September 1981

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September 25, 1981: Sydney Tower opens
September 25, 1981: O'Connor becomes first woman justice on U.S. Supreme Court
September 27, 1981: TGV high-speed train begins operations

The following events occurred in September 1981:

September 1, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

September 2, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

September 3, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1979, went into effect by its own terms after being ratified by at least 20 nations.[6]
  • In Egypt, a nationwide arrest of 1,536 people, most of them Islamist activists, was carried out on orders of President Anwar Sadat. One of those seized was Mohammed Islambouli, leader of the Islamic Association branch at Assiut University. His younger brother, Egyptian army Lt. Khalid Islambouli, a member of the group Jihad, was so outraged that he vowed to get revenge on Sadat. A few days later, Khalid was assigned to be part of a military parade scheduled for October 6 to commemorate the eighth anniversary of Egypt's attack on Israel in the Yom Kippur War, and used the opportunity to conspire with fellow members of Jihad to carry out an assassination.[7]
  • Born: Fearne Cotton, British television presenter, as Fearne Wood in Northwood, London

September 4, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

A serving of vegetables?
  • The United States Department of Agriculture issued proposed new regulations concerning nutritional requirements for the federally subsidized school lunch program. Both ketchup and pickle relish were classified as vegetables for purposes of defining a balanced meal. The USDA withdrew the proposal three weeks later after a reporter from the Washington Post called attention to the new rules.[8]
  • An explosion at a mine in Záluží, Czechoslovakia, killed 65 people. Another 40 were rescued.[9]
  • Louis Delamare, France's ambassador to Lebanon, was assassinated in Beirut. Delamare was being driven home when four gunmen pulled alongside his BMW and opened fire.[10]
  • At 8:51 a.m. on the day of its bicentennial, Los Angeles got what was nicknamed "the birthday quake", a tremor of 5.8 magnitude, the strongest since the 1971 quake that had killed 65 people.[11]
  • Sobhuza II celebrated his 60th anniversary as King of Swaziland, in a ceremony attended by Egypt's President Sadat and Britain's Princess Margaret. Sobhuza was the first monarch since Queen Victoria to observe a diamond jubilee.[12]
  • Born: Beyoncé Knowles, American actress and R&B singer (Destiny's Child); in Houston

September 5, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Pope Shenuda III, head of the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt, was deposed from his job by President Anwar Sadat, who charged that Muslim and Christian extremists were conspiring to overthrow the government.[13] Three years after Sadat's assassination, Shenuda, who had been exiled to the monastery of Saint Bishoi, was allowed by President Hosni Mubarak to return to Cairo.[14]
  • John Barnes, who would become England's greatest black soccer football player, made his professional debut at age 17, playing for the last 15 minutes of Watford F.C.'s game against Oldham Athletic.[15]
  • In the largest jailbreak within a Communist nation, 154 inmates escaped from a jail in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The mass breakout happened after a riot that began when a 17-year-old burglary suspect had been shot during an attempted escape.[16]

September 6, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Nawal El Saadawi was arrested as part of the roundup of Sadat's opponents, and stayed in the Barrage Prison until November 25. She later recounted the story in her book, Mozakerati fi signel nissa (Memoirs from the Women's Prison, 1983)[17]

September 7, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • The People's Court made its syndicated television debut on 39 television stations in the United States. Created by producer Ralph Edwards, the show presented real small claims court cases, with the litigants agreeing to dismiss court proceedings and to go before retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Wapner. Of the $800 provided by the producers for each case, the amount not awarded to the plaintiff ($750 maximum) would be divided evenly between both sides. The very first case saw a landlady receive an award of $614.[18]
  • The first issue of the American weekly newsmagazine Education Week was published.[19]
  • Special Effort won the All American Futurity to become quarter horse racing's first Triple Crown Winner.
  • Died: Edwin Link, 77, American inventor who created the first flight simulator

September 8, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

September 9, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

September 10, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Picasso's painting "Guernica" was returned to the Museo del Prado in Madrid after having been kept at New York's Museum of Modern Art since 1939. Transfer of the painting had been kept secret until its arrival.[22]
  • In a hastily called referendum, voters in Egypt overwhelmingly endorsed his crackdown against religious and political opponents, with a reported 99.45% of nearly 11 million ballots in favor, and only 33,561 against.[23]
  • John Carta, a 35-year-old unemployed stonemason from New Rochelle, New York, became the first person to parachute on to the World Trade Center. Carta jumped from a plane at an altitude of 10,000 feet, then guided himself to a landing on to the observation deck on Tower Two.[24]

September 11, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

September 12, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

September 13, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Two days of elections began in Norway, and the Labor Party lost its majority in the 155 member Storting. Labor, let by Gro Harlem Brundtland, retained 67 seats, but the Conservatives, led by supply side economist Kare Willoch, claimed victory with 54 seats and a potential coalition of 79.[27]

September 14, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • Entertainment Tonight made its syndicated debut in various television markets.[28]
  • Nikolai Glushkov, Chairman of the State Prices Commission in the Soviet Union, confirmed rumors that had caused a run on stores, announcing sharp price increases for the following day, doubling the price of gasoline from the equivalent of $1.06 a gallon to $2.12. Glushkov also increased prices on tobacco and liquor, saying that it was in response by requests from workers "to limit the demand for them". He also said that prices for synthetic fabrics, household appliances, medicines and some watches would be cut by up to 37%, and noted that meat, dairy and bread prices had been unchanged for nearly 20 years.[29]

September 15, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

September 16, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

September 17, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

September 18, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

September 19, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

Simon & Garfunkel

September 20, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • For the first time, China launched three satellites into orbit, on a rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The feat led some observers to speculate that China had gained the ability to launch multiple nuclear warheads[39] or that it had set up an early warning system against missile attacks.[40]
  • Karen Williams, a stewardess on board World Airways Flight 32, a DC-10, was crushed to death in the airplane's service elevator during a flight from Baltimore to London.[41]

September 21, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

British Honduras

September 22, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The initial public offering of stock in The Home Depot was made at $12.00 per share as the company was listed on the NASDAQ exchange.[44] The stock was worth 20 times as much within two years, and with 13 successive stock splits over the next 18 years, the value of a 1981 share of stock was worth 370 times as much, so that initial investment of $5,000 in 1981 would have been worth $1.8 million in 1999.[45] By 2010, the $5,000 investment would have been worth more than six million dollars.[46]
  • Born: Alexei Ramirez, Cuban-born Major League Baseball player, in Pinar del Río
  • Died: Harry Warren, 87, American songwriter and three time Oscar winner

September 23, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Richard Allen announced plans by the Reagan Administration to create a radio station that would broadcast to Cuba, patterned after Radio Free Europe.[47] Though initially set to launch in January 1982, Radio Marti did not start transmission until May 20, 1985.[48]
  • Died: Chief Dan George, 82, Canadian First Nations actor

September 24, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

September 25, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

September 26, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

Black-footed ferret: not extinct
A Boeing 767-200

September 27, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The first commercial run of the TGV high-speed rail service train began, traversing the 300-mile distance between Paris and Lyons. At 6:15 am, the Train a Grande Vitesse pulled out of the Gare de Lyon in Paris with 772 passengers, then accelerated along the high-speed line at Saint-Florentin at 156 miles per hour, arriving in Lyons at 9:05 am.[55]
  • The hijacking of a Yugoslavian JAT Boeing 727 was thwarted after a fire alarm was sounded and the 101 passengers and 7 crew escaped unharmed. The plane had been seized the night before during a flight from Dubrovnik to Belgrade, flew to Athens for refueling, then landed at the Cypriot city of Larnaka, where the escape took place.[56]
  • Died: Robert Montgomery, 77, American actor

September 28, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

September 29, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • President Reagan issued Executive Order 12324 to halt the flow of refugees from Haiti into the United States. Since 1978, almost 50,000 Haitian citizens fled the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier and most were detained in South Florida. Reagan ordered the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept and board any refugee vessels and return them to their nation of origin.[59]
  • U.S. Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) completed a filibuster at 10:27 a.m., yielding the floor after beginning a speech of more than 16 hours the day before. Proxmire, famous for his monthly "Golden Fleece Award" for wasteful government spending, had spoken out against U.S. Senate approval of a bill to raise the debt ceiling above one trillion dollars. The cost of his speech to taxpayers, most of it for printing in the Congressional Record, was estimated at $64,674.[60]
  • A 22-year-old Mojahed detonated two hand grenades, killing himself, seventeen pasdars and Hojjat al-Islam Hasheminezhad, the Islamic Republican Party leader, in the city of Khorasan.[61]
  • Police found four people shot to death in an expensive home in Columbia, South Carolina, known as the "devil house".[62]
  • Died: Bill Shankly, 68, British football manager who won multiple championships for Liverpool F.C.

September 30, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]


  1. ^ "Typhoon Agnes leaves 51 dead", Montreal Gazette, September 5, 1981, p8
  2. ^ "Agnes", in Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, Volume 1 (Michael Allaby, ed.) (Infobase Publishing, 2002) p13
  3. ^ "Central African president resigns", Milwaukee Journal, September 1, 1981, p2
  4. ^ Pierre Kalck, Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic (Scarecrow Press, 2005)
  5. ^ "New Prime Minister", Milwaukee Journal, September 3, 1981, p10
  6. ^ Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  7. ^ Caryle Murphy, Passion for Islam: Shaping the Modern Middle East: The Egyptian Experience (Simon and Schuster, 2002) p62; "Sadat sweep jails 500", Vancouver Sun, September 4, 1981, p1
  8. ^ "Q: When Is Ketchup a Vegetable? A: When Tofu Is Meat", by Ward Sinclair, Washington Post, September 9, 1981, pA7; Manning Marable, Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990 (University Press of Mississippi, 1991) p183; "Plan to count ketchup a vegetable left school lunch planners in a pickle", Miami News, September 30, 1981, p6A
  9. ^ "Mine blast kills 65", Milwaukee Journal, September 4, 1981, p2
  10. ^ "French envoy slain", Milwaukee Journal, September 4, 1981, p2
  11. ^ "Strong quake jolts L.A. area", Milwaukee Journal, September 4, 1981, p3
  12. ^ "King hits 60 years on the throne", Milwaukee Journal, September 4, 1981, p2
  13. ^ "Sadat rips religious extremists", Milwaukee Journal, September 6, 1981, p1
  14. ^ Otto Friedrich and August Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (American University in Cairo Press, 2002) p80
  15. ^ Dave Hill, Out of His Skin: The John Barnes Phenomenon (WSC Books Limited, 2001) p74
  16. ^ "154 Polish inmates stage huge escape", Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 7, 1981, p2
  17. ^ Nawal El Saadawi, The Nawal El Saadawi Reader (Palgrave Macmillan, 1998) p23, p58
  18. ^ "TV: 'People's Court', 'Reality' in the Morning", New York Times, September 8, 1981; "Law: Oyez! Don't Touch That Dial", TIME Magazine, September 7, 1981
  19. ^ Thomas C. Hunt, Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent, Volume 2 (SAGE, 2010) p330
  20. ^ Michael R. Collings, Scaring Us to Death: The Impact of Stephen King on Popular Culture (Wildside Press LLC, 1997) p50
  21. ^ Ananth V. Krishna, India Since Independence: Making Sense Of Indian Politics (Pearson Education India, 2011) pp273-274
  22. ^ "Picasso's 'Guernica' goes home", Glasgow Herald, September 11, 1981, p5
  23. ^ "Sadat referendum victory put at 99.45%", Milwaukee Journal, September 11, 1981, p2
  24. ^ "Parachutist courts fine, Milwaukee Journal, September 11, 1981, p2
  25. ^
  26. ^ "French assembly approves decentralization", Milwaukee Journal, September 13, 1981, p2
  27. ^ "Conservatives claim Norwegian election", Anchorage Daily News, September 15, 1981, pA-10
  28. ^ "Two magazine series to debut", Milwaukee Journal, September 13, 1981
  29. ^ "Some Russ prices soar", Milwaukee Journal, September 15, 1981, p2
  30. ^ "US general survives ambush", Milwaukee Journal, September 15, 1981, p1
  31. ^ "Leonard stuns Hearns in the 14th", Milwaukee Sentinel, September 17, 1981, p2-1
  32. ^ "British centrists form pact", Milwaukee Journal, September 17, 1981, p2
  33. ^ "Ford Museum Dedicated With A Note Of Hope", Pittsburgh Press, September 18, 1981, p1
  34. ^ Gordon L. Hollis, Surfactants Europa: A Directory of Surface Active Agents Available in Europe (Royal Society of Chemistry, 1995)
  35. ^ Lakshmi Bhaskaran, Designs of the Times: Using Key Movements and Styles for Contemporary Design (Rotovision, 2005)
  36. ^ Aviation Safety Network
  37. ^ "Simon-Garfunkel reunion draws huge crowd in New York", Milwaukee Journal, September 20, 1981, p15
  38. ^ "300 bodies sought in Amazon", Ottawa Citizen, September 21, 1981, p56
  39. ^ "Chinese can launch multiple warheads", St. Petersburg (FL) Independent, September 23, 1981, p13-A; Federation of American Scientists
  40. ^ "Chinese satellites to protect against nuclear missile hits", Nashua (NH) Telegraph, September 21, 1981, p4
  41. ^ "Stewardess' death probed", Milwaukee Journal, September 21, 1981, p2
  42. ^ "Belize, independent at last, wary of future", Montreal Gazette, September 21, 1981, p57
  43. ^ "99-0 Senate vote cheers O'Connor", Milwaukee Journal, September 22, 1981, p3
  44. ^, Investor FAQ
  45. ^ Chris Roush, Inside Home Depot: How One Company Revolutionized an Industry through the Relentless Pursuit of Growth (McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999) p2
  46. ^
  47. ^ "U.S. To Beam Radio News To Cuba", Toledo Blade, September 23, 1981, p2
  48. ^ Loch K. Johnson, Strategic Intelligence, Volume 1 (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007) pp112-113
  49. ^ "U.S.-Russian talks slated on nuclear arms control", Vancouver Sun, September 24, 1981, pA7
  50. ^ Southland Greyhound Park website
  51. ^ "Sydney Tower- A special Herald feature to mark today's opening to the public of Australia's tallest building", Sydney Morning Herald, September 25, 1981
  52. ^ "Jagger, 38, still has some flash", Milwaukee Journal, September 26, 1981, p2
  53. ^ Miriam Aronin, Black-footed Ferrets: Back from the Brink (Bearport Publishing, 2007) p4
  54. ^ "Hydraulic problem fails to mar Boeing 767 test", Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, September 27, 1981, p2-B
  55. ^ "Large crowds ride high-speed train", Calgary Herald, September 28, 1981, pB10
  56. ^ "Yugoslav plane hijacked", Milwaukee Journal, September 27, 1981, p2; "Yugoslav hijackers seized", Journal, September 28, 1981, p2
  57. ^ "Foreign stocks take a dive, but Wall St. gets up for the bell", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 29, 1981, p1
  58. ^ "U.S. stocks edge higher; London, Tokyo recover", Madison (WI) Courier, September 29, 1981, p1
  59. ^ "Reagan Orders Halt To Illegal Alien Flow From Caribbean", Toledo Blade, September 30, 1981, p1
  60. ^ "Proxmire Filibuster on Wasteful Federal Spending Costs Taxpayers $64,000", Schenectady (NY) Gazette, September 29, 1981, p4
  61. ^ Baqer Moin, Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah (Macmillan, 2000) p242
  62. ^ "Four die in gruesome massacre", Milwaukee Journal, September 30, 1981, p2
  63. ^ "Reagan Signs Bill For Trillion-dollar Debt", Dubuque (IA) Telegraph-Herald, October 1, 1981, p2
  64. ^ "Indian jet hijacked", Milwaukee Journal, September 29, 1981, p2; "Indian hijacking ends safely", Milwaukee Journal, September 30, 1981, p2
  65. ^ IOC vote history