Nancy Reagan Appears on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, 1983

As part of her anti-drug Just Say No campaign, First Lady Nancy Reagan made a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986) on March 19, 1983. In the episode, titled “The Reporter,” Arnold Drummond (Gary Coleman), a reporter for his school newspaper, breaks a story on drug pushers at his school and submits it to a major city newspaper…

Cannon Films Print Advertisements in ‘Variety’, 1979 – 1986

In 1979, Israeli film industry giants (and cousins) Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus purchased tiny independent American film production house Cannon Group, Inc. Cannon had spent the ’70s producing B-movies with occasional surprise hits (like the 1970 “hardhat revenge” tale Joe starring Peter Boyle). Golan and Globus saw in Cannon a way to gain a foothold in an American market that they’d long eyed entering…

New England Whalers Victory March (‘Brass Bonanza’), 1976

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was established to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL, much like Major League Baseball in the early ’70s, was dealing with its labor market’s rebellion against the unjust reserve clause. The WHA offered players better salaries and an opportunity to sign contracts as free agents…

‘Spaceships of the Mind’ by Nigel Calder, 1978

Spaceships of the Mind was a book tie-in to a BBC series first broadcast in the summer of 1978 and hosted by pop science writer and television host Nigel Calder (1931 – 2014), who was part of the founding masthead of the influential pop science journal New Scientist (founded in 1956). The series consisted of three episodes, each focusing on a different aspect of space colonization, exploration, and survival as the field stood at the time…

‘Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record’, 1978

Murmurs of Earth was published the year after the 1977 launch of the twin space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. While the Voyager program’s primary mission was to survey, photograph, and analyze the planets of the outer solar system, the book focuses on our attempts to communicate with whatever intelligent entities might encounter the probes as they flew headlong into the interstellar night…

TI-99/4A Computer Books, 1983 – 1987

Texas Instruments (TI), which had pioneered both pocket calculators and speech synthesizer technology in the 1970s, released its TI-99/4A home computer in 1981. After the release of its first personal computer, 1979’s TI-99/4—a fairly substantial commercial disaster—TI went back to the drawing board to produce a home computer that was cheaper, easier to use…

K-tel Music Compilation Commercials, 1970 – 1984

Television advertising in the 1950s took a fairly staid and classic form: the advertising agency would spend 30 to 60 seconds presenting a domestic problem that its client’s product promised to alleviate. But the dawn of the 1960s introduced a more aggressive, hard-sell type of direct advertising, where the product’s manufacturer would sell a product directly to the TV viewer through product demonstrations…

Earth, Wind & Fire Panasonic Boombox Commercials, 1980 – 1983

At the dawn of the 1980s, soul-funk-disco orchestra Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) were at the top of their game. They’d just released their LP I Am (1979), which featured hit single “After The Love Has Gone,” and double-album Faces (1980). Both albums came close to hitting number 1 on the US pop charts and solidified the band’s already-solid reputation as reliable hit-makers…