis - Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid. Gross: $61.40M

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8. Risky Business
A Chicago teenager is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but the situation quickly gets out of hand. Director: Paul Brickman - Stars: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Masur. Gross: $63.50M


9. Cujo
Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town. Director: Lewis Teague - Stars: Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Danny Pintauro, Christopher Stone. Gross: $21.20M


10. The Dead Zone
A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic ability. Director: David Cronenberg - Stars: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom


11. Flashdance
A Pittsburgh woman with two jobs as a welder and an exotic dancer wants to get into ballet school. Director: Adrian Lyne - Stars: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala, Sunny Johnson. Gross: $94.90M


12. WarGames
”Shall we play a game?” A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III. Director: John Badham - Stars: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, John Wood, Dabney Coleman. Gross: $79.57M

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13. Mr. Mom
After he's laid off, a husband switches roles with his wife. She returns to the workforce, and he becomes a stay-at-home dad, a job he has no clue how to do. Director: Stan Dragoti - Stars: Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Frederick Koehler, Taliesin Jaffe. Gross: $64.80M


14. All the Right Moves
A high school football player desperate for a scholarship and his headstrong coach clash in a dying Pennsylvania steel town. Director: Michael Chapman - Stars: Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson, Craig T. Nelson, Charles Cioffi


15. Octopussy
A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent's death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces. Director: John Glen - Stars: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn. Gross: $67.90M


16. Staying Alive
It's five years later and Tony Manero's Saturday Night Fever is still burning. Now he's strutting toward his biggest challenge yet - succeeding as a dancer on the Broadway stage. Director: Sylvester Stallone - Stars: John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes, Steve Inwood. Gross: $63.80M


17. Terms of Endearment
Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter's family problems. Director: James L. Brooks - Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito. Gross: $108.42M


18. Never Say Never Again
A SPECTRE agent has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find their targets before they are detonated. Director: Irvin Kershner - Stars: Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow. Gross: $55.50M


19. Videodrome
When he acquires a different kind of programming for his station, a sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a terrifying new reality. Director: David Cronenberg - Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky

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20. The Right Stuff
The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. Director: Philip Kaufman - Stars: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid. Gross: $21.50M


21. Krull
A prince and a fellowship of companions set out to rescue his bride from a fortress of alien invaders who have arrived on their home planet. Director: Peter Yates - Stars: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annis

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22. The Big Chill
A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends. Director: Lawrence Kasdan - Stars: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt. Gross: $56.40M


23. Class
A young man in private school spends one crazy night out, but soon realizes the woman he hooked up with is not who he expected. Director: Lewis John Carlino - Stars: Jacqueline Bisset, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Cliff Robertson


24. Sleepaway Camp
Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions gets their comeuppance. Director: Robert Hiltzik - Stars: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet


25. Valley Girl
Julie, a girl from the valley, meets Randy, a punk from the city. They are from different worlds and find love. Somehow they need to stay together in spite of her trendy, shallow friends. Director: Martha Coolidge - Stars: Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, Elizabeth Daily, Michael Bowen

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Other 1983 related When It Was Cool articles:

Pro Wrestling fans check out the Ultimate History Pro Wrestling section for every major event to happen in professional wrestling in the year 1983 - Click here.

Review of 1983 Gung-Ho Action Figure (G.I. Joe)

Review of 1983 Stalker Action Figure (G.I. Joe)

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