Facts About All Things '80s We Just Learned In 2021 That Made Us Say 'Whoa'

List Rules
Vote up the things about the '80s that you think are totally radical!

The 1980s: a time of neon workout clothes, big hair, pegged pants, New Wave music, lots and lots of brown, and a surge of classic sci-fi. Reminiscing back to these times can make for a really fun - and nostalgic - walk down memory lane. But there are still a ton of things we either totally forgot about, or never even knew!

From celebrity gossip to tabloid headlines and behind-the-scenes movie facts, there's so much from the '80s to remember. Look through all of the things we learned about that awesome decade this year, and vote up the ones you think are totally cool.

  • 1
    74 VOTES

    The 'Boy In The Bubble' Perished Young, But His Case Led To New Medical Insights

    David Vetter, also known as the "boy in the bubble," was born with severe combined immunodeficiency, a rare type of primary immunodeficiency disease. Seconds after he drew his first breath, he was put inside a sterile plastic bubble. 

    In 1971, the year of Vetter's birth, the only possible cure was via bone marrow transplant with a donor who was an exact match, and no family members met the criteria. After Vetter lived for 12 years in a bubble, bone marrow transplant technology improved so that his sister could be a donor. Unfortunately, he succumbed to transplant-related complications.

    Shortly after, the Texas Children's Allergy and Immunology Clinic opened the David Center, dedicated to research, diagnosis, and treatment of immune deficiencies. Thanks to Vetter's fight and the David Center, babies who test positive for SCID can receive bone marrow transplants and have the opportunity to lead normal lives.

    74 votes
  • André René Roussimoff, or Andre the Giant to his legions of fans, spent his life wrestling. During his initial years in the ring in his native France through his career in American professional wrestling, Andre endured numerous injuries - some of which were perpetuated by his chronic health issues.

    Acromegaly, which can cause gigantism, led to Andre's large size because a benign pituitary tumor released excess human growth hormone into his body. He never got treatment for acromegaly because, according to his doctor, he was afraid "it might interfere with his career as a wrestler." The importance of wrestling to Andre also came through in his willingness to endure increasing levels of pain.

    Andre had to wear a back brace, something he couldn't do in simple trunks. This is why he adopted the cross-body singlet for which he's known: He needed something to hide the device used to support him. Even after surgery, during which "they had to cut his back open and widen the spine," Andre was limited in what he could do in the ring due to his weakened physical condition. 

    71 votes
  • Jon Bon Jovi Has A Restaurant With No Prices
    Photo: Mercury

    Heavy metal rocker Jon Bon Jovi opened a restaurant, the JBJ Soul Kitchen, with an unusual payment policy: The eatery has no prices on its menu and asks only for a donation, if you can give one. 

    Bon Jovi was inspired to create JBJ Soul Kitchen after witnessing poverty and homelessness in the many cities he saw on tour. He created the restaurant, which now has two locations in his home state of New Jersey, to feed anyone who is hungry, regardless of their financial or housing situation. The food is high quality and fresh, with some ingredients coming from the restaurant's own gardens. 

    The eateries have served more than 130,000 meals and counting. 

    119 votes
  • Ed O'Neill - AKA Al Bundy From 'Married... with Children' - Actually Signed With An NFL Team
    Photo: Married... with Children / Fox
    80 VOTES

    Ed O'Neill - AKA Al Bundy From 'Married... with Children' - Actually Signed With An NFL Team

    One of the running jokes in Married... with Children was Al Bundy's heroic high school football career. In truth, the connection between Bundy and football has real ties through Ed O'Neill, who played Bundy.

    According to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com, in 1969, O'Neill signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers:

    O’Neill was a defensive lineman during his college days at Youngstown State, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1969... But alas, he was waived during training camp, maybe because he was unable to replicate Al Bundy’s glory days at Polk High School.

    O'Neill didn't end up playing professional football, but he did keep active. After training with Brazilian jiujitsu instructor Rorian Gracie for more than 20 years, O'Neill earned his black belt in the sport in 2007. He called it "the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children." 

    80 votes
  • Robert Downey, Jr. Came Back From A Rabbit Hole Of Addiction To Dominate The Marvel Cinematic Universe
    Photo: Iron Man / Paramount Pictures

    Of all the Hollywood comeback stories, Robert Downey, Jr.'s is among the best known. He appeared in several major films throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, but his career took a major dive as his struggle with addiction took over his life. Downey developed a substance abuse problem at an early age and even began smoking marijuana at the age of 6 (thanks to his father). Drug use helped the two bond, and as the younger Downey's career was developing, he continued to abuse drugs and alcohol.

    This ultimately led to problems with the criminal justice system, as Downey was arrested on numerous occasions, and was in and out of jail for years. He missed court dates, and in one instance, drunkenly broke into someone's home and passed out on their bed. He was arrested for being under the influence, which got him fired from his role on Ally McBeal; this sent him further down a spiral of addiction, jail time, and rehab.

    Eventually, Downey got clean, and while he had some work in the late 1990s and early 2000s, his comeback came in 2008 as Tony Stark/Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That role led to numerous appearances, and in the end, Downey became the highest-paid actor of all time. He took home an estimated $400 million for playing Stark, and that's primarily due to his sobriety.

    By 2020, he was 16 years sober, and it's something he's spoken about frequently. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Downey explained that working a 12-step program starts with a single step: "Job one is to get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don't change." Fortunately for Downey, he not only got out of the cave, but managed to change his life, recover from his addictions, and become an international superstar.

    72 votes
  • 6
    62 VOTES

    Wally Amos Of Famous Amos Cookies Was Also The Host Of An Adult Literacy Program

    Wally Amos founded his cookie company Famous Amos in 1975 and met with almost instant success. He started baking chocolate chip cookies as a personal comfort while his other business ventures failed to take off.

    While his business of sweet treats boomed, Amos sought to do more, using his prominent position to speak up about adult literacy:

    On April 10, 1979, I became the national spokesperson of Literacy Volunteers of America. During those years there was no one else promoting literacy. I was the first national celebrity spokesperson to really take the message to the people, and I did it in very much the same manner as I promoted my cookies. Oftentimes I would get an interview because of my cookies, but I would talk about literacy...

    I used my fame in a constructive way. I wanted to give something back to society, the community at large. Literacy Volunteers of America and literacy became a means of doing that. And so, since I was the only one, and because I was in the public eye so much, I was able to talk about it. And in a very short period of time I became very much associated with the literacy issue.

    When asked in an interview by James Adamson of the University of Hawaii about how he took his passion to TV, Amos (who lived in Hawaii for some 40 years) recalled:

    I was contacted by Kentucky Educational Television because they were doing a series called GED on TV, and they wanted me to host five of the reading segments. I'm a GED graduate so I could relate to that, and realized the importance of doing it, so I got involved.

    KET also did 30 half-hour shows called Learn to Read, and they wanted me to host those, so I hosted those.

    Then they had a series called Another Page, which they wanted to update. That was 15 half-hour shows for adult learners, and I hosted those. So I've got 50 half-hour shows circulating out there that have something to do with helping people further their education.

    This is all from a guy who dropped out of high school, and who never really saw reading as an important aspect of life, and who never really read a lot until I got involved with literacy, and then I got very involved. In some areas I am more noted for reading then I am for cookies!

    62 votes