Home Decades 1980s 1987



02 – Ideological purity has reached the superficially cosy world of the nursery. In an attempt to excise any taint of racism, all new editions of Enid Blyton’s Noddy books will be shorn of the traditional black golliwogs, who will be replaced by neutral gnomes. Traditionalist are appalled and claim that such “sanitisation” will destroy many classics.

05 – Genetic fingerprinting is used for the first time in a criminal investigation in Leicester, UK.

21 – Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy, is kidnapped by a terrorist group in Beirut, Lebanon. Waite was in Beirut to negotiate for the release of other kidnap victims.

24 – 162 police and 33 demonstrators are injured in violent riots outside Rupert Murdoch’s News International printing plant at Wapping, UK.


02 – In a referendum in the Philippines, 81% approve a new US-style constitution.

04 – Stars & Stripes wins back the Americas Cup for USA.

04 – Liberace dies of AIDS (b. 16 May 1919).

22 – US pop artist Andy Warhol dies in New York aged 56, after routine gall bladder surgery.

22 – A force of around 7,000 Syrian troops enters West Beirut in an effort to end fighting between Muslim and Druse forces.

26 – The Tower Commission investigating US arms sales to Iran criticises senior White House staff.


03 – American screen star Danny Kaye dies in Los Angeles.

04 – In a televised address, President Reagan takes “full responsibility” for the Iran-Contra Affair, but stops short of admitting that the plan was wrong.

1987ferry06 – Two hundred cross-channel passengers are feared dead after a car ferry capsized in the bitterly cold waters off Zeebrugge. The Herald of Free Enterprise, belonging to the Townsend Thoresen company, rolled over and sank a mile outside the Belgian port (pictured at right). First indications are that the bow doors were open, allowing water to pour into the car deck.

11 – Four New Jersey high school dropouts die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning in an apparent suicide.

19 – Evangelist Jim Bakker resigns as head of the PTL Club following revelations of sexual encounters with church secretary Jessica Hahn.

20 – The Australian Federal government approves the use of AZT (azido-thymidine) on AIDS patients, although the drug is criticised by some for its expense ($10,000 per year per patient) and its many side effects.

27 – Irish band U2 film a music video for the song Where the Streets Have No Name on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, California. The video shoot is shut down by police due to security concerns.

29 – Crocodile kills US model in Northern Australia.

30 – A Japanese insurance company buys Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for $53.9 million – The highest price ever paid for a painting.


02 – Jazz drummer Buddy Rich dies of a brain tumour, aged 69.

14 – Mikhail Gorbachev announces that the USSR is prepared to remove short-range missiles from Eastern Europe.


04 – Australian Supreme Court rules that Rotary Clubs must admit women.

04 – Blues bandleader Paul Butterfield dies of a drug overdose at the age of 44.

06 – In the South African general election, the ruling National Party wins an overwhelming victory.

08 – The Presidential hopes of the former Senator Gary Hart are ended after one of the shortest campaigns in history. He announced that he was withdrawing from the campaign, in which he was the Democratic frontrunner, after newspaper exposure of his relationship with Donna Rice, a 29-year-old model. The Miami Herald reported that Hart, who is married, saw Miss Rice on a yacht called Monkey Business, and spent the night with her in Washington. Hart said that the press should ignore candidates’ private lives.

12 – Australian crime boss Robert Trimbole dies in Spain.

14 – Actress Rita Hayworth dies at the New York home of her daughter, Yasmin. For a number of years, Hayworth had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

17 – Iraqi Exocet missiles blast US frigate USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 crew. Iraq apologises for the incident, insisting that the missiles were fired by mistake.

28 – 19-year-old West German, Matthias Rust, lands a Cessna next to the Kremlin in Red Square, Moscow.


02 – Australian Chamberlains are pardoned over baby Azaria death.

09 – Neil Kinnock says of Margaret Thatcher: “She only went to Venice because somebody told her she could walk down the middle of the street”.

11 – Margaret Thatcher wins record third term as British PM.

17 – Five Sydney (Australia) men are found guilty of the abduction, robbery, sexual assault and murder of a 26-year-old nursing sister, Anita Cobby, who was raped and tortured for two hours and then murdered after being dragged into a car as she walked to her parents home in the suburb of Blacktown. The court heard that the three men had been on a binge of beer and marijuana before they grabbed Miss Cobby and took her to a paddock. One of the men, John Travers, aged 19, realised that Miss Cobby had heard his name as he raped her and that she could identify him by a teardrop tattoo under his eye. Travers slashed her throat and left her to die.

22 – Dancer and actor Fred Astaire (b. 10 May 1899) dies at home in Los Angeles at age of 88.


4 – Klaus Barbie, 73, Gestapo wartime chief in Lyon, sentenced to life imprisonment by French court for war crimes.

11 – Australian PM Bob Hawke back for record third term.

17 – President Reagan‘s National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral John Poindexter tells Congress he authorised the diversion of money from arms sales to Iran to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. “The buck stops with me” he said. Earlier, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Poindexter’s assistant, had said he assumed but did not know, that the president knew of the diversion.

20 – UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution calling on Iran and Iraq to implement a ceasefire.

22 – US warships begin escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf to protect them from Iranian attacks.

26 – Irish cyclist Stephen Roche wins the Tour de France.


01 – Dave Stewart of Eurythmics marries Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama.

01 – MTV Europe is launched.

09 – A youth armed with an automatic rifle and a pump-action shotgun kills six people and wounds 10 others when he takes random shots at traffic on Hoddle Street, Clifton Hill, a major inner suburban road in Melbourne (Australia). Police arrest the gunman in a nearby street about half an hour after the shootings began at 9:50 pm. They say Julian Knight, 19, had been in the armed services and it is believed he had been drinking before the shootings. None of the dead knew their killer.

16 – A plane crashes into the highway near Detroit Metropolitan Airport in the US killing 156 people. A four-year-old girl is the sole survivor of the accident, which is caused by pilot error.

17 – Hitler’s former deputy Rudolf Hess dies at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. Hess was said to have strangled himself with electrical wire but this claim is disputed by his relatives. Hess was imprisoned during WWII and had spent 41 years behind bars at Spandau.

19 – Michael Ryan, 27, goes on a shooting rampage in Hungerford, Berkshire, leaving 14 dead and 15 wounded. Eventually, Ryan turned his gun on himself.

23 – An escaped drug addict who shot a policeman is apprehended and killed by police at a Grateful Dead concert celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the ‘Summer of Love‘.

28 – US Film director John Huston dies.

29 – American actor Lee Marvin dies in Arizona.


11 – Peter Tosh, guitarist and founding member of The Wailers, is shot and killed by burglars at his home in Jamaica a month before his 43rd birthday.

21 – US helicopters intercept an Iranian ship caught laying mines in the Persian Gulf.


01 – An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter Scale strikes Los Angeles, leaving over 100 injured and eight people dead.

06 – Fiji becomes a republic after two successive bloodless coups.

16 – Yesterday evening a viewer called the BBC and asked the weatherman if there was going to be a hurricane. He laughed off the suggestion.

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Within hours, south-east England was being battered by winds gusting up to 110mph causing greater havoc than any other storm this century. The storm kills at least 17 people and leaves a £300 million trail of destruction from Cornwall to East Anglia. Sevenoaks in Kent loses six of the oaks giving it its name.


16 – Jessica McClure is rescued after being stuck in a well shaft for three days in Midland, Texas.

18 – US destroyers attack Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in retaliation for Iranian attacks on shipping.

19 – Fifty billion pounds, or ten percent, is wiped off the value of publicly-quoted companies in London by a tidal wave of selling that begins when dealers reach their desks at 7 am and never stops. Dubbed ‘Black Monday’, it is the worst day for shares this century. No market escapes the shockwaves and Wall Street also has its worst day ever. The collapse is blamed by analysts variously on the US budget and trade deficits, rising interest rates and computer controlled “programme trading”.


08 – A bomb blast at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland kills 11 people during a Remembrance Day parade. The bomb, hidden in an old, disused school, was planted by the IRA.

08 – Australia wins cricket World Cup for first time.

18 – “Irangate” Congressional report blames President Reagan for widespread corruption in the US government.

19 – Thirty people die in a wooden escalator fire at Kings Cross tube station in London.


08 – Historic INF missile treaty signed with USSR to reduce nuclear arsenals. According to the agreement, 2,611 US and Soviet medium and short-range missiles will be destroyed.

08 – A 22-year-old man armed with a high-powered rifle shoots dead eight people in the Melbourne (Australia) headquarters of Australia Post before leaping to his death from a 10th-floor window. The man, Frank Vitkovic, went to the building in Queen Street, to kill a former friend. The friend escaped, sending Vitkovic on a rampage through the offices. One worker eventually disarmed the man on the 10th floor and struggled with him, but was unable to stop him jumping to his death through a plate glass window.

21 – Nearly 3,000 people die in a ferry disaster in the Philippines

22 – Barred by the International Court of Justice from sending any further arms or military supplies to the Nicaraguan Contras, Reagan authorises $14 million in “non-lethal” Contra aid.

Quote Of The Year

“How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening to use nuclear weapons. And we can’t get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons”.
Martin Amis, Einstein’s Monsters, 1987.