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1980s: "Halloweens of the past"

Zombies, the Rubber Duck and Miley Cyrus may have dominated costume choices in Pittsburgh this year. But those might not have been the spookiest costumes in the city’s history. Well, the duck was cute and brought lots of smiles to Pittsburgh in October. And Miley Cyrus… well, OK. That one IS creepy. 

The Post-Gazette photographic archive reveals not only pop culture trends Halloween costumes embodied but the past spirit of the holiday that tested the limits of people’s fears. There were lots of Ghostbusters in 1985. There were Madonnas and Jesse Jacksons, Big Bird, Kermit the Frog … and lots of photos of Pittsburghers getting carried away with their yard decorations. 

In mid 1980s zombies became a Halloween classic in Pittsburgh. That’s when the first George Romero fest took place. An article in the 1986 Post-Gazette reported, “Not every city can boast its own world-class monster maker. Not outside Transylvania anyway.” But Pittsburgh had Romero, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and started his career in Pittsburgh. He earned his fame for gruesome and satirical horror films about a zombie apocalypse, starting with “Night of the Living Dead.” 

— Mila Sanina  

Leland Hazard, vice president of Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. & president of WQED public television, 1955 (via) 
On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 18, 1980 
Leland Hazard, the philosopher of the Pittsburgh Renaissance, dies at the age of 87. [Historic Pittsburgh] 
Related: “Educational Television,” by Leland Hazard. Published in The Atlantic, 1955 

Leland Hazard, vice president of Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. & president of WQED public television, 1955 (via

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: August 18, 1980 

Leland Hazard, the philosopher of the Pittsburgh Renaissance, dies at the age of 87. [Historic Pittsburgh

Related: “Educational Television,” by Leland Hazard. Published in The Atlantic, 1955 

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: April 23, 1985
At the age of 90, Pittsburgh native Martha Graham is awarded the National Medal of Arts at a ceremony at the White House. [Wikipedia] 


Graham was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House, travel abroad as acultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the USA: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She said, “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: April 23, 1985

At the age of 90, Pittsburgh native Martha Graham is awarded the National Medal of Arts at a ceremony at the White House. [Wikipedia

Graham was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House, travel abroad as acultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the USA: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She said, “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

explodingcyberinevitable
April 2, 1980 — Andy Warhol’s Diaries entry for his meeting with Pope John Paul II:
“Fred and I had to leave for our private audience wth the pope…. We got our tickets and then the driver dropped us off at the Vatican…. They finally took us to our seats with the rest of the 5,000 people and a nun screamed out, “You’re Andy Warhol! Can I have your autograph?”  She looked like Valerie Solanis so I got scared she’d pull out a gun and shoot me.  Then I had to sign five more autographs for other nuns…. Then finally the pope was coming our way.  He shook everybody’s hand and I said I was fom New York, too.  I didn’t kiss his hand…. The mob behind was were jumping down from their seats, it was scary.  As soon as Fred and I got blessed we ran out.”

April 2, 1980 — Andy Warhol’s Diaries entry for his meeting with Pope John Paul II:

“Fred and I had to leave for our private audience wth the pope…. We got our tickets and then the driver dropped us off at the Vatican…. They finally took us to our seats with the rest of the 5,000 people and a nun screamed out, “You’re Andy Warhol! Can I have your autograph?”  She looked like Valerie Solanis so I got scared she’d pull out a gun and shoot me.  Then I had to sign five more autographs for other nuns…. Then finally the pope was coming our way.  He shook everybody’s hand and I said I was fom New York, too.  I didn’t kiss his hand…. The mob behind was were jumping down from their seats, it was scary.  As soon as Fred and I got blessed we ran out.”

On This Day in Pittsburgh History: March 14, 1989

Edward Abbey, environmentalist, anarchist and author of “Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” dies in Arizona.

"My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation’s history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time." 

Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989