What were people listening to, watching and doing in December 1980?
MOVIES: The top-grossing film of the year (more than doubling the take from the No. 2 movie of the year, 9 to 5) was The Empire Strikes Back, the second Star Wars movie in George Lucas' original trilogy. Behind them were the Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor comedy Stir Crazy; the now-classic Airplane!; and Any Which Way You Can, starring Clint Eastwood and an orangutan.
With Hollywood South far, far in the future, the most notable New Orleans shot-and-set film of the year was Macabre, an Italian boobs-and-blood horror flick about a woman who keeps the severed head of her lover in her freezer (and makes out with it). The dubbed "Southern" accents in this one may have set an all-time low in cinematic history, but the trailer promised the story was "taken from the records of an actual incident that occurred in NEW ORLEANS."
MUSIC: 1980 began inauspiciously with Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" at No. 1. It was a hot year for Freddie Mercury and Queen, though, with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" both reaching the top of the charts. Other No. 1 singles were pretty tepid (the Captain and Tennille's "Do That To Me One More Time," Christopher Cross' "Sailing"), and the top song in the country when Gambit made its debut was no exception: Kenny Rogers' "Lady," which was knocked off the chart in the wake of John Lennon's murder by the former Beatle's latest single, "(Just Like) Starting Over."
New Orleans had begun the year with the death of its own music legend, Professor Longhair, whose career was on the ascendant after years of decline. The city closed 1980 with a one-year-old but fast-rising rock group attracting crowds in clubs like Jimmy's Uptown and the Showboat in Metairie's Fat City — The Cold's New Wave single, "You," was even getting regional airplay on stations like WTIX.
TV: Two weeks before Gambit made its debut, Dallas scored the highest TV ratings ever when it revealed the answer to its "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger. Other Top 10 shows included 60 Minutes, The Dukes of Hazzard and The Love Boat.
Locally, WWL-TV — then as now the No. 1 news station in town — had an all-time powerhouse lineup of anchors: Garland Robinette, Angela Hill, Jim Henderson and Nash Roberts, with the late Bill Elder on dayside.