Rubik's cube, leg warmers, and "Alf" -- those are but a few things we love about the 1980s, and National Geographic Channel has gathered some of the biggest stars of the '80s to talk about them, and other pop culture and historical highlights of the decade, in the network's upcoming miniseries "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us."
A highlight of the three-night, six-hour series, which premieres on NGC on April 14, is the last in-depth interview with "Dallas" icon Larry Hagman, who died in November. Hagman's run on "Dallas," especially the "Who Shot J.R.?" story line, was one of the most memorable TV stories of the decade.
[Related: Hagman's 'Dallas' Send-Off]
Among the other '80s faves who filmed interviews for "The '80s": beloved "Family Ties" and "Back to the Future" star Michael J. Fox; movie star, activist, and workout queen Jane Fonda; Fonda's ex-husband and founder of CNN, Ted Turner; "Cosby Show" kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner; "Taxi" star Danny DeVito; Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone; legendary singer Dionne Warwick; fashion designers Calvin Klein and Donna Karan; Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler; hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels; "Knight Rider" star David Hasselhoff; comedienne Sandra Bernhard, skateboard pro Tony Hawk; supermodel Naomi Campbell; "Dynasty" divas Joan Collins and Linda Evans; music mogul Quincy Jones; Hagman's "Dallas" co-star Linda Gray; fashion photographer Bruce Weber; activist and "We Are the World" mastermind Henry Belafonte; newsmen Larry King, Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson; Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig, members of the gold-medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympics "Miracle on Ice" hockey team; and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Watch an exclusive sneak peek, featuring Campbell, Collins, and Tyler on Calvin Klein underwear ads:
The special, which will be narrated by an actor whose career began in the 1980s, "Parks and Recreation" star Rob Lowe, will feature interviews with more than four dozen celebrities, journalists, opinion leaders, and newsmakers, including former Time magazine managing editor and Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, original MTV veejay Nina Blackwood, CNBC's "Mad Money" host and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer, Spy magazine founder Kurt Andersen, author Barbara Ehrenreich, sportscaster Al Michaels, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, film critics Elvis Mitchell and Owen Gleiberman, historian Jay Winik, New York Times columnist David Brooks, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, George Shultz.
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Episode titles and network descriptions for "The '80s":
"Lift Off" (April 14, 8 PM) -- Go back in time to see how the '80s created our modern world. Explore the revolution in personal entertainment brought on by Pac-Man and Sony Walkmans. The assassination of John Lennon heralded the end of one music era, while a bratty new kid on the block defined a new one spelled MTV. Sharing their stories are Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Steven Tyler, Jane Fonda, Steve Wozniak, and "Dallas" star Larry Hagman, in one of his last televised interviews.
"The Revolutionaries" (April 14, 9 PM) -- In 1981, Ronald Reagan is propelled into the U.S. presidency, but his much-scrutinized administration is shaken to its core a mere 70 days in when an assassin's bullet pierces his lung. After a full recovery and an ensuing upswing in popularity, Reagan's business mandate leads to a new breed of entrepreneurs, including Steve Jobs, whose "1984" commercial helped launch the Super Bowl commercial phenomenon and Ted Turner, who reinvented the news business with the creation of 24-hour news.
"Shop 'til You Drop" (April 15, 9 PM) -- Nonstop glamour and excess find a new poster girl in the 1980s, when a hot young singer is catapulted to superstardom with a shocking performance of "Like a Virgin" at the first MTV Music Video Awards. Madonna inspires countless girls across the globe to hit the nearest shopping mall to match her distinctive style. But, it's not just teen girls, successful young men are buying into the yuppie lifestyle and scooping up the latest expensive gadget: the cell phone.
"Masters of the Universe" (April 15, 10 PM) -- With the motto "greed is good," Gordon Gekko captures the 1980s drive for excess and ambition in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street," while big traders mirror his notoriously bad behavior in real life. Cocaine has become the drug of choice for those celebrating success; Miami's status as a drug-dealing haven inspires the launch of one of the decade's most famous television series: "Miami Vice." In the '80s, CEOs see their salaries skyrocket while women struggle to overcome office boys' clubs.
"Tear Down These Walls" (April 16, 9 PM) -- Though the 1980s were known for its "greed is good" mantra, the decade also saw its fair share of literal and cultural walls brought down, as Americans united on political, racial, and health issues.
"Super Power" (April 16, 10 PM) -- At the end of the 1980s American pop culture goes global and helps bring down the Iron Curtain, leaving America as the world's sole superpower.
"The '80s: The Decade That Made Us" airs April 14 (8 PM), 15 (9 PM) and 16 (9 PM) on National Geographic Channel.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Larry Hagman
- National Geographic Channel
- Steven Tyler
- Jane Fonda