30 years ago today, Navy fighter pilot hotshots Maverick, Iceman, and Goose first flew across big screens around the world. It was on May 16, 1986 that Top Gun opened in theaters.
Already well on his way to becoming a household name thanks to 1983″s Risky Business, Tom Cruise became a certified movie star with the release of Top Gun. It was also the first hit for director Tony Scott, who went on to direct other action flicks and thrillers like Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, and Déjà Vu (which reunited him with Top Gun star Val Kilmer) before his death in 2012.
Top Gun, a slick, upbeat, Reagan-era ode to masculinity, boasted a memorable soundtrack (with Berlin”s “Take My Breath Away” and Kenny Loggins” “Danger Zone”), impressive dogfights, an endlessly quotable though often goofy script, and, upon its release, immediate box office success. It became the highest grossing movie of 1986.
Also on this day, 20 years ago, Seinfeld killed Susan. It seemed that there was a wedding episode impending for the “90s sitcom, but George Constanza”s fiancée, Susan, died in the season 7 finale after licking too much low-quality glue for their wedding invitations. (George picked the cheapest brand in the store.) When fans decried the tastelessness of Susan”s demise and the other characters” indifferent response, Seinfeld responded with a season 8 premiere that had Jerry and George showing emotion not at Susan”s grave but when they remember Spock”s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
That May 16, 1996 episode, titled “The Invitations,” it was the last episode written by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David until he returned to write the series finale in 1998.
Other notable May 16 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1929: At the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony, held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Wings won Best Picture (then called Outstanding Picture). Douglas Fairbanks, who was AMPAS president at the time, hosted the event.
• 1946: Annie Get Your Gun premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre.
• 1955: Michael Redgrave film The Dam Busters premiered in London, 12 years after the May 16, 1943 Royal Air Force attack on German dams that was the basis for the film.
• 1966: The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds was released.
• 1980: Fame opened in theaters.
• 1984: Andy Kaufman died. Decades after his passing, rumors that he faked his own death persist.
• 1986: In Dallas” season 9 finale, Bobby Ewing – who had died in the season 8 finale – was revealed to be alive, showering in his ex-wife Pam”s bathroom. In the season 10 premiere, it was revealed that Bobby”s death and the entire 1985-1986 season was a dream of Pam”s the night after they agreed to remarry.
• 1987: U2 scored their first number-one single in the U.S. when “With or Without You” hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
• 1990: Muppets creator Jim Henson and Oceans 11 actor-singer-dancer Sammy Davis Jr. died.
• 2000: Britney Spears album Oops!… I Did It Again was released.
• 2002: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones opened in theaters.
• 2005: Sony unveiled PlayStation 3 to the public at E3.
Birthdays: James Bond franchise actor Pierce Brosnan (turns 63 today), Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor David Boreanaz (47), Love Actually actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster (26), John Carter actress Lynn Collins (39), Transformers actress Megan Fox (30), singer Janet Jackson (50), Up in the Air actress Melanie Lynskey (39), The Vampire Diaries actor Joseph Morgan (35), Falling Skies actor Drew Roy (30), Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Tori Spelling (43), Across the Universe actor Jim Sturgess (38), Machete actor Danny Trejo (72)