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1981 ( MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1981st year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 981st year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 81st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1980s decade.
January January - The subterranean
Sarawak Chamber is discovered in Borneo.
January 2 - One of the largest investigations by a British police force ends when serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper", is arrested in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
January 10 - Salvadoran Civil War: The FMLN launches its first major offensive, gaining control of most of Morazán and Chalatenango departments.
January 15 - Pope John Paul II receives a delegation led by Polish Solidarity leader Lech Wasa at the Vatican.
January 16 - Loyalists shoot and seriously wound Irish nationalist activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and her husband.
January 17 - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos lifts martial law.
January 19 - United States and Iranian officials sign an agreement to release 52 American hostages after 14 months of captivity.
January 20 - Iran releases the 52 Americans held for 444 days, minutes after Ronald Reagan is sworn in as the 40th President of the United States, ending the Iran hostage crisis.
January 21 - The first DeLorean automobile, a stainless steel sports car with gull-wing doors, rolls off the production line in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.
January 23 - An earthquake of 6.8 magnitude in Sichuan, China kills 150.
Jiang Qing ("Madame Mao") is sentenced to death in the People's Republic of China. In South Africa the largest part of the town Laingsburg is swept away within minutes by one of the strongest floods ever experienced in the Great Karoo. January 27 - The Indonesian passenger ship Tamponas 2 catches fire and capsizes in the Java Sea, killing 580.
February 8 - In Greece, 20 fans of Olympiacos F.C. and one fan of AEK Athens die, while 54 are injured, after a stampede at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, possibly because Gate 7 does not open immediately after the end of the game.
February 9 - Polish Prime Minister Józef Pi?kowski resigns and is replaced by General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
February 17- 22 - Pope John Paul II visits the Philippines.
February 23 - 1981 Spanish coup d'état attempt ("23-F"): Antonio Tejero, with members of the Guardia Civil, enters the Spanish Congress of Deputies and stops the session where Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo is about to be named president of the government. The coup fails following its denouncement by King Juan Carlos. February 24 - A powerful, 6.7 magnitude earthquake hits Athens, killing 22 people, injuring 400 people and destroying several buildings and 4,000 houses, mostly in Corinth and the nearby towns of Loutraki, Kiato and Xylokastro.
May May -
Daniel K. Ludwig abandons the Jari project in the Amazon basin.
May 1 - Pensions in Chile: The new Chilean pension system, based on private pension funds, begins.
May 4 - The European Law Students' Association (ELSA) was founded in Vienna by law students from Austria, West Germany, Poland and Hungary.
May 5 - 1981 Irish hunger strike: Bobby Sands, Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteer and abstentionist Member of Parliament of the House of Commons, dies, aged 27, on hunger strike in prison in Northern Ireland.
May 6 - A jury of architects and sculptors unanimously selects Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. from 1,421 other entries.
May 11 - Jamaican singer Bob Marley dies aged 36 from cancer in Miami, Florida.
May 13 - Pope John Paul II assassination attempt: Pope John Paul II is shot and nearly killed by Mehmet Ali A?ca, a Turkish gunman, as he enters St. Peter's Square in Vatican City to address a general audience. The Pope recovers.
May 15 - Donna Payant is murdered by serial killer Lemuel Smith, the first time a female prison officer has been killed on-duty in the United States.
May 22 - Peter Sutcliffe is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on 13 counts of murder and 7 of attempted murder in England.
May 26 - The Italian government resigns over its links to the fascist Masonic cell Propaganda Due.
May 30 - Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman is assassinated in Chittagong. May 31 - Burning of Jaffna library, one of the most violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm of the century.
July 2 - Wonderland murders: The Wonderland Gang of cocaine dealers is brutally murdered in a massacre involving Eddie Nash in Los Angeles.
July 3 - The Toxteth riots in Liverpool, England, start after a mob saves a youth from being arrested. Shortly afterward, the Chapeltown riots in Leeds start after increased racial tension.
July 7 - United States President Ronald Reagan nominates the first woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, to the Supreme Court of the United States.
July 8 - 1981 Irish hunger strike: Irish republican volunteer Joe McDonnell dies at HM Prison Maze (Long Kesh) in Northern Ireland after a 61-day hunger strike.
July 9 - is released, marking the first Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Mario smash hit arcade game developed by Nintendo in Japan.
July 16- 21 - England become the first team this century to win a cricket Test match after the follow-on when they beat Australia by 18 runs at Headingley cricket ground, Leeds, England.
July 19 - The 1981 Springbok Tour commences in New Zealand, amid controversy over the support of apartheid.
July 21 - Panda Tohui is born in Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City, the first panda to ever be born and survive in captivity outside of China.
July 29 - A worldwide television audience of over 750 million people watch the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral in London. July 30 - Summer 1981 hunger demonstrations in Poland: As many as 50,000 demonstrators, mostly women and children, take to the streets in ?ód? to protest food ration shortages in Communist Poland.
September 1 - Gregorio Conrado Álvarez is inaugurated as a military de facto President of Uruguay.
September 4 - An explosion at a mine in Zálu?í, Czechoslovakia, kills 65 people.
September 7 - British plantation company, Guthrie was taken over by the Malaysian government after successfully purchasing shares to become the major shareholder. This is famously called the 'Dawn Raid attack'.
September 8 - The first episode of the extremely popular British television sitcom , " Only Fools and Horses Big Brother", is shown on BBC One.
September 10 - Picasso's painting is moved from New York to Guernica Madrid.
September 16 - is first aired on Postman Pat BBC One in the United Kingdom.
September 17 - Ric Flair defeats Dusty Rhodes to win his first World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship in Kansas City.
September 18 - Capital punishment in France is abolished.
September 20 - The Brazilian river boat Sobral Santos capsizes in the Amazon River, Óbidos, Brazil, killing at least 300.
September 21 - Belize, formerly British Honduras, gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
September 27 - TGV high-speed rail service between Paris and Lyon, France begins.
September 27- 29 - Iran-Iraq War: Iranian forces break the Siege of Abadan in Operation Samen-ol-A'emeh. September 28 - The classic animated comedy espionage TV series debuts on Danger Mouse ITV in the U.K.
Date unknown January to March - Heavy snow causes many houses and buildings to collapse in northwestern Japan; 152 are killed.
Cuba suffers a major outbreak of Dengue fever, with 344,203 cases.  Use of
crack cocaine, a smokeable form of the drug, first reported in the United States and Caribbean. 
Luxor AB presents the ABC 800 computer.
Polybius, an urban legend game, is said to have been released in Portland, Oregon; there is no evidence for its existence. The
State Council of the People's Republic of China lists the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Guilin as those where the protection of historical and cultural heritage, as well as natural scenery, should be treated as a priority project.
Pepsi enters China.  The Millennium translation of Saint
Edward the Martyr's relics from Wareham to Shaftesbury in England is observed in a reenactment. China becomes the first country to ever reach a population of 1 billion around the end of 1981. 
January 2 - Maxi Rodríguez, Argentine footballer
January 3 - Eli Manning, American football player
January 4 - Silvy De Bie, Belgian singer
January 7 - Alex Auld, Canadian ice hockey goaltender
January 9 - Euzebiusz Smolarek, Polish footballer
January 16 - Marta Roure, Andorran singer and actress
January 18 - Otgonbayar Ershuu, Mongolian visual artist
January 24 - Carrie Coon, American actress
January 26 - Gustavo Dudamel, Venezuelan conductor
January 31 - Justin Timberlake, American actor and musician
March 5 - Hanna Alström, Swedish actress
March 6 - Ellen Muth, American actress
March 8 - Adam Jones, Welsh rugby union player
March 9 - Antonio Bryant, American football player
March 15 - Young Buck, American rapper
March 17 - Kyle Korver, American basketball player
March 24 - Philip Winchester, American actor
March 25 - Casey Neistat, American YouTube personality
March 26 - Luke Ford, Canadian-Australian actor
March 27 - Lin Jun Jie, Singaporean singer
April 3 - Arfius Arf, British artist
April 5 - Michael A. Monsoor, American Medal of Honor recipient (d. 2006)
April 6 - Eliza Coupe, American actress
April 11 - Alessandra Ambrosio, Brazilian model
April 13 - Brenden Shucart, American HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights activist, actor, and writer
April 14 - Shinjiro Koizumi, Japanese politician
April 17 - Hanna Pakarinen, Finnish singer
April 21 - Stephanie Larimore, American model
April 22 - Ken Dorsey, American football player
April 23 - Michelle Knight, American author and kidnap survivor
April 27 - Sandy Mölling, German pop singer
April 28 - Jessica Alba, American actress and businesswoman
April 30 - Emma Pierson, American Television Actress
June 5 - Jade Goody, British reality show star (d. 2009)
June 6 - Johnny Pacar, American actor
June 13 - Chris Evans, American actor
June 14 - Lonneke Engel, Dutch model
June 17 - Amrita Rao, Indian actress
Ella Chen, Taiwanese singer Yurin, Japanese actress, voice actress and singer
June 20 - Alisan Porter, American singer and actress
June 30 - Tom Burke, English actor
August 1 - Jordan Wall, American actor
August 9 - Li Jiawei, Singaporean Olympic table tennis player
August 11 - Sandi Thom, Scottish singer & songwriter
August 17 - Chris New, English actor
August 18 - Jan Frodeno, German triathlete
August 20 - Ben Barnes, English actor ( Prince Caspian)
August 22 - Ross Marquand, American actor ( ) The Walking Dead
August 26 - Nico Muhly, American contemporary classical composer
August 27 - Patrick J. Adams, Canadian actor and director
Charlie Frye, American National Football League quarterback Jake Owen, American country music singer-songwriter August 29
September 3 - Fearne Cotton, British television presenter
September 6 - Yumiko Cheng, Hong Kong singer
September 10 - Marco Chiudinelli, Swiss tennis player
September 13 - Angelina Love, Canadian professional wrestler
September 15 - Ben Schwartz, American actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, director, and producer
September 18 - Jennifer Tisdale, American actress
September 27 - Anand Giridharadas, American writer
September 28 - Melissa Claire Egan, American actress
October 4 - Paulien van Deutekom, Dutch speed skater (d. 2019)
October 5 - Enrico Fabris, Italian speed skater
October 7 - Austin Eubanks, American motivational speaker (d. 2019)
October 10 - Una Healy, Irish singer ( The Saturdays)
October 13 - Kele Okereke, English singer ( Bloc Party)
October 14 - Ruslan Alekhno, Russian-Belarusian singer
October 17 - Tsubasa Imai, Japanese actor, singer and dancer ( Tackey & Tsubasa)
October 19 - Christian Bautista, Filipino singer, actor, host, and model
October 21 - Nemanja Vidi?, Serbian football player
October 22 - Michael Fishman, American actor
December 1 - Seb Dance, English politician
December 2 - Britney Spears, American singer and entertainer
December 6 - Lior Suchard, Israeli mentalist
December 8 - Philip Rivers, American football player
December 9 - Dia Mirza, Bollywood actress
December 12 - Spencer Johnson, NFL player
December 13 - Amy Lee, American pianist/singer-songwriter ( Evanescence)
December 14 - Amber Chia, Malaysian model and actress
December 20 - Leo Bertos, New Zealand footballer
December 21 - Cristian Zaccardo, Italian footballer
December 24 - Dima Bilan, Russian pop-singer
December 26 - Nikolai Nikolaeff, Australian actor
Kyle Eckel, American National Football League player December 31
January 6 - A. J. Cronin, Scottish novelist (b. 1896)
January 7 - John Pascal, American playwright, screenwriter, author and journalist (b. 1932)
January 8 - Matthew Beard, American actor (b. 1925)
January 11 - Beulah Bondi, American actress (b. 1889)
January 12 - Sir John Nicoll, British colonial governor (b. 1899)
January 13 - Robert Kellard, American actor (b. 1915)
January 16 - Bernard Lee, English actor (b. 1908)
January 19 - Francesca Woodman, American photographer (b. 1958)
January 21 - Allyn Joslyn, American actor (b. 1901)
January 25 - Adele Astaire, American actress (b. 1896)
January 27 - Léo Collard, Belgian Socialist politician (b. 1902)
January 29 - Lajos Korányi, Hungarian footballer (b. 1907)
January 30 - John Gordon, Irish Roman Catholic bishop (b. 1912) January 31 - Cozy Cole, American jazz drummer (b. 1909)
February 2 - Hugh Joseph Addonizio, Italian-born American politician and Mayor of Newark (b. 1914)
February 3 - Normand Poirier, French-born American newspaper editor, journalist and essayist (b. 1928)
February 4 - Mario Camerini, Italian film director and screenwriter (b. 1895)
February 6 - Frederica of Hanover, Queen Consort of the Hellenes and wife of King Paul of Greece (b. 1917)
February 7 - Hermann Esser, German journalist and editor of the Nazi newspaper (b. Völkischer Beobachter 1900)
February 10 - Hubert Shirley-Smith, British civil engineer (b. 1901)
February 12 - Bruce Fraser, 1st Baron Fraser of North Cape, British admiral (b. 1888)
February 15 - Karl Richter, German conductor (b. 1926)
February 17 - David Garnett, British writer (b. 1892)
February 27 - Jacob H. Gilbert, American politician (b. 1920)
March 1 - Roberto Francisco Chiari Remón, 14th President of Panama (b. 1903)
March 4 - Torin Thatcher, American actor (b. 1905)
March 5 - Yip Harburg, American lyricist (b. 1896)
March 6 - George Geary, English cricketer (b. 1893)
March 8 - Joseph Henry Woodger, British theoretical biologist (b. 1894)
March 9 - Max Delbrück, German biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1906)
March 10 - Flavio Calzavara, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1900)
March 15 - René Clair, French film director (b. 1898)
March 20 - Gerry Bertier, American college football player (b. 1953)
March 21 - Mark Donskoy, Russian Soviet film director (b. 1901)
March 26 - Cyril Dean Darlington, English biologist, geneticist and eugenicist, (b. 1903)
March 29 - Eric Williams, 1st Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (b. 1911)
March 31 - Frank Tieri, American gangster (b. 1904)
April 3 - Juan Trippe, Airline entrepreneur (b. 1899)
April 4 - Brad Johnson, American actor (b. 1924)
April 6 - Alfredo Guarini, Italian director, producer and screenwriter (b. 1901)
April 7 - Norman Taurog, American film director (b. 1899)
April 13 - Prince Yasuhiko Asaka of Japan (b. 1887)
April 17 - Ludwik Sempoli?ski, Polish actor (b. 1899)
April 18 - James H. Schmitz, German-born writer (b. 1911)
April 22 - Marcia King, murder victim (b. 1959)
April 27 - John Aspinwall Roosevelt, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1916) April 28 - Cliff Battles, American football player ( Boston Redskins) and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (b. 1910)
May 1 - Barry Jones, American actor (b. 1893)
May 5 - Bobby Sands, Irish republican hunger striker (b. 1954)
May 6 - Frank O'Grady, Australian public servant (b. 1900)
May 7 - Hiromichi Yahara, Imperial Japanese Army officer (b. 1902)
May 12 - Benjamin Sheares, Singaporean politician and professor, 2nd President of Singapore (b. 1907)
May 13 - Ben Andrews, American actor (b. 1942)
May 17 - Hugo Friedhofer, German-American film composer (b. 1901)
May 20 - Dositej, Metropolitan of Skopje (b. 1906)
May 21 - Yuki Shimoda, American actor (b. 1921)
May 22 - Boris Sagal, Ukrainian-American television and film director (b. 1923)
May 29 - Soong Ching-ling, Acting head of State of the People's Republic of China (b. 1893)
June 1 - Carl Vinson, U.S. Congressman (b. 1883)
June 2 - Rino Gaetano, Italian musician and singer-songwriter (b. 1950)
June 5 - Miguel Contreras Torres, Mexican actor, director, producer and screenwriter (b. 1899)
June 9 - Allen Ludden, American television game show host (b. 1917)
June 12 - Mahmoud Fawzi, Egyptian diplomat and political figure, 35th Prime Minister of Egypt (b. 1900)
June 13 - George Walsh, American actor (b. 1889)
June 14 - Sir Ronald Holmes, British government official in Hong Kong (b. 1913)
June 16 - Sir Thomas Playford, Australian politician, Premier of South Australia (b. 1891)
June 18 - Pamela Hansford Johnson, English poet, novelist, playwright, literary and social critic (b. 1912)
June 23 - Zarah Leander, Swedish actress and singer (b. 1907) June 28
July 3 - Ross Martin, American actor (b. 1920)
July 7 - Qahtan Muhammad al-Shaabi, South Yemenite socialist leader, 1st President of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen ( South Yemen) (b. 1920)
July 16 - Harry Chapin, American singer and songwriter (b. 1942)
July 22 - Manuela de Jesús Arias Espinosa, Mexican Roman Catholic religious professed and Blessed (b. 1904)
July 28 - Stanley Francis Rother, American priest, martyr, and Blessed (b. 1935)
July 29 - Robert Moses, American urban planner (b. 1888) July 31 - Omar Torrijos, Panamanian leader (b. 1929)
September 2 - Enid Lyons, Australia politician (b. 1897)
September 3 - Alec Waugh, British novelist (b. 1898)
Edwin Albert Link, American pioneer in aviation, underwater archaeology, and submersibles, and inventor of aeronautical, navigation, and oceanographic equipment (b. 1904) Christy Brown, Irish writer and painter (b. 1932)
September 11 - Frank McHugh, American actor (b. 1898)
September 12 - Eugenio Montale, Italian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1896)
September 14 - Charles L. Melson, American admiral (b. 1904)
September 21 - Nigel Patrick, English actor (b. 1912)
September 22 - Harry Warren, American songwriter (b. 1893)
September 23 - Chief Dan George, Canadian actor and writer, tribal chief of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation (b. 1899)
September 24 - Patsy Kelly, American actress (b. 1910)
September 27 - Robert Montgomery, American actor and director (b. 1904)
October 3 - Chrysostom Blashkevich, Soviet Benedict monk (b. 1915)
October 4 - Freddie Lindstrom, American baseball player ( New York Giants) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1905)
October 5 - Gloria Grahame, American actress (b. 1923)
October 6 - Anwar Sadat, 37th Prime Minister of Egypt and 3rd President of Egypt, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (assassinated) (b. 1918)
October 20 - Mary Coyle Chase, American playwright (b. 1906)
October 22 - Michael Granger, American actor (b. 1923)
October 23 - Reg Butler, English sculptor (b. 1913)
October 24 - Edith Head, American costume designer (b. 1897)
October 25 - Barbara Bedford, American actress (b. 1903)
October 27 - John Warburton, British actor (b. 1899) October 29 - Georges Brassens, French singer and songwriter (b. 1921)
December 2 - Wallace Harrison, American architect (b. 1895)
December 3 - Walter Knott, American farmer and theme park creator (b. 1889)
December 6 - Harry Harlow, American psychologist (b. 1905)
December 7 - William Edmunds, Italian stage and screen character actor (b. 1886)
December 8 - Ferruccio Parri, Italian partisan and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1905)
December 13 - Cornelius Cardew, English composer (b. 1936)
December 18 - Enrique Hertzog, Bolivian politician, 49th President of Bolivia (b. 1896)
December 26 - Suat Hayri Urguplu, Turkish politician, 11th Prime Minister of Turkey (b. 1903)
December 27 - Hoagy Carmichael, American jazz composer (b. 1899)
December 30 - Alfie Anido, Filipino actor (b. 1959)
"China loses its allure".
"NAMM Exhibitor Manual-Summer 1981". namm.org . Retrieved 2018.
"The Bombing of Beirut". . Journal of Palestine Studies 11 (1): 218-225. 1981. doi: 10.1525/jps.1981.11.1.00p0366x.
"Missile is Fored by North Koreans at U.S. Spy Plane Near the DMZ". The New York Times. August 27, 1981.
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 19, 2013 . Retrieved 2017. CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
"European Severe Weather Database". www.eswd.eu.
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 4, 2005 . Retrieved 2005. CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
DEA History Book, 1876-1990" (drug usage & enforcement), US Department of Justice, 1991, USDoJ.gov webpage: DoJ-DEA-History-1985-1990.
"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2013 . Retrieved 2013. CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
"Chinese Population Hits 1 Billion".
"First Team | Yaniv Katan". mhaifafc.com.
"Lucas Licht | Gimnasia La Plata | Stats | News | Profile - Yahoo Canada Sports". ca.sports.yahoo.com.
"Scott Lipsky | Overview | ATP Tour | Tennis". ATP Tour.
Publishing, Bloomsbury (November 19, 2015). . Bloomsbury Publishing. Whitaker's Shorts 2016: Governance ISBN – via Google Books. 9781472921987
"Lover Of Music Life And Love on Instagram: "Ok @wikipedia my birthday isn't today wanting to set the record straight as I keep getting birthday messages... it's 21st September !!! And.... "" Instagram.
^ David Bolchover (2017).
The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide To Football Glory; The Story of Béla Guttman