MTV was just getting its start the last time a Republican took the keys to the Washington governor’s mansion.
The Iran hostages were released, Aussie sensation Rick Springfield was pining after Jesse’s girl, and IBM started selling something called a PC that featured products from some company called Microsoft. Oh, and Beyoncé was born.
The year was 1981 — the last time Washingtonians put a Republican in the governor’s mansion.
Longtime King County Executive John Spellman, described by The Seattle Times as a pipe-smoking Irishman who was an “unknown quantity in most circles of state government,” rode a Reaganized wave of conservative enthusiasm to beat then-state Sen. Jim McDermott. Spellman began his term on Jan. 14, 1981.
How different the world looked then.
• Median home prices across the country were $67,600. In June this year, prices reached $306,700 nationwide.
• A 19-inch color TV cost north of $400.
• Both President Reagan and Pope John Paul II survived assassination attempts.
• Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now there are three women on the high court.
• TV watchers had to contemplate life without the retiring news legend “Uncle Walter” Cronkite (as The Times called him).
• MTV launched its 24-hour music video service, though the channel didn’t make it to Seattle until the following year.
• “Raiders of the Lost Ark” debuted in theaters. The Times reviewer gave it five stars, calling it “the wittiest, most exhilarating and outrageous cliffhanger in the history of movie serials.”
• The Mariners, sold for $12.5 million to George Argyros on Spellman’s Inauguration Day, lost just 65 games that year. Of course, they won only 44 in the strike-shortened season.
• Muhammad Ali retired from professional boxing.
• Mount Rainier saw its worst recorded tragedy. Eleven climbers were killed in an avalanche.
• Christopher Boyce was captured at a Port Angeles restaurant. A spy convicted of dealing secrets to the Russians, Boyce had escaped from federal prison and spent months on the lam.
• Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer wed in England. Gifts to the couple included an oil well, a pair of vintage cockatoo figurines, and a bronze sculpture of a polo player, according to wire reports — truly royal gifts for the ’80s.