1987 - Your complete When It Was Cool Guide to the year 1987 in pop-culture, music, movies, television, and more.

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

I turned sixteen years old in 1987 so obviously it has a special place in my heart.  Be sure to check out our other "Year in Review" guides to the greatest years of When It Was Cool retro pop-culture- 1983.  But please remember, we need your help to keep our website going so consider helping us out on Patreon.

10 Major Events that Happened in 1987:


January 3, 1987:  Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The legendary soul singer is known for such hits as Respect, Chain of Fools, Think, Freeway of Love, and many others.

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January 25, 1987:  NFL Super Bowl XXI was between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants was played on January 25, 1987. The Giants defeated the Broncos by the score of 39–20, winning their first ever Super Bowl, and their first NFL title since 1956.


February 15, 1987: The 1987 Daytona 500, the 29th running of the event, was held at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida with Bill Elliott winning the pole and the race.


March 9, 1987:  U2 release the smash hit album Joshua Tree which takes their already rising status to a whole new level and making U2 one of the biggest bands of all time.  The album contained such smash hits as Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, With or Without You, and One Tree Hill.  The album has sold over 25 million copies.

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March 29, 1987: WWF (now WWE) holds it's biggest event to date- WrestleMania 3 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan headlined by Hulk Hogan retaining the WWF championship over Andre the Giant in front of a recorded breaking crown of around 78,000 though historically the number has been claimed to be 93,173.


April 19, 1987:  The Simpsons debut as an animated short on the FOX Prime Time show The Tracey Ullman Show.  The characters appeared in that series for three seasons then were spun into their own series which continues to run to this day.

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June 12, 1987:  Ronald Reagan makes the famous plea to the USSR and leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall", speaking of the Berlin Wall which did come down in 1989.


August 31, 1987:  Michael Jackson releases the hit album Bad. It was the follow up to the mega-hit album Thriller which made Michael Jackson one of the biggest pop stars of all time.  Among the hits on the album were the title track Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, and Smooth Criminal.  The album has sold over 65 million copies.

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October 14-16, 1987:  The baby Jessica McClure rescue saga unfolded from Midland, Texas where at the age of 18 months she fell down a well and was trapped.  Rescuers worked for 58 hours straight in order to rescue the child in an event that aired heavily on television across the United States.


October 25, 1987:  The 1987 World Series was the 84th Major League Baseball's championship series. It was a best-of-seven playoff played between the American League (AL) champion Minnesota Twins and the National League (NL) champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Twins defeated the Cardinals four games to three to win the Series. Twins pitcher Frank Viola was named as the 1987 World Series MVP.


The Billboard Top 100 Songs of 1987

1    "Walk Like an Egyptian"- The Bangles
2    "Alone"- Heart
3    "Shake You Down"- Gregory Abbott
4    "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)"- Whitney Houston
5    "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"- Starship
6    "C'est La Vie"- Robbie Nevil
7    "Here I Go Again"- Whitesnake
8    "The Way It Is" - Bruce Hornsby and the Range
9    "Shakedown"- Bob Seger
10    "Livin' on a Prayer"- Bon Jovi
11    "La Bamba"- Los Lobos
12    "Everybody Have Fun Tonight"- Wang Chung
13    "Don't Dream It's Over"- Crowded House
14    "Always"- Atlantic Starr
15    "With or Without You"- U2
16    "Looking for a New Love"- Jody Watley
17    "Head to Toe"- Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
18    "I Think We're Alone Now"- Tiffany
19    "Mony Mony"- Billy Idol
20    "At This Moment"- Billy Vera and the Beaters
21    "The Lady in Red"- Chris de Burgh
22    "Didn't We Almost Have It All"- Whitney Houston
23    "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"- U2
24    "I Want Your Sex"- George Michael
25    "Notorious"- Duran Duran
26    "Only in My Dreams"- Debbie Gibson
27    "(I've Had) The Time of My Life"- Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
28    "The Next Time I Fall"- Peter Cetera and Amy Grant
29    "Lean on Me"- Club Nouveau
30    "Open Your Heart"- Madonna
31    "Lost in Emotion"- Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
32    "(I Just) Died In Your Arms"- Cutting Crew
33    "Heart and Soul"- T'Pau
34    "You Keep Me Hangin' On"- Kim Wilde
35    "Keep Your Hands to Yourself"- Georgia Satellites
36    "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"- Aretha Franklin and George Michael
37    "Control"- Janet Jackson
38    "U Got the Look"- Prince
39    "Somewhere Out There"- Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
40    "Land of Confusion"- Genesis
41    "Jacob's Ladder"- Huey Lewis and the News
42    "Who's That Girl"- Madonna
43    "You Got It All"- The Jets
44    "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)"- Samantha Fox
45    "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"- Michael Jackson with Siedah Garrett
46    "Causing a Commotion"- Madonna
47    "In Too Deep"- Genesis
48    "Let's Wait Awhile"- Janet Jackson
49    "Hip to Be Square"- Huey Lewis and the News
50    "Will You Still Love Me?"- Chicago
51    "Little Lies"- Fleetwood Mac
52    "Luka"- Suzanne Vega
53    "I Heard A Rumour"- Bananarama
54    "Don't Mean Nothing"- Richard Marx
55    "Songbird"- Kenny G
56    "Carrie"- Europe
57    "Don't Disturb This Groove"- The System
58    "La Isla Bonita"- Madonna
59    "Bad"- Michael Jackson
60    "Sign o' the Times"- Prince
61    "Change of Heart"- Cyndi Lauper
62    "Come Go with Me" - Exposé
63    "Can't We Try"- Dan Hill featuring Vonda Shepard
64    "To Be a Lover"- Billy Idol
65    "Mandolin Rain"- Bruce Hornsby and the Range
66    "Breakout"- Swing Out Sister
67    "Stand by Me"- Ben E. King
68    "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"- Genesis
69    "Someday"- Glass Tiger
70    "When Smokey Sings"- ABC
71    "Casanova"- LeVert
72    "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You"- Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
73    "Rock Steady"- The Whispers
74    "Wanted Dead or Alive"- Bon Jovi
75    "Big Time"- Peter Gabriel
76    "The Finer Things"- Steve Winwood
77    "Let Me Be the One"- Exposé
78    "Is This Love"- Survivor
79    "Diamonds"- Herb Alpert
80    "Point of No Return"- Exposé
81    "Big Love"- Fleetwood Mac
82    "Midnight Blue"- Lou Gramm
83    "Something So Strong"- Crowded House
84    "Heat of the Night"- Bryan Adams
85    "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You"- Glenn Medeiros
86    "Brilliant Disguise"- Bruce Springsteen
87    "Just to See Her"- Smokey Robinson
88    "Who Will You Run To"- Heart
89    "Respect Yourself"- Bruce Willis
90    "Cross My Broken Heart"- The Jets
91    "Victory"- Kool & the Gang
92    "Don't Get Me Wrong"- The Pretenders
93    "Doing It All for My Baby"- Huey Lewis and the News
94    "Right on Track"- Breakfast Club
95    "Ballerina Girl"- Lionel Richie
96    "Meet Me Half Way"- Kenny Loggins
97    "I've Been in Love Before"- Cutting Crew
98    "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)"- Beastie Boys
99    "Funkytown"- Pseudo Echo
100    "Love You Down"- Ready for the World

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The great country music legend George Strait scored several top country music songs in 1987 including Ocean Front Property, All My Ex's Live in Texas, and Am I Blue.

Guns N' Roses iconic album Appetite for Destruction is released.  The album contained such classic rock staples as Welcome to the Jungle, Mr. Brownstone, Paradise City, and Sweet Child of Mine.  Check out our When It Was Cool review of Guns N' Roses in concert - here.


Cool Things of 1987


Masters of the Universe Winding Down but Still Awesome: Even though the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line had already seen it's peak, there still was some cool MOTU toys released in 1987.  My personal favorite?  Scareglow! Check out our review of the Masters of the Universe Encyclopedia.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are all the rage: Playmates Toys produced hundreds of TMNT action figures, vehicles, playsets, and more.  The TMNT figures were (and still are) extremely popular and collectible.  TMNT ranks alongside Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, and G.I. Joe as one of the all time most successful multi-genre toys properties ever.

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These dang things: Seriously... What the heck?  California Raisins.  Anyway... 


Kenner toys: Kenner would be absorbed by Hasbro in 2000 but from 1946 until 2000 Kenner made some amazing stuff and 1987 was no different.  Just look at the fantastic toys Kenner released in 1987- Ghostbusters, Centurions (I really want that action figure shown in the ad!), MASK, Silver Hawks, Chuck Norris (!), Sky Commandos, and the ever classic Play-Doh.  Where would childhoods have been without the wonderful world of Kenner?

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Top 10 Movies of 1987: As Ranked by IMDB.

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1. The Princess Bride
While home sick in bed, a young boy's grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.. Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Andre the Giant. Gross: $30.86M

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2. Full Metal Jacket
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.. Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Baldwin. Gross: $46.36M


3. Predator

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior. Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall, Elpidia Carrillo, Jesse Ventura. Gross: $59.74M


4. Dirty Dancing
Spending the summer at a Catskills resort with her family, Frances "Baby" Houseman falls in love with the camp's dance instructor, Johnny Castle.. Director: Emile Ardolino | Stars: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes. Gross: $63.95M


5. Overboard
A cruel but beautiful heiress mocks and cheats over a hired carpenter. When she gets amnesia after an accident, he decides to introduce her to regular life by convincing her they're husband and wife.. Director: Garry Marshall | Stars: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann,Katherine Helmond. Gross: $26.71M


6. Jaws: The Revenge
Chief Brody's widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge.. Director: Joseph Sargent | Stars: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young. Gross: $20.76M


7. Spaceballs
Planet Spaceballs' President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal planet Druidia's abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them.. Director: Mel Brooks | Stars: Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman Gross: $38.12M


8. The Lost Boys
After moving to a new town, two brothers discover that the area is a haven for vampires. Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes. Gross: $32.22M

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9. Lethal Weapon
A veteran policeman, Murtaugh, is partnered with a younger, suicidal officer, Riggs. They both have one thing in common: hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers. Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan. Gross: $65.21M


10. The Untouchables
Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team. - Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Charles Martin Smith. Gross: $76.27M

Other 1987 related When It Was Cool articles:

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