Some of us look at the sign in the liquor store that says “If you were born after this date..” and get more and more depressed each year. If that is you, this article might be a slightly sad reminder that you’re getting up there. You whippersnappers, on the other hand, might have no clue what the Hell we’re talking about. That’s OK; learn from your elders. Welcome to the top 10 events that turned 20 in 2012.
10. Dick York Passes Away
Character actor Dick York is best known as the charmingly befuddled Darren Stevens from the supernatural comedy Bewitched. York left the series because of back pain, battled an addiction to painkillers, and lived off of welfare after 1976. The image of an aging, ailing Dick York on a breathing tube on Entertainment Tonight was indelible to anyone who saw it. That appearance led to a ton of fan mail for York, before he passed away on February 20th, 1992. York’s death brought on a wave of sadness and nostalgia, and it hardly seems like it happened twenty years ago.
9. Dylan And Cole Sprouse Born
For those who may not be familiar, Dylan and Cole Sprouse spent the last ten years growing up on the Disney Channel. First the twins were on the Suite Life of Zach and Cody. The twins then went on to tween stardom in their own spinoff, The Suite Life on Deck. In short, you would have had a hard time turning on the Disney Channel, and not seeing the Sprouse’s eternally young visages. That is the reason why these kids being legally allowed to drink on August 4, 2013 will make you ready to be fitted for a cane.
8. Boyz II Men’s End of the Road Released
You younguns are just going to have to trust us on the following statement: people used to actually look forward to, and PAY TO SEE, movies starring Eddie Murphy. We know. Take a few moments, and let that settle in.
Now that we got that out of the way, Eddie Murphy’s movie Boomerang had a soundtrack that was unbelievably successful. The Boomerang soundtrack launched a bevy of songs, as well as R & B careers. Philadelphia natives Boyz II Men contributed the song End Of The Road. The staggering fact is that End Of The Road still stands as Motown’s top selling hit…of all time. This is a record that has now stood for twenty years. Not bad for a soundtrack song.
7. Disney’s Aladdin Released
Its hard to imagine that there was even a dark time for Disney animation. However, prior to the release of the Little Mermaid in 1992, Disney animation looked like a dead genre. Under the leadership of Jeffrey Katzenberg however, the animation division came roaring back. Aladdin was a massive hit, as well as something of a career resuscitation for Robin Williams. Aladdin featured hip songs, fast-paced action, and surprisingly current (at the time) pop culture references. Now those references have to be explained to children, for the same reason a reference on Looney Tunes makes no sense to them, and barely even made sense to kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Father Time is the ultimate troll.
6. Jeffrey Dahmer Goes To Trial
When details started to emerge about what exactly Jeffrey Dahmer did, Americans had to come to grips with a new definition of the word “evil.” For over a decade, Dahmer tortured, raped, and ate his victims. He injected people in the head with acid, attempting to create living zombies. Dahmer didn’t look the part, so he could joke with, and often successfully confront, police. This made his capture even more surprising.
His trial started on January 30th, 1992, and he was soon sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences. That would have totaled nearly a thousand years in prison, except he was killed a mere two years later, by a fellow inmate. Dahmer ultimately turned his own last name into a vision of horror.
5. Johnny Carson Retires From The Tonight Show
Should Jay Leno retire (and mean it for once) in 2022, audiences may have a fraction of an idea of what Johnny Carson retiring meant to us. But Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, Conan, Fallon, Stewart, and Colbert would all have to retire, on the same night, to equal the seismic shift in late night television that occurred on May 22nd, 1992. Carson was late night television. In the decades before the explosion of cable, he was the only real player in the late night game. Others since have been merely trying to fill that void.
4. Bill Clinton Elected
A lot can be said and written (and has) about the Presidency of William Jefferson Blythe Clinton. Clinton was the first United States President in decades with no personal connection to service in World War II. On the flip side, Clinton’s discussion of Vietnam service became a political football. Clinton was the first President raised on rock and roll, and would go on to become the first Democrat since Harry Truman to be re-elected to office. Debates about the merits of his Presidency are still ongoing, and probably will be for a long time.
3. The Birth of Text Messaging
These days, it is hard to imagine a world without ubiquitous social media, and faces constantly buried in phones. For a generation raised on Blues Clues and reality TV, the feeling is that texting has been around forever. However, texting, apps, and all of their dirty spawn are relatively new technology. On December 3rd, 1992, a 22-year-old British engineer, Neil Papworth, sent an SMS message to friend Richard Jarvis. The message was sent from a personal computer to Jarvis’ vodaphone, marking the birth of text messaging. The message was “Merry Christmas.” The real surprise though, was that Papworth spelled both words correctly.
2. Prince Charles and Princess Diana Announce Separation
Traditionally, the thought of royals divorcing has led to the creation of new churches, the fall of entire ruling houses, and the occasional beheading. When Prince of Wales Charles and Princess Diana called it quits in 1992, the reaction was not quite on that scale, but still made international headline. The formal announcement was made by Prime Minister John Major to Parliament, on December 9th, 1992. Queen Elizabeth II still refers to the year that should have been a 40-year celebration of her rule as an annus horribilis. This may be of some comfort to you, the next time you think you have tough in-laws.
Divvying up property, titles, and what to do with the kiddums was no small feat either. They weren’t two nobodies renting out a small apartment after all, and more was at stake than who keeps the cat. It took the lawyers well over four years to finalize all the terms of this divorce.
1. The Los Angeles Riots
In the days before YouTube or the Internet, certain videos still had the ability to go viral. Granted, most of the videos were crotch shots on America’s Funniest Home Videos. However, the footage of four Caucasian police officers beating African-American Rodney King electrified a nation. When the officers were tried for the beating and let go, the neighborhoods in South Central Los Angeles exploded in anger, as well as fire. The beating, trial, and ensuing violence from the riots seared images into the minds of Americans nationwide. The issues raised started an honest (some might say too honest) dialogue on race relations. The riots are often considered a nadir in American history, but they were also a start of at least some racial harmony. A mere sixteen years later, Americans would elect their first African-American President. Most notably, they would go on to re-elect the same President.