The People History Home

1987 Major News Events in History

  1. The first “The Simpsons” cartoon short is shown on The Tracey Ullman Show during April.
  2. The popular television sitcom, “Full House,” debuts on ABC
  3. Baby "M" Case The First Case in an American court ruling on the validity of Surrogacy
  4. Mathias Rust, a West German citizen, flew a small Cessna airplane into Moscow, landing in Red Square.
  5. A cross-channel ferry capsizes outside the harbour off Zeebrugge, Belgium killing 193 passengers and crew
  6. United States President Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin
  7. Great Southern British Storm of 1987
  8. The Disney corporation and France agree to create an amusement park.
  9. Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, is kidnapped in Beirut
  10. US Stock Market Crashes on Monday, October 19th , 1987 with a 508 point drop or 22.6%

More Detailed Information on each Event and those not included can be found below

What Happened in 1987 Major Events, Born This Year, Popular Culture, Prices

What happened in 1987 Major News Stories include The Simpsons first episode airs, Zeebrugge MS Herald of Free Enterprise Ferry Disaster, Work on the Channel Tunnel begins, Televangelist Jim Bakker Scandal, Klaus Barbie / Butcher of Lyon found guilty of crimes against humanity, Great Southern British Storm, First Criminal convicted using DNA Evidence, Michael Robert Ryan kills 16 People in Hungerford, USS Stark a Frigate is attacked by an Iraq Air to Sea missile, Stockmarkets around the world crash. After many years of research a new drug AZT is used for the treatment of AIDS. After a long period of growth the US stockmarket drops 22.6% in one day on October 19 and throughout the rest of the world major falls are recorded by the end of October with Hong Kong dropping by 45.8%. In the UK 2 major transport disasters happen when A cross-channel ferry capsizes and an underground fire in Kings Cross Tube Station. England also suffers one of the worst storms in history when Hurricane force winds hit much of the South of England

Cost of Living 1987 - How Much things cost

Yearly Inflation Rate USA 1.91%

Year End Close Dow Jones 1938

Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 8.75%

Average Cost of new house $92,000

Median Price Of and Existing Home $85,500

Average Income per year $24,350.00

Private 1st Class Army Per Year $9.385.20

Average Monthly Rent $395.00

Average Price for new car $10,3055.00

1 gallon of gas 89 cents

1 LB of Bacon $1.80

US Postage Stamp 24 cents

Dozen Eggs 65 cents

The Simpsons

USA -- The Simpsons First Appear

More Information for “The Simpsons” cartoon shown on The Tracey Ullman Show

The first “The Simpsons” cartoon short is shown on The Tracey Ullman Show during April. The series aired on the newly launched Fox television network and a total of 48 Simpsons shorts were shown before they were turned into their own series in 1989 . The cartoon was created by Matt Groening and produced by James L. Brooks. The characters were initially voiced by actors on The Tracey Ullman Show who would go on to continue voicing them for the full length series. The premise focused on the antics of the dysfunctional Simpsons family of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie and was loosely based on Groening’s own family.

A few UK Examples in Pounds Sterling

Average House Price 44,040

Gallon of Petrol 1.89

Yearly Inflation Rate UK 4.2%

Top Selling US Autos and Prices 1987

Ford Escort $6,895
Ford Taurus $11,808
Honda Accord $10,925
Chevrolet Cavalier $7,395
Chevrolet Celebrity $11,010
Hyundai $5,395
Oldsombile Ciera $11,420
Nissan Sentra $6,449
Ford Tempo $9,056
Chevrolet Corsica / Berreta $9,955
Pontiac Grand AM $10,269
Toyota Camry $11,248
Chevrolet Caprice $12,510
Honda Civic $6,195
Ford Mustang $9,209

Fiji -- Becomes Republic

The Dominion of Fiji proclaims itself as a Republic during October. Leading up to the proclamation, Fiji experienced two coups and was run by a military government from May until October. Fiji had become independent from Great Britain in 1970, but Queen Elizabeth II was still the head of state until the establishment of a fully independent republic. Fiji enjoyed full independence for the first time since 1874 when it had become a British colony.

USA -- Full House Debuts

The popular television sitcom, “Full House,” debuts on ABC during September. The show starred Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Jodie Sweetin, Candace Cameron, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The plot revolved around a father raising his three daughters with the help of his friends and family in the wake of the unexpected death of his wife. The show was a part of the TGIF prime time family-oriented block of shows. Full House was on the air for 8 seasons until 1995.

Baby "M" Case

The First Case in an American court ruling on the validity of Surrogacy is declared by a New Jersey court over custody rights of "Baby M" re a surrogacy agreement with Mary Beth Whitehead

More Information and Timeline For The Baby "M" Surrogacy Case

1. 1985 William Stern and his wife, Elizabeth Stern, entered into a surrogacy agreement with Mary Beth Whitehead Paying $10,000

2. 1986 on March 27 News Events Mary Beth Whitehead gives birth to a daughter whom she named Sara Elizabeth Whitehead

3. Mary Beth Whitehead leaves New Jersey with her daughter

4. The Sterns have the Whitehead family's bank accounts frozen and sought warrants for their arrest.

5. 1987, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Harvey R. Sorkow formally validated the surrogacy contract and awarded custody of Baby M to the Sterns under a "best interest of the child analysis".

6. 1988 Supreme Court of New Jersey, led by Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, invalidated surrogacy contracts as against public policy but in dicta affirmed the trial court's use of a "best interest of the child" analysis and remanded the case to family court. On remand, the lower court awarded Stern custody and Whitehead visitation rights.

Current Laws and Regulations this is different in each state, in many states surrogacy contracts are considered unenforceable because of existing adoption laws designed to discourage "baby selling." They may also make it illegal for a birth mother to receive payment for consenting to give up a child or for an intermediary or Broker to receive a fee for arranging an adoption. But in other States California for example the California Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling declaring surrogacy contracts legal in California

USSR -- Plane Lands in Red Square

Mathias Rust, a West German citizen, flew a small Cessna airplane into Moscow, landing in Red Square.

In May, 19-year-old Mathias Rust, a West German citizen, flew a small Cessna airplane into Moscow, landing in Red Square. The daring teenager flew the plane undetected into Soviet airspace, stating that his motivation was to bring peace between the Soviets and the West. When he arrived he was greeted by curious strangers and then arrested for violating Soviet airspace. Rust went on trial and was sentenced to 4 years in a labor camp but was released after 14 months as part of a good will gesture after the signing of a non-proliferation treaty. The stunt humiliated the Soviet defense ministry as it highlighted flaws in their massive system, and eventually the Defense Minister and Head of Air Defense were fired.

Zeebrugge Disaster

A cross-channel ferry capsizes outside the harbour off Zeebrugge, Belgium killing 193 passengers and crew

More Information and Timeline For Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster

1. On March 6th During Loading Bow ballast tanks filled to allow roll on roll off ramp to reach E deck

2. 18:05 (GMT) Leaves Zeebrugger dock ( Bow ballast tanks should have been emptied prior to leaving dock but were not )

3. Due to human error the bow doors were not closed and due to ships design Captain could not see that bow doors were open.

4. Ferry reaches cruising speed ( 18.9 knots ) shortly after leaving harbour and water pours in through open bow doors

5. Within 90 seconds ship capsizes due to instability with water sloshing around on deck.

Following a full Investigation and inquiry, findings included human error by multiple parties, ship design failings including no way for the captain to know bow doors were not closed combined with poor working practices including communication and stand-off relationship of Townsend Thoresen caused the disaster, the ship had a crew of 80 and carrying 459 passengers and if the ship had capsized in deeper water the resulting deaths would have been much much worse.

From our 1987 Toys Page

Talking Alf From The 1980s

Talking Alf, the Storytelling Alien

Manufacturer: Coleco
Price: $69.99

America's favorite alien life form tells funny stories! Built-in cassette player inside figure plays Alf tape (included), plus any standard cassette. See his mouth move in sync with cassette, while his ears and eyebrows move intermittently. Has detailed facial and body features.

From our 1980s Furniture Page

1987 Leather Multi-Position Lounger

1987 Leather Multi-Position Lounger

Price: $399.99

Leather, multi-position stato-lounger recliner chair. Top grain leather upholstery on places that touch the body with perfect match vinyl on outside surfaces. Heavily padded split headrest. Colors include toast and steel blue.

1980s Ladies Dresses

1987 Two Tone Peplum Dress

From 1987 Two Tone Peplum Dress

Price: $85.00

Description : Dazzle them in a dramatic two-tone peplum dress. Noteworthy styling details include: the emphatic asymmetrical neckline, the side-shirred waistline, the accent of a large double bow. Straight skirt with back walking slit. Back zipper with hook and eye closure. Color combinations include red with black or white with black.

1980s Home Electrical

1987 Audio Video Rack System

1987 Audio Video Rack System

Price: $577.95

Nineteen-inch color TV has adaptability for audio/video built right into the rear panel. Audio section features gyro-tuning and built-in Automatic Frequency Control, AM/FM stereo receiver, and 3-band equalizer. Semi-automatic turntable with cue/pause control. Dual cassette tape deck for automatic continuous play and dubbing. Remote control.

Order of the Garter

Britain’s Order of the Garter is opened to women

More Information for Order of the Garter

Britain’s Order of the Garter is opened to women during August. The Order of the Garter is considered the most exclusive and prestigious level of knighthood in England. It originated with King Edward III in 1348. The medieval order consists of the English monarch, Prince of Wales and 24 “Companions” who are chosen each year by the monarch based on their public service. Women were often included as “Ladies of the Garter” but were never companions until Queen Elizabeth II issued a statute to include them in 1987.

Germany -- Reagan Berlin Wall Speech

Reagan urgies the reunification of Germany

More Information for Berlin Wall Speech

United States President Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin on June 12th. The speech came at the height of the Cold War and was a rallying cry for the unification of Berlin. Reagan implored the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall,” urging him to include the reunification of Germany as a part of Gorbachev’s “perestroika” (restructuring) that was promised to the world when he assumed power. Reagan also used the speech to encourage Soviet leaders to work with the United States in initiating new arms reduction talks.

World -- Naked Eye Supernova

More Information and Timeline SN 1987A supernova

The SN 1987A supernova became the first observable by the naked-eye supernova to be seen from Earth since 1604 when the light from the exploding star began reaching Earth in February. SN 1987A was about 168,000 light years away and was located in the Large Magellanic Cloud dwarf galaxy. It could be seen from the Southern Hemisphere and it was at its brightest in May of that year. The supernova occurred when a massive star collapsed and exploded. It destroyed the star and sent out shock waves that potentially created new stars through the huge release of energy. Due to its proximity and timing SN 1987A has become on of the most studied events in the history of astronomy.

Great Southern British Storm of 1987

Hurricane force winds hit much of the South of England killing 23 people

More Information and Timeline For Storm of 1987

1. October 15th 6.00 PM Strong Winds begin striking south coast

2. October 15th 10.35 PM gale force 10 winds ( 55–63 mph ) are felt

3. on October 16th During Early Morning 1.00 AM to 4.00 AM winds approaching 120 mph gusts strike the south coast from Cornwall to Kent

4. The storm caused substantial damage over much of England, bringing down an estimated 15 million trees

5. Six of the seven famous oak trees in Sevenoaks are bought down

6. Due mostly to trees falling on power lines between 1/4 and 1/2 million people were left without power

7. Damage to property ranged from windows blown out to roofs being taken out and damage costs were estimated at £7.3 billion with 23 deaths.

Note From Webmaster "I lived in the Portsmouth area of Southern England during 1987 and can remember the night and following day with amazing clarity over 20 years later on the night of October 15th I was at a company meeting and drove home some 50 miles at about 11:00 PM with trees falling behind and in front of me as I drove a pretty scary experience, the following day October 16th I was scheduled for a days holiday to take some exams but my phone started ringing from 5.00 AM with customers who had lost major computer systems due to storm damage taking out windows etc. and I spent most of the day securing customers data and systems. " This is the worst storm to have struck the UK in more than 200 years and could have resulted in many more fatalities.

Europe -- Single European Act

The Single European Act (SEA) became effective during July of 1987. The SEA set the goal for the European Economic Community to join together to form a single market with a single currency by the end of 1992. The SEA also made steps towards more political integration in Europe and it gave more power to the European Parliament. The Single European Act made the biggest strides towards the future creation of the European Union.

United Kingdom -- High Speed Train Record

Britain’s Inter-City 125 high-speed train sets a world record for the fastest diesel-powered train during November of 1987. The record was set at 148 miles per hour in a test run. The train had also previously set records in 1973 and in 1985. A total of 197 Inter-City 125 engines were built and were used originally to travel between London and Bristol and South Wales, but extended its services further out, eventually.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Soul singer Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January of 1987. The R&B powerhouse was the first female artist to be included in the hall of fame which had began during the previous year. The criteria used to choose artists stated that they needed to have released their first album at least 25 years prior to their induction, which immediately ruled out many other female rock stars who had not emerged until the late 1960s. Some of Franklin’s popular songs included “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” and “I Say a Little Prayer.” She also boasted an impressive total hit singles and has won over 30 awards.

Disneyland Paris

The Disney corporation and France agree to create an amusement park.

More Information and Timeline for the creation of Disneyland Paris.

1. The CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, and Prime Minister of France, Jacques Chirac, made a deal to create a European Disney-themed resort during March of 1987.

2. In the deal it was agreed that Disney could develop a 4,800 acre resort in Marne-la-Vallée near Paris, France to be called “Euro Disney Resort.”

3. Currently known as “Disneyland Paris” the resort and theme park opened in 1992.

4. Disneyland Paris was not as popular initially as it was expected to be and went through periods of financial instability but proved to be beneficial for tourism in France and job creation in the long run.

Terry Waite Kidnapping

Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, is kidnapped in Beirut

More Information and Timeline For Terry Waite Kidnapping

1. 1980 Terry Waite appointed Archbishop of Canterbury Special Envoy to help with hostage negotiations

2. 1980 Terry Waite successfully negotiates the release of several hostages in Iran

3. 1984 Terry Waite successfully negotiates the release of several hostages in Libya

4. 1985 Terry Waite assisted in successful negotiations in Lebanon

5. 1987 on January 12th arrives in Beirut with the intention of negotiating for release of hostages held by the Islamic Jihad Organization

6. January 20th while attending a meeting for hostage negotiations he is taken hostage

7. He is held in captivity for 1,763 days ( Just under 5 years , 4 years of that in solitary confinement )

8. 1991 November 18th is released

Terry Waite was one of many hostages taken and released in the 1980's others included David S. Dodge ( Held for 12 Months ) Benjamin Weir ( Held for 16 months ) Charles Glass ( Escaped after 62 days ) and the longest held hostage Terry A. Anderson ( Held for more then 5 1/2 years ), many other hostages were killed or held during the period.

"Final Fantasy" video game

Square releases the first "Final Fantasy" video game for the NES in Japan.

More Information for Final Fantasy.

The very first Final Fantasy video game is released by Square in Japan during December of 1987. The game was designed for the original Nintendo Entertainment System and was considered a critical and commercial success. It was reported to have sold about 400,000 copies during its original release and went on to sell nearly 2 million more copies worldwide in subsequent releases. The Final Fantasy games were developed into a well-loved series of video games, spawning several follow-up games, various merchandise, soundtracks, and even films.

More News and Key Events From 1987

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher is elected as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for the third time

Fox Broadcasting

Fox Broadcasting Co. made its prime-time TV debut

Tamil Tigers

Tamil Tigers plant a massive bomb in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo killing more than 100

Hungerford Shooting

In the United Kingdom, Michael Robert Ryan kills 16 People in Hungerford with an assault rifle and then commits suicide


The World's Population reaches approx five billion (5,000,000,000)

The US Population Estimated at 244.6 Million

World Stock Market Crash

US Stock Market Crashes on Monday, October 19th , 1987 with a 508 point drop or 22.6%

Stockmarkets around the world follow with falls, by the end of October Australia had fallen 41.8%, Canada 22.5%, Hong Kong 45.8%, and the United Kingdom 26.4%.

King's Cross fire

King's Cross fire was an underground fire in Kings Cross Tube Station in London on on November 18th, 1987, which killed 31 people

USS Stark Attacked

The USS Stark a Frigate is attacked on May 17 by an Iraq Air to Sea missile Which is "an Accident" and 37 US Sailors are killed

Eniskillin Bombing

An IRA Bomb is let off at Rememberence Day Service in Eniskillin Northern Ireland

Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan succeeds Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

Klaus Barbie / Butcher of Lyon

The Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie / Butcher of Lyon found guilty of crimes against humanity

British Airways

British Airways Merges With British Caledonian to compete with large US Airlines

Sikh terrorist attack

Sikh terrorist attacks Hindu bus passengers in India leaving 72 dead

US - Midwest Earthquake

A rare earthquake 5.0 on the Richter scale on June 11th affects 14 states in the Midwest and parts of Canada

Supertyphoon Nina

Supertyphoon Nina strikes the Philippines submerging 14 fishing villages on the Philippine coast under water leaving 1,000 dead

Docklands Airport

Docklands Airport Opens in London

Philippines Ferry Accident

Manilla Philippines Ferry Accident resulting in 4,000 dead

Popular Culture 1987

Prozac makes its debut in the United States

Televangelist Jim Bakker Scandal

The Simpsons seen on TV for the first time

British Government Stops Publication in Britain of Spycatcher Book

Search for Nessie reveals no evidence after 1.6 million dollar investment

Popular Films

Three Men and a Baby

Fatal Attraction

Beverly Hills Cop II

Good Morning, Vietnam

The Untouchables


Lethal Weapon

The Witches of Eastwick

The Last Emperor

Wall Street

Dirty Dancing



Popular Musicians

Michael Jackson with " BAD " Album and a Single

Lionel Richie "Do It to Me"

Fleetwood Mac "Tango in the Night" Album

Peter Gabriel

Janet Jackson "Let's Wait Awhile" Single

Heart "Alone" Single

Whitney Houston "Whitney" Album / "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" Single

Bruce Hornsby with The Range ""Mandolin Rain" Single

George Michael " Faith " Album and Single

Bryan Adams "Into the Fire" Album

Los Lobos ""La Bamba" Single

Bananarama "Love in the First Degree" Single

U2 "The Joshua Tree" Album and " With or Without You " Single

Popular TV Programmes

The Cosby Show

Magnum, P.I.


Falcon Crest

Hill Street Blues

Cagney and Lacey



Family Ties

Remington Steele

The A-Team

Highway to Heaven

Murder, She Wrote

Growing Pains


The Twilight Zone

Born This Year 1987

Hillary Duff

Born September 28th, Houston, TX

Lionel Messi

Born June 24th, Rosario, Argentina

Michael B. Jordan

Born February 9th, Santa Ana, CA

Blake Lively

Born August 25th, Los Angeles, CA


The Food and Drug Administration approves anti-AIDS drug AZT.

The First Criminal convicted using DNA Evidence Robert Melias in England

Work on the Channel Tunnel joining UK and France begins

Clive Sinclair launches the Z88 Portable Computer weighing under 2 LBS

1987 is shortened by 1 second to adjust to the Gregorian calender

Disposable Contact Lenses became available for commercial distribution

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )

Kitty Litter USA by Edward H Lowe

Calendar For The Year 1987

1987 Calendar

Major World Political Leaders

Australia Prime Minister Bob Hawke
Brazil President José Sarney
Canada Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Li Xiannian

France President François Mitterrand

Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl

India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

Italy Prime Minister Bettino Craxi
Till 17 April

Italy Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani
From 17 April

Italy Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani
Till 28 July

Italy Prime Minister Giovanni Goria
From 28 July

Japan Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
Till 6 November

Japan Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita
From 6 November

Mexico President Miguel de la Madrid
Russia / Soviet Union

General Secretary of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev
South Africa State President Pieter Willem Botha
United States President Ronald Reagan
United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

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