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The Top 20 Pop Culture Icons of the '80s Part 2 (11-20)
Remember, the list is going by first name alphabetical order.
11. Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox was a television and movie star in the 1980s. His breakout role, was on the sitcom, "Family Ties." He played, Alex Keaton and was the oldest of three children. He was the star of the show. During the show's run from 1982-89, Fox won three Emmy Awards. In 1985, Fox instantly became a movie star with the release of, "Back to the Future." The movie was a big hit, grossing over $300 million dollars. The sequel followed, in 1989. Fox also starred in, "Teen Wolf", "The Secret of My Success", "Bright Lights, Big City", and finished the decade with "Casualties of War", in 1989. To say the '80s were big for Michael J. Fox, would be an understatement.
12. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, was arguably the biggest star of the 1980s, in any genre. He became a world wide mega star, following the release of the biggest selling album of all time, "Thriller", released in 1982. The album would go on to sell over 35 million copies! Jackson revolutionized the music video. His "Thriller" video, was an 11 minute small film. In 1987, Jackson released the follow up album, "Bad." The album had five number 1 singles on the Billboard Top 100 chart. It would sell over 20 million copies, solidifying Jackson as the top selling artist of the decade. In terms of overall popularity, Michael Jackson was the king of the '80s.
13. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson, became the youngest world heavyweight boxing champion in 1986 at the age of 20.
With his ferocious fighting style he instantly became a fan favorite and the biggest draw in sports in the mid to late '80s. Tyson would come to the ring in black trunks, black boots, no socks and a cut out towel over his head. Most of his fights lasted less than four rounds. While other bouts lasted less than one! He brought an excitement back to the heavyweight division that had been missing since the retirement of Muhammad Ali. His crowning achievement was in 1988, when he knocked out the then undefeated, Michael Spinks in 91 seconds! In the late '80s, no athlete was as popular as Iron Mike.
14. Mr. T
Mr. T, was one of the most interesting characters of the '80s. Sporting his trademark mohawk and gold chains, he burst on the scene in 1982 and his impact was felt immediately. He became a star when he played, "Clubber" Lang, in "Rocky lll", with Sylvester Stallone. He almost stole the show from Stallone. The success of the film, led Mr. T to star in his own television series, "The A-Team." An instant hit, the show made Mr. T a household name. Mr. T merchandise began to fly off the shelves. With his charisma and signature catchphrases, "Hey Fool!" and "I pity the fool!", Mr. T is an unforgettable 1980s icon.
15. Oprah Winfrey
Who knew that this Mississippi native wold take the country by storm with her daytime talk show? Before her talk show became a national hit, Winfrey was a local anchor woman in Nashville, Tennessee. An aspiring actress, Oprah was nominated for an Academy Award, for her role in "The Color Purple." After relocating to Chicago and taking her show national, as they say the rest is history. The show rose in popularity quickly, surpassing Phil Donahue's show. Viewers fell in love with Winfrey's personality, interviews, and supported her weight loss efforts. Before the decade was done, she was by far the most popular daytime talk show host of the '80s and possibly ever.
16. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan, was the 40th President of The United States. The former governor of California, defeated the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter in 1980. A conservative, Reagan believed in less government and more on self reliance and independence. A popular President, even among Democrats, he easily won his bid for a second term in 1984 against Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, in a landslide. He won 49 states, while Mondale was only victorious in one state! During his two terms, he was able to reduce inflation and unemployment. His wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan, was instrumental in the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign. Leading the United States from 1981-1989, makes President Regan as iconic to the decade as anyone else.
17. Sylvester Stallone
Rocky or Rambo, take your pick. Sylvester Stallone was arguably the greatest action film star of the '80s. Though his "Rocky" franchise began in the 1970s, the two releases in the '80s, "Rocky lll" and "Rocky IV", were very successful at the box office. He began another iconic franchise in the decade as well. In 1982, "Rambo: First Blood", was released to critical and commercial success. He would star in two more "Rambo" sequels during the decade. His other '80s films included, "Nighthawks, "Rhinestone", "Cobra", "Over the Top", and closing out with "Tango & Cash" in 1989. No matter the role, "The Italian Stallion", was as consistent as any star in the '80s.
18. Tom Cruise
Equipped with good looks and star power to match,Tom Cruise, began his iconic rise to stardom in 1983's, "Risky Business." Who hasn't saw or even imitated that classic scene of Cruise dancing in his underwear and socks? He also had a major role that same year in, "The Outsiders." Cruise became a huge star and major box office draw with "Top Gun", released in 1986. The film would eventually gross well over $300 million dollars. That same year, he was paired with the legendary, Paul Newman, in "The Color of Money." "Cocktail" would follow in 1988. His last two films of the decade, "Rain Man" and "Born on the Fourth of July" would further cement his status as an 1980s icon.
19. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky was easily the greatest ice hockey player of the 1980s. While playing for the Edmonton Oilers, from 1979-1988, he virtually rewrote the record books. In his rookie season, he took home the Most Valuable Player award. He led the league in assists and goals scored for several straight seasons. In 1982, Gretzky, was the first hockey player to win the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year award. That same year he also was named Sports Illustrated's, "Sportsman of the Year." With the Oilers he won five championships in seven years, before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, where the legend continued. With his only rival being Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky was arguably the greatest athlete of the '80s.
20. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston, was easily the greatest r&b and pop vocalist of the 1980s. She was only second to Madonna, in terms of overall popularity. Her debut album, "Whitney Houston", released in 1985 was a smash and had a remarkable 14 week run atop the Billboard 200 chart. The album fueled by a then record three number one singles stayed on the charts through the following year. It would become the top selling album in 1986! Houston won several Grammy's and American Music Awards. This would only set the tone for an amazing run well into the 1990s. Her version of "The Greatest Love of All", is an American standard. In an era dominated mostly by male acts, Whitney Houston, made a lasting impression in the decade of the '80s.
Bill Murray, Kirk Cameron, Janet Jackson, Prince, Carl Lewis, Joe Montana, The Police, Van Halen, Cyndi Lauper, Larry Hagman, Tina Turner, Tom Hanks, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Sugar Ray Leonard, Run DMC, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Willis, Michael Jordan and Teddy Ruxpin.
USA for Africa
Led by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, some of the greatest singers of the decade gathered together, to sing "We Are the World." It was the biggest selling single of the '80s and the proceeds went to the poor and hungry people in South Africa.