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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Sep 1, 2019

Topics: Air Jordans, Whitney Houston, Sade, The Color Purple, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Phylicia Rashad (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)


1985 Notes
General Snapshots
1.    President: Ronald Reagan
2.    Jan – In Hollywood,  California, the charity single "We  Are the World" is recorded by USA for  Africa. The  single raises money to combat the  ongoing famine in Ethiopia. The  American act consists of high-profile  performers, including Michael  Jackson, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner,  Cyndi Lauper and Diana Ross.
3.    Jan – The newest music video channel, VH-1, begins broadcasting on American cable. It is aimed at an older demographic than its sister station, MTV. The first video played is Marvin Gaye's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
4.    Mar – WrestleMania debuts at Madison Square Garden.  In the main event, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeated Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. The attendance for the event was 19,121. The event was seen by over one million viewers through closed-circuit television, making it the largest pay-per-view showing of a wrestling event on closed-circuit television in the United States at the time.
5.    Apr – Coca-Cola changes its recipe and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.
6.    Aug - Ryan White who was expelled from Western High School in Indiana is allowed to attend his first day of classes via telephone.
7.    Sep - The Farm Aid concert is held in Champaign, Illinois, USA.
8.    Oct  – The Nintendo Entertainment System is released in U.S. stores. By 1988, industry observers stated that the NES's popularity had grown so quickly that the market for Nintendo cartridges was larger than that for all home computer software.  The NES was released two years after the North American video game crash of 1983, when many retailers and adult consumers regarded electronic games as a passing fad. With the NES, Nintendo also changed the relationship between console manufacturers and third-party software developers by restricting developers from publishing and distributing software without licensed approval. This led to higher-quality games, which helped change the attitude of a public that had grown weary from poorly produced games for earlier systems.
9.    Nov - Microsoft Corporation releases the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0.
10.    Open Comments:
11.    Top 3 Pop Songs
12.    1    "Careless Whisper"    Wham!
13.    2    "Like a Virgin"    Madonna
14.    3    "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"    Wham!
15.    Grammy Awards
16.    Record of the Year: Quincy Jones (producer) for "We Are the World"
17.    Album of the Year: Phil Collins (producer & artist) for No Jacket Required
18.    Song of the Year: Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie (songwriters) for "We Are the World"
19.    Best New Artist: Sade
20.    Top 3 Movies
21.    Back to the Future
22.    Rambo: First Blood Part II
23.    Rocky IV
24.    Other Notables:  The Color Purple / Out of Africa / Cocoon / The Jewel of the Nile / Witness / The Goonies / Spies Like Us / The Breakfast Club / Brewster's Millions / St. Elmo's Fire /  Krush Groove
25.    Top 3 TV Shows
26.    The Cosby Show
27.    Family Ties
28.    Murder, She Wrote    
29.    TV Debuts
30.    Sep - What's Happening Now!! / Stir Crazy
31.    Black Snapshots
32.    Feb -  Whitney Houston releases her debut  album – Whitney Houston.
33.    Mar  – Mike Tyson makes his professional debut in Albany, New York, a match which he wins by a first-round knockout.
34.    May - Michael Jordan is named as the NBA's "Rookie of the Year."
35.    May – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Wilson Goode, the  first African American to hold that office,  orders police to storm the  headquarters of the black liberation/back-to-nature group MOVE to end a stand-off over serving arrest warrants. (Due process?!?!)  The police drop 2 explosive devices into the headquarters, killing 6 adults and 5 children, and destroyed an additional 61 residental homes in the resulting fire. The survivors filed a civil suit against the city and the police department, and were awarded $1.5 million in 1996.
36.    Jul - The final episode of The Jeffersons airs. (1975-) 10 yrs
37.    Aug - Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids  (1972-) 13 yrs
38.    Nov - Ebony Man: EM  Magazine launches
39.    Best Comedy Recording: Whoopi Goldberg - Original Broadway Show Recording
40.    Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female: Aretha Franklin for "Freeway of Love"
41.    Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male: Stevie Wonder for In Square Circle
42.    Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Commodores for "Nightshift"
43.    Economic Snapshot
44.    Avg. Income = $22,138
45.    House = $99,331
46.    New Car = $9,531
47.    Avg. Rent = $375
48.    Tuition at Harvard = $9,800
49.    Movie Ticket = $2.75
50.    Gas = $1.20
51.    Stamp = $0.22
52.    Socilal Scene: “Money, it's gotta be da shoes!” - Mars Blackmon
53.    The Air Jordan I was originally released in 1985 and is almost single-handedly responsible for modern-day sneaker culture. Michael Jordan originally wanted to sign with either Converse or Adidas. But Converse declined and according to a Wall Street Journal article published in 2015 so did Adidas. Still MJ was not convinced. Only when Nike, thinking they had nothing to loose, offered to give MJ his own shoe- and clothing line did he change his mind. This was unheard of at the time, no NBA player had an entire product line named after them. As the first basketball player with his own signature shoes Jordan would immediately become the king of basketball sneaker advertising. Just to be on the safe side Nike worked an out-clause into the contract: if Air Jordans didn’t earn Nike $3 million in the first 3 years, or if Jordan didn’t make the NBA All-Star Game in his first three years, Nike could dump him. Jordan was voted into the All-Star Game as a Rookie starter and the "Air Jordan 1" shoe made Nike $130 million in 1985 alone. The rest is history.
54.    Open Comments:
55.    The pushback and common critisisms
56.    Extremely superficial materialism is one of the only ways that many black Americans express a sense of self worth. 
57.    When you live in a society where nobody has a savings account, or a college degree, or has traveled abroad, having a fresh pair of sneakers and a gold chain shouldn't be your version of keeping up with the Joneses.
58.    Liking shoes is as much of a "black thing" as liking chicken is a "black thing". Everyone likes both of these things.
59.    Open Comments:
60.    It became popular in the late 80s for people with moderate or low incomes to wear clothing adorned with the names and logos of luxury, high-end brands. Then all the luxury brands started making their own low-end, logo-covered versions. You wear your favorite sports team to affiliate yourself with them. It's the same thing with Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Jordache, Guess, Wrangler, Levi, Gitano, Bonjour, Sasson, etc., it's a way of signalling.
61.    Question: We went from tailored suits and dresses to baggy jeans and yoga pants. From afro's and braids to fashioned bandanas and bleached blondes. From the stylish Supremes and Tempations to tatooed  faces and pireced everytginhg. - What do you think is at the root of our decisions? Are we victims of advertising?
62.    Music Scene
63.    Black Songs from the Top 40 (No Lionel Richie showed up!)
64.    5    "I Feel for You"    Chaka Khan
65.    6    "Out of Touch"    Hall & Oates
66.    12    "Easy Lover"    Philip Bailey and Phil Collins
67.    17    "Cherish"    Kool & the Gang
68.    20    "We Are the World"    USA for Africa
69.    22    "Part-Time Lover"    Stevie Wonder
70.    23    "Saving All My Love For You"    Whitney Houston
71.    26    "Cool It Now"    New Edition
72.    28    "Loverboy"    Billy Ocean
73.    29    "Lovergirl"    Teena Marie
74.    31    "Oh Sheila"    Ready for the World
75.    32    "Rhythm of the Night"    DeBarge
76.    38    "Neutron Dance"    The Pointer Sisters
77.    40    "Nightshift"    Commodores
78.    Vote:
79.    Top RnB Singles
80.    Jan - "Operator"    Midnight Star
81.    Jan - "Gotta Get You Home Tonight"    Eugene Wilde
82.    Feb -  "Mr. Telephone Man"    New Edition
83.    Feb - "Missing You"    Diana Ross
84.    Mar - "Nightshift"    The Commodores
85.    Apr - "Back In Stride"    Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
86.    Apr - "Rhythm Of the Night"    DeBarge
87.    May - "We Are the World"    USA for Africa
88.    May - "Fresh"    Kool & the Gang
89.    May - "You Give Good Love"    Whitney Houston
90.    Jun - "Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)"    Freddie Jackson
91.    Jul - "Hangin' on a String (Contemplating)"    Loose Ends
92.    Jul - "Save Your Love (For #1)"    René & Angela
93.    Aug - "Freeway of Love"    Aretha Franklin
94.    Sep - "Saving All My Love for You"    Whitney Houston
95.    Sep - "Cherish"    Kool & the Gang
96.    Sep - "Oh Sheila"    Ready For the World
97.    Oct - "You Are My Lady"    Freddie Jackson
98.    Oct - "Part-Time Lover"    Stevie Wonder
99.    Nov - "Caravan of Love"    Isley-Jasper-Isley
100.    Dec - "Don't Say No Tonight"    Eugene Wilde
101.    Vote:
102.    Top RnB Albums
103.    Jan - New Edition    New Edition
104.    Feb - Solid    Ashford & Simpson
105.    Mar - Gap Band VI    The Gap Band
106.    Mar p- Private Dancer    Tina Turner
107.    Apr - Nightshift    The Commodores
108.    Apr - Can't Stop the Love    Frankie Beverly and Maze
109.    May - The Night I Fell in Love    Luther Vandross
110.    Jun - Whitney Houston    Whitney Houston
111.    Jun - Rock Me Tonight    Freddie Jackson
112.    Nov - In Square Circle    Stevie Wonder
113.    Vote
114.    Featured Artists: Whitney Houston and Sade
115.    Whitney Elizabeth Houston, @22 yrs old: Singer, actress, model, and producer, Whitney Houston is one of the world’s most successful female entertainers of all time.
116.    Born and raised in Newark NJ,  she is the daughter of Grammy-award-winning gospel singer, Emily “Cissy” Houston and John R. Houston, who managed his daughter’s production company. 
117.    Childhood & Early Life
118.    She was no stranger to the entertainment industry, having come from a line of singers and actresses. Not only did her mother’s vocal group, the ‘Sweet Inspirations’, sing backup for Aretha Franklin, but her cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick are also renowned singers, as well as her godmother, Darlene Love. She began performing in her church’s gospel choir as a soloist at the age of eleven and learned to play the piano. While attending Catholic school, she took voice lessons from her mother, with whom she would occasionally perform in nightclubs.
119.    Career
120.    In 1977 (@ 14 yrs old), she was a backup singer for Michael Zager Band’s single ‘Life’s a Party’ and the following year she sang on Chaka Khan’s single ‘I’m Every Woman’. She was offered an opportunity to sign with a recording company, but her mother declined so she would finish high school. In the early 1980s, (@17 yrs old), she worked as a model, appearing in several magazines including, ‘Seventeen’, where she became the first African American to be featured on the cover. She also took on acting gigs appearing in TV show episodes such as, ‘Gimme a Break’, while continuing to develop her vocal skills. In 1983,(@ 20yrs old) she was signed with ‘Arista Records’. President Clive Davis spent the next couple years assembling lyricists and producers to balance her gospel-like sound with contemporary melodies. In 1985, her debut album, ‘Whitney Houston’ gradually became the number one selling album of her career.  She went on to win two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards.
121.    Open Comments:
122.    A Hot Mess
123.    On February 11th, 2012, Whitney Houston (@ 48 yrs old) was found facedown in a bathtub.  Weeks later, an autopsy report would contribute Houston’s death to accidental drowning, heart disease and cocaine use. There were additional traces of a muscle relaxant, Xanax, marijuana and an allergy medication in the singer’s system. 
124.    The sad, secret life of Whitney Houston: From a secret lesbian relationship to a decades-long struggle with drugs, five years after singer’s death, a new film ‘Whitney: Can I Be Me’ examines what caused her tragic downfall - Tara Brady [Jun 12, 2017]
125.    Selected quotes from the article:
126.    What exactly killed Houston? Why did she drown? How did she drown? Was she simply overwhelmed by the controlling demands of her formidable mother, Cissy Houston, Svengali Clive Davis, and her record company, Arista? Did the aftermath of her toxic and co-dependent marriage to Bobby Brown send her spiralling? Or was it the dissolution of her decades-old lesbian relationship with her assistant Robyn Crawford? It’s complicated, as documentarian Nick Broomfield discovered.  “In the end I think the divide between who she was and what her public persona was became more and more difficult,” says  documentarian Nick Broomfield. “And she just went down, 
127.    The imploding relations between Houston, Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford. Brown told Us Weekly magazine that Houston was bisexual and that she once had an affair with Tupac Shakur. He went on to say that Houston kept her relationship with Crawford hidden because of Cissy. “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,” Brown told the magazine. “She didn’t have close friends with her anymore.”
128.    From Cissy’s notorious 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey:  “Would it have bothered you if your daughter was gay?”  “Absolutely,” Cissy snapped back. “You wouldn’t have condoned it?” continued an incredulous Oprah. “Not at all.” ...“I didn’t particularly like [Crawford],” Cissy told the talk show queen. “She just spoke too much, disrespectful sometimes, like she had something over Nippy (Houston’s nickname), and I didn’t like that at all. She was all right, she turned out to be all right, I guess. That was her friend.”
129.    Houston and Crawford first bonded while they were teenagers working at a community centre in East Orange, New Jersey. When Houston’s modelling career began to take off, she’d face bullying in school, and Crawford, who was originally a friend of Houston’s older brothers Michael and Gary, would frequently come to the rescue. When Houston moved out of her family home, she shared her first apartment with Crawford. Deep into Houston and Brown’s 14-year marriage, Crawford remained a fixture in Houston’s domestic arrangements.
130.    Houston’s marriage to Brown, understandably, made for an uneasy romantic trinity. In Derrick Handspike’s unauthorised 2008 biography, Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But . . ., the author quotes Brown as saying: “Now I realise Whitney had a different agenda than I did when we got married. I believe her agenda was to clean up her image while mine was to be loved and have children. “Whitney felt she had to make rumours of a lesbian affair go away. Since she was the American Sweetheart and all, that didn’t go too well with her image. In Whitney’s situation the only solution was to get married and have kids. That would kill all speculation whether it was true or not.”
131.    Supermarket tabloids did a brisk trade during the 1990s by peddling the idea that Houston’s life spiralled into addiction after she married Brown. She was the gospel-singing good girl – the church-going daughter of Cissy and a cousin of Dionne Warwick. He was a bad boy who, aged 20, when they first met, had already been shot and stabbed in the shoulder. Their tumultuous marriage (from 1992 to 2007), characterised by drug use, infidelity and a costly entourage, was seldom out of the headlines. But contrary to popular belief, Brown did not introduce his troubled wife to cocaine. Houston first dabbled with drugs with her brothers, Michael and Gary, as a teenager. The truth is that Houston was always as “street“ as her R&B star husband. But that part of her personal history didn’t fit with what Broomfield calls “the Whitney character”.  As Pattie Howard, Houston’s backing vocalist, notes: “People may not know it but Whitney was from the ‘hood’. They wanted to present her as the princess. And that’s what white America was presented with.” Kenneth Reynolds, who worked in marketing for Arista Records recalls that: “Anything that was too black sounding was sent back. We wanted Joni Mitchell. We wanted Barbra Streisand. ” “She was very carefully groomed for nearly two years before the first album came out,” explains Broomfield. “So every aspect of her was carefully considered. She was a major project. A lot of money was spent on her. Anything that was too R&B was out. They didn’t want a female James Brown. That was not part of their vision. Which, of course, was a very successful vision.”
132.    In 1989, just as Houston topped 25 million in album sales and surpassed the Beatles’s record with seven consecutive number one hits, she attended the Soul Train awards where, in response to her “white” music, she was roundly booed. Pre-Beyoncé and Mariah Carey, “crossover” was synonymous with cultural betrayal. People shouted “Oreo” – brown on the outside, white on the inside – as her nomination for Best Female Vocalist was announced. “It’s not a good feeling,” says Houston, in Can I Be Me. “It’s horrible and kind of funny. You think: ‘Are they booing me?’ And you have to sit there and be cordial and smiley. And you feel like: ‘Oh my God’.” Kirk Whalum, the saxophonist who toured with Houston for more than seven years recalls that night, which coincidentally, was the first time she met Brown. “It was devastating [for her],” says Whalum.
133.    By the end of the 90s, Houston found herself at the centre of a perfect storm of ongoing racial friction, marital troubles and drug abuse. Friends, unable to watch Houston’s decline, began to drift away. Her father, John, died in 2003, but not before his management company, John Houston Entertainment LLC, filed a $100 million lawsuit against his own daughter. Months before his death, he made a public appeal on the syndicated show, Celebrity Justice: “You get your act together, honey, and you pay me the money that you owe me.” Robyn Crawford’s departure in 2000, too, prompted a new, crippling dependency on crack-cocaine and other substances. - “Robyn was the one who was keeping her together,” says writer Allison Samuels. “That’s when drugs became so important to her.”
134.    Open Comments:
135.    The Smooth Operator -Helen Folasade Adu, professionally known as Sade (@26 yrs old)
136.    Sade is an internationally renowned, multi-Grammy award winning singer who is known for her smooth, melodic vocals and the seamless incorporation of different styles of music. She was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on January 16, 1959. Her father Adebisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer of economics, and her mother Anne Hayes, a district nurse, had met in London. Sade was the couple’s second child. Shortly after her birth, Sade’s parents separated and she and her brother followed their mother to Colchester, Essex, England. There, the children were raised by their mother as well as their maternal grandfather. Upon finishing her education at Clacton County High School in Colchester, she enrolled at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in London to pursue fashion and design. After completion of her program, she worked as a model and menswear designer. 
137.    Sade entered the music scene around 1980 when she started singing harmony for Arriva, a Latin funk band. She joined another funk band called Pride and was a background singer for the group. Pride garnered much attention from record companies due to their performances around London. Eventually Sade and fellow bandmates, Stuart Matthewman, Paul Denma, and Andrew Hale signed a deal with the U.K. division of Epic Records and formed the band Sade. In 1984 the band’s debut album, Diamond Life, was released to much critical success and was bolstered by singles such as “Hang On to Your Love” and “Smooth Operator.” The band followed up their debut with their next album, Promise, which was released the following year. “The Sweetest Taboo,” a single from Promise, was on the U.S. Hot 100 for six months. She was awarded the Grammy for best new artist of 1985. 
138.    Open Comments:
139.    Selected quote about her sound
140.    Let's get this into context. With Sade it's unlikely there will ever be a full, naked baring of the soul. In terms of contemporary icons, it's better to listen to Mary J for stories of drama and shattered devotion. But Sade, today, is all about the acknowledged presence of absence. What's missing in her music is as important as what's present. - The Fader
141.    A small, yet important, fact: When Sade signed her first record deal with Epic in the early '80s, she accepted a small advance, worth ~$70,000 in exchange for an unusually high cut of sales for a new artist—15 percent. It was a deal that ended up proving immensely lucrative, and it has freed her from many of the commercial demands that often encumber artists. Put simply, she only works when and how she wants to. As one executive at her label, Epic, put it to me: "Who's going to argue with a woman who's sold 50 million albums? She's more powerful than anyone working at the label, including the [President]." - The Fader
142.    Question: Does the Sade sound ever wear out?
143.    The Movie Scene
144.    The Color Purple/Film synopsis
145.    An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South who survives incredible abuse and bigotry. After Celie's abusive father marries her off to the equally debasing "Mister" Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), things go from bad to worse, leaving Celie to find companionship anywhere she can. She perseveres, holding on to her dream of one day being reunited with her sister in Africa. Based on the novel by Alice Walker.
146.    Review by Roger Ebert
147.    Returning to "The Color Purple" after almost 20 years, I can see its flaws more easily than when I named it the best film of 1985, but I can also understand why it moved me so deeply, and why the greatness of some films depends not on their perfection or logic, but on their heart. The movie may have inconsistencies, confusions and improbabilities, but there is one perfect thing at its center, and that is the character of Celie, as played by Whoopi Goldberg. "Here is this year's winner for best actress," I wrote in my original review, and that should have been true, but although "The Color Purple" had 11 nominations, it won not a single Oscar. When a movie character is really working, we become that character. That's what the movies offer: Escapism into lives other than our own. I am not female, I am not black, I am not Celie, but for a time during "The Color Purple," my mind deceives me that I am all of those things, and as I empathize with her struggle and victory I learn something about what it must have been like to be her.  - Roger Ebert
148.    Selected Quotes
149.    In Honor of Its 33rd Anniversary, Here Are 10 Life Lessons I Learned From the Color Purple - By Melissa Kimble Dec 18, 2018 []
150.    I was born a few years after the film was released. However, I can credit much of my self discovery to the many times I’ve watched it. My favorite quotes from the movie taught me valuable lessons about Black womanhood, faith, and self love. And these 10 are the ones I’ll never forget.
151.    “Girl, you oughta bash Mister’s head open and think about heaven later.” By Oprah Winfrey - In a film where women are treated like inferiors, Sofia breaks the mold by refusing to be her husband's punching bag. This scene-stealing monologue, with its rage filled entrance by the O of O, is an act of defiance—especially one committed in early 20th century Georgia. It was powerful and necessary to see a Black woman go against the grain on screen. And to me, it was a call to action to be fearless.
152.    "I'm poor, Black, I may even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here! I’m here!" By Whoopi Goldberg - What a victorious statement this was by Celie, who, up until this point, had spent most of her life feeling unworthy and invisible. It reminded me that even with our flaws and imperfections, we still deserve to show up in our own lives.
153.    "Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble." By - Whoopi Goldberg - With these words, Celie breaks a cycle of abuse from Mister and sticks up for herself. I interpreted this line as a sign that I don’t have to carry the weight of people who have caused my pain; life will take care of everything.
154.    “Miss Celie, why you always covering up your smile?” By Desreta Jackson - Growing up, I was very insecure about my smile. And when Shug Avery posed this question to Miss Celie, it also made me turn to myself. When Shug encourages Celie to smile, I learned that there’s no need to cover up my own
155.    Open Comments:
156.    Featured Artist
157.    Caryn Elaine Johnson, a.k.a. Whoopi Goldberg (@ 30 yrs old): an American comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, Broadway star, political activist, author and talk show host, she is one of the most successful and established African American actresses of her time. 
158.    Born and raised in Manhattan, she is one of 14 entertainers ever to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. What differentiates Goldberg from her contemporaries is the excellence that she portrayed in all the mediums of entertainment, be it television, theatre, films or radio. 
159.    Childhood & Early Life
160.    Her mother was a nurse and a teacher while her father served as a clergyman. She was raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses by her mother alone after her father disbanded the family when she was young. She studied until her teen years and later dropped out of school. Her started acting started at a young age. It was during her stage performance that people complimented her by saying that she looked like whoopee cushion. It was from there that she took the stage name Whoopi and adopted Goldberg as her surname to sound more Jewish. 
161.    Career
162.    In 1974, (@ age 19) she moved to California and thereafter lived in various cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It was during this time that she honed her acting skills and developed her talent as a stand-up comedian.  However, soon thereafter, she returned to New York and started receiving training under acting coach Uta Hagen. Her first ever appearance on screen was for William Farley’s feature, ‘Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away’ in 1982 (@ 27). In 1983, she created, starred and directed a ‘The Spook Show’, a one-woman show that addressed the issue of race in American but in a unique and innovative style. Next, she created other off-Broadway productions such as ‘Little Girl’ an African-American child obsessed with having blond hair and ‘Fontaine’ a junkie who also happens to hold a doctorate in literature. The innovative presentation and sense of wit and style in her shows impressed director Mike Nicholas who offered to take ‘The Spook Show’ to the Broadway. The show which ran for 156 performances, met with much acclaim both commercially and critically. It went on to earn her a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. The eye-catching performance and amazing positive reception of the show earned her attention of the Hollywood bigwigs. It helped her bag a role in the Steven Spielberg film, ‘The Color Purple’, released in 1985. The movie met with resounding success, clutching 11 Academy Awards nominations and she won her first Golden Globe award.
163.    Open Comments:
164.    Oprah Gail Winfrey , a.k.a. Oprah Winfrey (@ 31 yrs old): Talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist.
165.    Childhood & Early Life
166.    Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on a small family farm, to an unwed mother who had a short relationship with a soldier stationed nearby, Oprah grew up in dire poverty, and was primarily raised by her grandmother. Sexually abused and mistreated as a child, Winfrey rose above adversity to focus on her primary and high school education. 
167.    Career
168.    When she was still a teenager, the local CBS television station in Nashville, Tennessee offered her a job as a co-anchor. She turned it down three times. At age 19, Oprah Winfrey said yes after the fourth offer. She failed the interview, but instead was offered a job as a full-time reporter for a Baltimore television news channel. She did poorly as a reporter, and by age 22 she was fired from the news division. The director of the station gave Winfrey a boost by selecting her to anchor a morning talk show entitled ‘People are Talking’. For the next seven years, her talk show enjoyed excellent ratings. In 1981, (@ 27) she moved to Chicago to host a talk show entitled ‘A.M. Chicago’. Four years later, (1985) after a tremendous boost in the ratings, the producers changed the name to ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. She caught the attention of Quincy Jones, a Chicago native, and he cast her as Sofia for the first movie he produced, 'The Color Purple'. The following year ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ was broadcast nationally. 
169.    Open Comments:
170.    TV Scene:
171.    Featured Actor: Phylician Ayers Allen, a.k.a Phylicia Rashad is an Emmy-nominated American actress, singer, and director.
172.    Her multi-faceted career began with Broadway before she branched into television and films. She is best remembered for her character as Claire Huxtable in the NBC sitcom ‘The Cosby Show’, which ran for eight years. The series brought Phylicia much deserved recognition, also earning her two Emmy nominations. Phylicia, however, is immortalized for her rich performances on the stage as an artist. She starred in several lavish musicals and dramas, all praised highly by critics. She became the first African American actress to walk away with a Tony Award for her performance in Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘Raisin in The Sun’.  Subsequently, she was venerated within the African American acting community at the NAACP Awards, where she was called ‘The Mother’ of the Black Community. Her other popular plays include ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, ‘August: Osage Country’, and ‘Gem of the Ocean’. She has tried her hand at stage direction and has successfully directed hit plays at prominent stages. Over the course of her career, Rashad has starred in several television series and voiced many characters. Her prolific output continues to be on the rise as she is still an active part of the entertainment industry.
173.    Childhood & Early Life:
174.    Phylicia Rashad was born Phylician Ayers Allen on June 19, 1948, in Houston, Texas to Vivian Ayers and Andrew Arthur Allen. Her mother was a prize-winning poet and artist, while her father was a reputed orthodontist. She has three siblings: Andrew Arthur Allen Jr., Debbie Allen, and Hugh Allen. Phylicia was raised in the United States and Mexico. She studied at Howard University, Washington D.C. and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre in 1970. During her university days, she was inculcated into the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
175.    Career
176.    After graduating with a degree in theatre, Phylicia immediately joined the Negro Ensemble Company in New York. She toured the city and was seen in several plays under this troupe. Her Broadway debut occurred in 1972 and she was seen in several minor roles for hit musicals, including ‘The Wiz’ (1975) and ‘Dreamgirls’ (1981). In 1978, Rashad tried her hand at something new by releasing the concept album ‘Josephine Superstar’, an album that was based on Josephine Baker’s life. She decided to embark on an alternative career in television owing to the scarcity of good roles given to her. In 1982, after moving to television, Rashad landed a recurring role in the series ‘One Life to Live’ as Courtney Wright, a publicist. In 1984, Phylicia Rashad was roped in to play the role of Clair Huxtable, an attorney, in the hit comedy ‘The Cosby Show’. The show starred Bill Cosby in the lead role and Phylicia played his wife. The series ran for over eight years and was a critical and commercial success. Phylicia’s role as Clair proved to be the highest point in her career, earning her two Emmy Award nominations.
177.    Open Comments
178.    Question: Is she a good actor? Do you buy her in other roles?
179.    Vote: Best Pop Culture item/event for 1985