Year
1983

Irene Cara has a #1 pop hit with the Flashdance theme

Irene Cara’s song “Flashdance (What a Feeling)”, from the Flashdance movie soundtrack, goes to the top of the U.S. pop charts on this day in 1983.

“Flashdance (What a Feeling)” was not the first hit song from a movie soundtrack for Irene Cara, whose star was launched by the 1980 film Fame. Cara not only played the starring role of Coco in the movie Fame, but she also recorded not one but two Oscar-nominated songs for it: the title song “Fame” (a top-10 hit in the summer of 1980) and “Out Here On My Own” (a top-20 hit that same fall). By far her biggest impact as a musician, however, would come with her work on the movie Flashdance. Flashdance was the first collaboration between producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and it made extensive use of what would become a signature element of their films: montage sequences set to the tune of original soundtrack music and cut in the style of the then-infant medium of music videos. This incredibly lucrative formula, which was new to the world of feature films in 1983, would later reach its apotheosis with the Simpson-Bruckheimer classic Top Gun (1986). And what Top Gun did for fighter jets, beach volleyball and Kenny Loggins, Flashdance did for blast furnaces, barefoot lobster dinners and Irene Cara. When “Flashdance (What a Feeling),” went to #1, it gave Cara the biggest hit of her career and helped propel the relatively low-budget film from which it came to the #3 spot on the total box-office revenue list for 1983.

Unfortunately for Cara, her next soundtrack hit—”The Dream (Hold Onto Your Dream)” from the Mr. T vehicle D.C. Cab—would not have nearly the same cultural impact as the song that reached the top of the charts on this day in 1983.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Author Maya Angelou dies

On this day in 2014, author and poet Maya Angelou, who published more than 30 books, including 1969’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” a best-selling memoir about the racism and abuse she experienced growing up, dies at 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In ...read more

Ethiopian capital falls to rebels

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, falls to forces of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), formally ending 17 years of Marxist rule in the East African country.In 1974, Haile Selassie, the leader of Ethiopia since 1930, was deposed in a military coup. ...read more

Appeal for Amnesty campaign launches

On this day in 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article “The Forgotten Prisoners” on its front page, launching the Appeal for Amnesty 1961–a campaign calling for the release of all people imprisoned in various parts of the ...read more

U.S. troops abandon “Hamburger Hill”

U.S. troops abandon Ap Bia Mountain. A spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division said that the U.S. troops “have completed their search of the mountain and are now continuing their reconnaissance-in-force mission throughout the A Shau Valley.”This announcement came amid the ...read more

The Virginian is published

Owen Wister’s The Virginian is published by Macmillan Press. It was the first “serious” Western and one of the most influential in the genre.Almost single-handedly, The Virginian turned the American cowboy into a legendary hero. At first glance, author Owen Wister seems an ...read more

Tortilla Flat is published

John Steinbeck’s first successful novel, Tortilla Flat, is published on this day.Steinbeck, a native Californian, had studied writing intermittently at Stanford between 1920 and 1925, but never graduated. He moved to New York and worked as a manual laborer and journalist while ...read more

Comic Phil Hartman killed by wife

On this day in 1998, the comedian and actor Phil Hartman, famous for his work on Saturday Night Live and NewsRadio, is shot to death by his troubled wife, Brynn, in a murder-suicide. He was 49.Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985). Along with Reubens, Hartman had helped create the zany ...read more

Mine explosion kills hundreds in India

Methane gas causes a mine explosion near Dharbad, India, that kills 375 people and injures hundreds more on this day in 1965. The blast was so powerful that even workers on the surface of the mine were killed.The mine was located 225 miles northwest of Calcutta near the town of ...read more

Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square

Matthias Rust, a 19-year-old amateur pilot from West Germany, takes off from Helsinki, Finland, travels through more than 400 miles of Soviet airspace, and lands his small Cessna aircraft in Red Square by the Kremlin. The event proved to be an immense embarrassment to the Soviet ...read more

African-American regiment departs for combat

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the most famous African-American regiment of the war, leaves Boston for combat in the South. For the first two years of the war, President Abraham Lincoln resisted the use of black troops despite the pleas of men such as Frederick Douglass, who ...read more

Volkswagen is founded

On this day in 1937, the government of Germany–then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party–forms a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed ...read more

U.S. troops score victory at Cantigny

In the first sustained American offensive of World War I, an Allied force including a full brigade of nearly 4,000 United States soldiers captures the village of Cantigny, on the Somme River in France, from their German enemy. Though the United States formally entered World War I ...read more