Birthday Facts - Born in 1961

The Year You Were Born:

  • In the World: Construction began in August on the Berlin Wall, which acted as a clear boundary between East and West Germany.
  • In the US: President John F. Kennedy announced the creation of the Peace Corps in a speech given at the University of Michigan on October 14th.
  • In the White House: The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, which allows residents of Washington, D. C. to vote in presidential elections, was ratified.
  • In Space: Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to travel to outer space.
  • Also Born in 1961: George Stephanopoulos (February 10), Eddie Murphy (April 3), George Lopez (April 23), George Clooney (May 6), Michael J. Fox (June 9), Princess Diana (July 1), Barack Obama (August 4), Sean Hannity (December 30)

Your Childhood: 1960s

  • Board games became more innovative, with games like Operation taking advantage of new electronic technology.
  • Another innovative new game was Twister, the first game to use human bodies as the playing pieces. This radical concept led Milton Bradley’s competitors to accuse Twister’s manufacturer of selling “sex in a box.” Despite this initial controversy, the game has enjoyed steady popularity even to this day.
  • Originally invented in Franch in the late 1950s, in 1960 The Ohio Art Company brought the “L’Ecran Magique” over to US shores and sold it by its more familiar name - Etch A Sketch.
  • Stereotypes of young boys and girls were prevalent in the new toys of the 1960s. For girls, the Easy Bake Oven was introduced, furthering the “homebody” image that was being pushed on girls of the time. For boys, there was the GI Joe, a militaristic twist on dolls that catered to boys’ wild ambitions and curiosity about the war.
  • Best-selling children's’ books included The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Dr. Seuss continued to release popular children’s books as well, and his contributions to the decade included Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • The Silver Age of comic books was going strong, and many popular Marvel comics characters were introduced in the early 1960s. These include Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, and the X-Men.
  • Prime time cartoons became very popular because they could be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Famous cartoons of the 1960s include The Flintstones, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Jetsons, and Mr. Magoo.
  • Things were changing in American schools. They were steadily becoming more crowded, thanks to the post-WWII baby boom; and more racially integrated, thanks to 1953‘s landmark supreme court case Brown v. the Board of Education.

The Teen Years: 1970s

  • Children born in the 60s were too young to take part in the hippie movement, but they were just the right age to witness the rise of disco with bands like the BeeGees. Various styles of rock were also abundant, and artists as varied as Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath produced hit single throughout the decade.
  • The 70s was a great time to go to the movies, with such blockbusters as Star Wars, Rocky, The Godfather, Jaws, and The Exorcist dominating the decade. Movies like Grease romanticized the past, and films like Saturday Night Fever captured the spirit of the present.
  • The biggest sex symbols of the decade were John Travolta, of Saturday Night Fever and Grease fame; and Farrah Fawcett, the star of hit TV series Charlie’s Angels. -Home electronics made great leaps and bounds, and teens of the 70s got to see the dawn of the home computer and classic arcade games like Pong.
  • The miniskirts and bell bottoms of the 60s stayed around for a little while in the 70s, but soon gave way to platform shoes and flared jeans. When the disco scene took off, the look for young men was a three-piece suit and teen girls wore wrap-around rayon dresses.
  • Psychedelic slang like “shag”, “trippin”, and “far out” lingered on as remnants of the hippie movement. Lines taken from movies and TV shows became popular as well - Scooby Doo’s “Jinkies,” Steve Martin from Saturday Night Live’s “Well EXCUUUSE me,” and Star Wars’ “May the force be with you,” to name a few.

Early Adulthood: 1980s

  • Near the end of the ‘80s, the cold war finally came to an end as communism in the USSR began to fall apart. This was best symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall at the tail end of the decade.
  • The legal drinking age was changed from 18 to 21 in 1984, but people born in the early 60s weren’t really affected by the change. They did, however, have to worry about problems with another illegal substance: the mid to late 80s saw a drastic rise in the use of cocaine.
  • Drug addiction wasn’t the only problem young adults in particular had to face. In the 1980s, the public first became aware of HIV and AIDS, but during these early years many believed it was only spreading among the gay male community.
  • Computerized technology continued to boom, with new products like the IBM PC, the first cellular phones, and early video games like Space Invaders and Pac Man.
  • In 1981, young adults helped elect Ronald Reagan, and re-elected him in 1985. He was succeeded in 1989 by fellow republican George Bush.

Adulthood and Middle Age

The 90s and 2000s were all about technology. The biggest economic movement of the 90s was the Dot Com phenomenon, which couldn’t have happened without the invention of the revolutionary World Wide Web. The Internet would only continue to grow at a faster and faster rate as time went on, until it became the vital component of everyday life that it is today. Other technological advancements facilitated the dawn of genetic engineering, cloning, and stem cell research. Unfortunately, technology wasn’t the only thing that became more widespread: the drug addiction and AIDS epidemics of the 80s only grew in the following decade. In the fashion of the Vietnam War before them, the Gulf War of the 90s and War on Terror of the 2000s left many Americans very dissatisfied with their government’s policies and wondering why we’d gone to war at all.