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35 Years Ago Today: What you see…isn’t always what you get

Gremlins“Don’t get him wet, keep him out of bright light, and never feed him after midnight.”

Perhaps the best-known rules in cinematic history.

Joe Dante directed Gremlins, released June 8, 1984; the movie starred Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Hoyt Axton. The June release date seems a little strange to me as the film is set at Christmastime, but it worked as it ended up the fourth highest-grossing film of 1984.

A bizarrely brilliant half comedy, half horror movie, the film was criticized for its violence but beloved for its cuteness. It is cited by many as one of the films that prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating less than a month after its release.

The Hardee’s fast food chain released five book and record sets to coincide with the popularity of the film: “The Gift of the Mogwai,” “Gizmo and the Gremlins,” “Escape from the Gremlins,” “Gremlins—Trapped,” and “The Last Gremlin.” I am lucky enough to still own four of the five in my record collection.

35 Years Ago Today: Who you gonna call?

GhostbustersDan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson teamed up together in the Ivan Reitman-directed classic Ghostbusters, released in theaters on June 8, 1984. The movie was a massive success, the second highest-grossing film of the year, trailing only Beverly Hills Cop.

The theme song by Ray Parker Jr. was just as big as the film, hitting #1 in August 1984 for three weeks. At the end of the year, it landed at #9 on Billboard’s chart of all 1984 singles.

There was, of course, a sequel to Ghostbusters released just a few years later (we’ll talk about that one in a few weeks), a reboot released a few years ago (we may never speak of that one again), and a planned second sequel to the original next summer. In addition, Aykroyd has hinted at a prequel television series based on the original characters.

There are tons of toys, books, costumes, and even video games. Here are just a handful of the offerings on Amazon, but you can page through several more items yourself

Ghostbusters remains to this day a cultural phenomenon.

40 Years Ago Today: The Sweathogs leave the air

Welcome Back Kotter

I fondly remember watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter during the summer when I was off school. I loved imitating Horshack’s “Oo-Oo-Oo” because I was knew I wasn’t cool enough to pull off Barbarino. Sadly, Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs left the air after only four seasons, with the final episode, “The Breadwinners,” airing June 8, 1979.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (“Boom Boom” Washington) and John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino) are still active actors, while Gabe Kaplan (Mr. Kotter) became an accomplished professional poker player.

Two of the actors that portrayed Sweathogs are no longer with us. Both Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein) and Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack) passed away in 2012. Marcia Strassman, who played Mr. Kotter’s wife Julie, also passed in 2014.

The theme song, “Welcome Back,” was written and recorded by Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1976.

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