Looking Back … 1981

Ronald Reagan (above) is sworn in as the 40th president of the United States. Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, Prince of Wales. The Space Shuttle era begins with the launch of Columbia. The first DeLorean sports car rolls off the production line. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is released in theaters, and MTV debuts on cable. Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes, John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over and Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl rule radio. The Oakland Raiders thump the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV, and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Cartoonist Wally Wood dies in Los Angeles, and reggae singer Bob Marley passes away in Miami.


Keith Haring’s instantly recognizable bold lines, vivid colors and active figures are closely associated with the 1980s. This untitled 1981 acrylic on canvas board sold for $100,000 at a May 2016 Heritage auction.


Richard Avedon is considered by many the most influential fashion photographer of the 20th century. His Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, taken in June 1981, is among fashion’s most iconic images. A 1982 signed and numbered print realized $74,500 at a May 2012 Heritage auction.


STS-1, the first Shuttle mission, blasted off from Florida in April 1981. This flight-suit patch and three other patches worn by mission commander John W. Young realized $56,762.50 at an April 2009 Heritage auction.


In 1981, Frank Miller assumed writing and penciling duties of Marvel’s Daredevil, saving the title from cancellation and making the superhero a fan favorite. The original cover art Miller did that year with Bob Wiacek for Spectacular Spider-Man #56 sold for $83,650 at an August 2014 Heritage auction.