Dirty Dancing premiered in American theaters thirty-two years ago today on August 21, 1987. The film starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Swayze had been in a few hits like The Outsiders and Red Dawn, but this was this film that took him to superstardom. The film also featured Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes,and Wayne Knight, who later went on to play Newman on Seinfield.
The film was a huge hit earning 214 million dollars at the box office. In 1988, it was the number one video rental of the year. For home video, it was the first film to sell over a million copies.
The soundtrack to the movie was also a major success. It sold over 32 million copies and became one of the biggest selling albums of all time. It spent 18 weeks at #1. The film’s final dance featured the song, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, which hit #1 on the singles and Adult Contemporary chart. It won Best Original Song from The Academy Awards and The Golden Globes. The song also won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The soundtrack contained two other top ten hits, She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze and HungryEyes by Eric Carmen.
Stream or purchase Dirty Dancing (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) via Amazon by clicking on the image below.
The Western had been a major genre for film and television from the earliest days of both their industries up until the first half of the seventies. In fact, by that time, there had already been over one hundred Western TV shows on the airwaves. In 1959 alone, there were 30 Westerns that you could watch during the week. By the late seventies, successful Westerns were few and far between. Hollywood had worn out the genre.
Older Gen Xers might remember when Gunsmoke was still on the air. That classic show ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975. Another show that might have caught the eye of eary Xers was Kung Fu, the legendary Western with a martial arts twist that aired on ABC from 1972 to 1975. While there were still some big Western films made in the first half of the seventies, it could be argued that only The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Shootist, which was John Wayne’s final film, were the only significant classic westerns released in the second half of the seventies.
The eighties kicked off the genre with some major box office bombs such as Heaven’s Gate and The Legend of the Lone Ranger. There were some hits scattered across the decade such as Silverado, Young Guns, The Man from Snowy River and of course the biggest Western of the decade, Pale Rider. The genre really shined on the small screen during the decade in the form of Made for Television Movies and Mini-Series. Some of note are the Kenny Rogers Gambler films on CBS, The five Desperado films on NBC and several CBS films featuring Country music legends such as Wilie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. The biggest hit on TV was the massively successful Mini-Series, Lonesome Dove in 1989.
The success of Lonesome Dove kicked off a bit of a Western resurgence in the first half of the nineties. The decade started off in 1990 with a huge hit in Dances with Wolves. The film earned Kevin Costner an Oscar for best director and it also won the award for best picture. Young Guns 2 was also big at the box office that year. Unforgiven starring Clint Eastwood was a huge hit in 1992 and won the Oscar for best picture. Tombstone became a classic in 1993 and possibly only second to My Darling Clementine from 1946 as the definitive film version of the famous gun battle at the O.K. Corral. Kevin Costner returned to the genre in 1994 with Wyatt Earp, but this version of the O.K. Corral story was not as successful as Tombstone.
TV Westerns continued with a series of Gunsmoke movies and Kenny Rogers returned to play the Gambler two more times. Lonesome Dove had a sequel called Return to Lonesome Dove air in 1993 and that was followed by two syndicated series: Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years.
Our flashback video this week is I’mGonna Be (500 Miles) by the Scottish duo The Proclaimers. The song hit #03 on the American top 40 charts in 1993.
The duo, which is comprised of twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, released the song in 1988 as the lead single off their album Sunshine on Leith. The single hit #11 on the British charts. Five years later the song appeared in the movie Benny and Joon and was re-released all across the world.
In 2007, the Reid Brothers teamed with British comedians Peter Kay and Matt Lucas and re-recorded the song as a charity single for Comic Relief. This version went to #1 in the UK and to #7 in Ireland. It also landed at #8 on the UK year-end charts.
Two years ago today, Adam West passed away at the age of 88. For Gen X, we are too young to remember or were not even born yet when the BATMAN series starring West aired on ABC from 1966 to 1968.
Our generation grew up watching Batman reruns after school on one of our local channels. For many of us, Adam West was our first TV hero. We also watched The New Adventures of Batman on Saturday mornings on CBS in the mid-seventies. This short-lived cartoon featured the voices of West and Burt Ward. They also teamed up for two live-action specials on NBC called Legends of the Superheroes in 1979.
When the feature film Batman came out in 1989, we may have liked Michael Keaton’s performance of the Caped Crusader, but West was still our Batman. Some of us met him and got an autograph at some car show, or Sci-Fi convention in the seventies and eighties.
When the Batman show aired in the nineties on FX and The Family Channel, young Gen X parents introduced the show to their kids. In this current decade, some of us who had kids later in life, and or who have grandchildren introduced the show to our little ones via ME-TV and the IFC Channel or on DVD.
He became a true Pop Culture Icon as we became adults in the nineties. He worked steadily in the last three decades in films and TV, frequently doing voice-overs, most notably as the Mayor on Family Guy.
Since that 1989 film came out there have been four other actors besides Keaton who have put the cowl and cape on. There were also two other actors who played Batman in serials back in the forties. The West version of Batman, the way he looked, his mannerisms, his voice, is still the Iconic image of the Caped Crusader.
William West Anderson (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017), known to the world as Adam West left this world two years ago today. He is stilled missed and will never be forgotten.
Six years after the debut of the first Rocky movie, Rocky III was released during Memorial Day weekend in 1982. The film was hugely successful earning nearly 270 million at the box office. It was the fourth highest grossing movie of 1982.
Even more impressive than the financial success was the several ways that the film contributed to the pop culture of the eighties and to the Gen X era.
Before Rocky III, Mr. T was a bodyguard and bouncer in Chicago. He appeared on NBC’s Games People Play as a contestant for the “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition. He won that event and this is also where he was first noticed by Sylvester Stallone. This lead to him being cast as “Clubber Lang”, Stallone’s opponent in the film. Mr. T.’s famous catchphrase “I pity the fool” also came from Rocky III. The following year, he was part of the cast of The A Team on NBC and he went on to become a true 80s icon.
Before Hulk Hogan became the biggest fan favorite during the pro wrestling boom of the mid-eighties, he was a bad guy in the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF then was only a northeastern regional territory and not yet the national brand that it was soon to become. This is also where Stallone first saw him perform and this lead him to be cast as Thuderlips, the grappler Rocky fought in a charity wrestler vs boxer match. After the movie was completed, Hogan left the WWF and started wrestling for The American Wrestling Association, which covered the upper midwest and parts of the west coast. Thanks in part to the success of the film, this is where he became a good guy, and Hulkamania started to run wild! In December of 1983, he went back to the WWF, and a month later beats the Iron Shiek to become WWF champion. Also in 84, the WWF went nationwide and Pro Wrestling becomes a true 80s cultural phenomenon with Hogan as its biggest star.
Eye of the Tiger
Stallone had originally wanted to use Another One Bites the Dust by Queen as the theme song for the movie. When Queen said no, Stallone requested the band Survivor create a theme song. That song, Eye of the Tiger became one of the most iconic songs ever made for a movie, and one of the signature songs of the eighties and the Gen X era. It hit number 1 on the singles charts and stayed there for six weeks. When you combine the sales for the original vinyl and the later digital downloads, nine million copies have been sold. Eye of the Tiger was also the title of an action movie from 1986 starring Gary Busey. The song was used in that film as well.
On May 25, 1977, Star Wars was released in less than forty theaters and Hollywood has never been the same since.
Two Years before Star Wars, Jaws premiered and became the first summer blockbuster film, and it also became the highest-grossing movie of all time. Within six months after the opening of Star Wars and after going into wide release, the filmreplaced Jaws as the biggest box office hit of all time and kept that title until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial came out in 1983.
When you add up the box office results of 1977 and the money made from all of the times it has been re-released in theaters, the total amount the film brought in is over 775 million. When you adjust for inflation, the total amount is 2.5 billion. That amount makes it the fourth highest grossing film of all time on the adjusted for inflation list. In North America only, it’s number two behind Gone with the Wind.
When you talk about the impact of the film from 1977, you have to include the ten other Star Wars movies made afterward that have collectively brought in over 9 billion at the box office. This amount has earned the #2 slot on the highest grossing film franchise list. The #1 series is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There are several other ways that this film had a huge impact on Hollywood, the world and Generation X: The film ushered in a renewed interest in Science Fiction. Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the comedy Quark all premiered on network TV in the late seventies. Merchandising and corporate tie ins went to the next level after the huge success of the film. The Hollywood Reporter estimated by 2012 that the film franchise has made 20 billion from toy sales as compared to only 3 billion at the box office at the time. The film’s success also showed Hollywood that there was value in movies aimed at the entire family. One look at the list of top ten movies of the eighties in comparison to the top ten in the seventies will back up that statement.
Generation X has to share Star Wars with Generation Jones, who were those born in the late fifties and in the first half of the sixties. For the purpose of this blog, we consider the Gen X era the second half of the seventies ( when the first wave of Gen X started to have awareness of the culture around them) on to the first half of the nineties, so that makes Star Wars our first blockbuster. What a way for an era to begin!!!!!!
The comedy world lost one of its funniest people ever recently when Tim Conway passed away at the age of 85. Conway had the world laughing for over fifty years with a career that started out in local TV in Cleveland. He then went national when he moved to New York City and landed a job as a regular on The Steve Allen Show on ABC.
He had even bigger success as one of the stars of the 1960’s World War Two sitcom, McHale’s Navy. After that show left the airways, he had his own short-lived sitcom and variety show. What the world will always know him best for is The Carol Burnett Show, which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.
From the first season on, Conway was a popular and frequent guest. When Lyle Waggoner left the show in 1975, he became a full-time cast member and stayed on with the show till the end. Along with great characters like The Oldest Man and Mr. Tudball, his time on the show is noted for his ability to crack up his castmates during a sketch.
There are several reasons why Tim Conway matters to Generation X. The Carol Burnett Show was something that families watched together. When Conway passed away on May 14, 2019, there were many comments on social media from first wave Gen Xers about how they grew up watching the show with their families. The show aired on Saturday in a time when that was still a big night for TV viewing. Along with Burnett, for much of the seventies, the powerhouse CBS Saturday night lineup included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and The Bob Newhart Show. Can you think of a show that presently airs on Saturday nights on a broadcast network?
He was not just a TV celebrity, he was also a movie star. Conway teamed with another comedy great, Don Knotts and made four successful family-friendly movies starting in 1975 with The Apple Dumpling Gang. A sequel, The AppleDumpling Gang Rides Again, came out in 79 as did The Prize Fighter. Their final movie as a starring duo, Private Eyes, was released in 1980. Both Conway and Knotts appeared in Disney’s Gus in 1976, however, they did not have any scenes together. They made a cameo as Highway Patrol Officers in Cannonball Run 2 in 1984. This was the last time they appeared together on screen.
Conway appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1986 in a skit where he portrayed a very short Scandinavian horse jockey named Dorf. This lead to eight direct to video “how to” films featuring the Dorf character. He also played Peggy Bundy’s father in four episodes of Married with Children.
Perhaps his most famous skit on The Carol Burnett Show was The Dentist with Harvey Korman. Neither one of them could make it through the entire skit without laughing. Take a look at the clip below.
Top Gun was released this week back in 1986. The film starred Tom Cruise and was directed by Tony Scott. Despite mixed reviews, the film earned over $353 million at the box office. It was the #1 film of 1986.
The soundtrack was also a huge hit. It went platinum 9 times and was #1 on the charts for five weeks. Three singles from the soundcheck hit the top 40. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins hit #2 and Heaven in Your Eyes by Loverboy went to #12. The biggest hit was Take My Breath Away by Berlin. That song was #1 on the singles chart and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
The film was also a hit in the still somewhat new home video market. Sales went up 40% for Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses after the movie became a blockbuster. The U.S. Navy reported that new recruits who wanted to be aviators jumped up 500% after the movie came out.
A sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick is set to be released in the summer of 2020. Both Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer will reprise their roles from the first film.
When you talk about the films and the movie stars of the nineties, you cannot have that conversation without mentioning Julia Roberts. Pretty Woman, the movie that made her a star, was the #1 movie this week back in 1990. The film actually first hit number one back in late March but had to take a back seat to The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for an entire month before roaring back to the top spot for three more weeks.
The movie was originally much darker but it was reworked as a romantic comedy. Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally are both films credited with bringing back the genre of rom-coms. The film is still one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time.
Roberts was not Director Gary Marshall’s first choice for the film. Karen Allen of Raider’s of the Lost Ark fame was his first choice, but she turned it down. Other actresses who turned down the role include Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Darryl Hannah.
The number 1 movie of the entire month of April in 1988 was Beetlejuice. This was the second feature film directed by Tim Burton. The film starred Michael Keaton as a poltergeist trying to scare away a family who has moved into a home that was formerly occupied by a recently deceased young couple.
The film is considered a comedy classic and took Keaton’s career to another level. It also made a star out of Winona Ryder. Catherine O’Hara and Jeffery Jones played Ryder’s parents, and Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis portrayed the dead couple who died in a car accident and then enlisted the services of Beetlejuice after their attempts to scare away the new owners fail.
The film earned over 73 million at the box office and was the 10th highest grossing film of the year. Beetlejuice won the best make up prize at the Academy Awards and The Saturn awards. It was also won for the best Horror film at the 1988 Saturn Awards.
The film spawned a Saturday morning cartoon that aired on ABC for four years. A stage musical based on the film debuted on Broadway on April 25, 2019.
One interesting note about the film is that Burton’s first choice to play Beetlejuice was Sammy Davis Jr.
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