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8 Movie Star-Filled Music Videos from the 1980s

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Musicians aren’t the only entertainers who like to flex their performing muscles; actors occasionally can’t resist the lure of regular MTV rotation. That was the trend for a while during the 1980s, anyway. Most of the title songs from films that hit the Top 40 were turned into music videos simply by splicing together a hodgepodge of clips from the movie, but there were some actors who took the trouble to actually appear in the accompanying videos. Whether it was a chance to ham it up with their favorite singers or because the studio ordered them to participate, the results were usually more interesting than the standard collection of movie clips.

1. “GHOSTBUSTERS” (1984) // RAY PARKER JR.

Ray Parker Jr. was not particularly interested in writing/recording the theme song for Ghostbusters; his forte was songs about romance, not the paranormal. So he was even less enthusiastic about appearing in the video for the song. When he saw the sparse set outlined in neon, he worried that he was going to look silly prancing around while miming the lyrics. So he suggested to director Ivan Reitman that maybe if he could get some of the guys from the movie to appear in the video, even if just long enough to shout “Ghostbusters!,” the audience would understand that the clip was supposed to be humorous.

Reitman liked the idea and ran with it, popping a cassette of the tune into a boombox and calling on various industry friends (or actors who happened to be working nearby, such as John Candy on the set of Brewster’s Millions), with a small camera crew in tow. George Wendt, like the other cameo actors, did not get paid for his appearance, which later got him into hot water with the Screen Actors Guild and set the wheels in motion for SAG to begin organizing the music video industry.

2. “WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING” (1985) // BILLY OCEAN

The Jewel of the Nile producer Michael Douglas was savvy enough to have kept his eye on MTV and the previous videos that had helped to promote films (particularly Eddy Grant’s “Romancing the Stone”) and thus was the driving force behind the video accompanying Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough.”

Douglas enlisted his The Jewel of the Nile co-stars Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito to perform with him as a “doo-wop” type of backup group. The trio of actors had three hours of rehearsal to learn their Temptations-style moves, and they actually sang along to the track as it played, rather than simply lip-syncing. “We were singing our a**es off,” Douglas told People magazine in 1986. “You begin to believe in yourself until they turn the sound off and you’re there croaking.”

3. “ST. ELMO’S FIRE (MAN IN MOTION)” (1985) // JOHN PARR

David Foster, the record producer in charge of the soundtrack of the 1985 Brat Pack angst-filled film St. Elmo’s Fire, approached British singer/songwriter John Parr with the idea of writing a theme song for the movie. Interestingly enough, Foster didn’t provide Parr with any scenes from the movie; instead he showed him some film footage of Canadian Paralympian Rick Hansen who, inspired by fellow Canadian Terry Fox’s “Marathon of Hope,” launched a 26-month “Man in Motion” trek across 34 countries on four continents in his wheelchair.

When it came time to film the video for the song, it had to be shot within a 24-hour timeframe, due to some of Parr’s previous commitments. The stars of the film assembled on a set structured to resemble a decrepit version of the old watering hole they frequented in the movie. Parr later admitted that he didn’t recognize any of the actors—the “Brat Pack” had not yet made an impact in the U.K.—and thought that they were “just kids." Having starred in a few school plays in his youth, he even offered them a couple of acting tips. (Mare Winningham, who played Wendy in the film, was actually three months pregnant while filming St. Elmo’s Fire, and even more so when the music video was shot, which is why she’s holding a folded-up winter coat in front of her tummy during her close-up.)

4. “SPIES LIKE US” (1985) // PAUL MCCARTNEY

John Landis directed both the film and the music video for the title song of Spies Like Us. Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd traveled to London to lark about Abbey Road Studios with Sir Paul McCartney. The U.K. refused to air the video until it was reedited to remove scenes of Chase “playing” the keyboard and Donna Dixon and Vanessa Angel singing backup, because they were not members of the Musicians Union.

5. “THE GOONIES ‘R’ GOOD ENOUGH” (1985) // CYNDI LAUPER

Steven Spielberg invited Cyndi Lauper to be the musical director for the soundtrack to his 1985 adventure film The Goonies. Lauper was disappointed with the final result, not only because Spielberg cut most of the music from the film—making the soundtrack “meaningless” in Lauper’s opinion—but because the title of her song “Good Enough” was changed to “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.” Studio execs believed that listeners wouldn’t associate the song with the movie unless “Goonies” was in the title; Lauper thought the new title sounded “cheesy.”

Nevertheless, she filmed a long-form, two-part video for the song, which featured not only members of the movie’s cast but also several WWF stars like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, and André the Giant. “We were spaced out because it was Saturday after a long week,” Sean Astin recalled, “but we flipping loved that song and wanted to do lots of vids with the Great Cyndi Lauper!"

6. “PRINCES OF THE UNIVERSE” (1986) // QUEEN

Queen was commissioned to provide the soundtrack to the 1986 film Highlander, and “Princes of the Universe” (which was played over the main titles) was the only track on the album to be credited solely to Freddie Mercury. The video that accompanied the song was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who also helmed Highlander, and was filmed at London’s Elstree Studios.

There was great attention to detail (not to mention expense) on the set when it came to recreating the Silvercup rooftop scene with scenes of the medieval crumbling castle in the background. Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor were dutifully clad in official Connor MacLeod trench coats (“Macs” to U.K. readers) for the occasion. Highlander star Christopher Lambert flew in from Paris just to film a quick “sword battle” with Mercury for the video. Lambert told Entertainment Tonight that he totally enjoyed the experience; that it was like being witness to a private Queen concert.

7. “SWEET FREEDOM” (1986) // MICHAEL MCDONALD

“Sweet Freedom” wasn’t technically the theme song to Running Scared, the 1986 buddy cop film starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines; that honor belongs to Fee Waybill’s “Running Scared,” which played over the opening credits. But the lead singer of The Tubes didn’t have the Top 40 marquee value of Michael McDonald, who’d fronted the Doobie Brothers for seven years and had several top 10 hits under his belt. “Sweet Freedom” was produced by Rod Temperton, who wrote Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller,” and was heavy with the percussive synth-bass that was the 1980s movie backdrop “sound.” Crystal and Hines joined McDonald to “sing” along on the chorus, luckily in more toned-down plumage than they sported in the film during this Key West musical montage.

8. “CITY OF CRIME” (1987) // DAN AYKROYD AND TOM HANKS

Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks aren’t known for being singers, much less rappers, but they gamely recorded the closing theme for their 1987 big-screen version of Dragnet. Paula Abdul devised the choreography for the music video, recycling some of the moves she taught ZZ Top for their “Velcro Fly” video.

During a 2015 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Hanks busted a few rhymes from the song “that will haunt him for the rest of his life” and also revealed that “City of Crime” was the first video he ever saw on YouTube—courtesy of his children, who couldn’t wait to taunt him with it.

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10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.

1. SHE WAS A JAZZ FAN FROM A YOUNG AGE.

Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

2. SHE DABBLED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AS A TEENAGER.

A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.

3. SHE MADE HER STAGE DEBUT AT THE APOLLO THEATER.

In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.

4. A NURSERY RHYME HELPED HER GET THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION.

Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."

5. SHE WAS PAINFULLY SHY.

Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."

6. SHE MADE HER FILM DEBUT IN AN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MOVIE.

As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

7. SHE GOT SOME HELP FROM MARILYN MONROE.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.

8. SHE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN A GRAMMY.

Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.

9. HER FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS AT CARNEGIE HALL.

On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.

10. SHE LOST BOTH OF HER LEGS TO DIABETES.

In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.

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30 Fierce Barbra Streisand Quotes
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images

Barbra Streisand is an artist of many talents. In addition to her famed singing and songwriting career, she’s also a celebrated actress and filmmaker with a host of accolades and awards—including two Oscars, nine Golden Globes, 10 Grammys, six Emmys, and one Tony—on her resume (so far). While Streisand, who turns 76 years old today, may be one of the best-selling artists of all time, what truly makes her memorable is her total originality. While her creative talents made her a star, her no-nonsense attitude has made her an icon, as evidenced by the quotes below.

1. ON HER WILD YOUTH.

“I was kind of a wild child. I wasn't taught the niceties of life.”

2. ON PURSUING YOUR DREAMS.

“As a young woman, I wanted nothing more than to see my name in lights.”

3. ON REMAINING TRUE TO ONESELF.

“I arrived in Hollywood without having my nose fixed, my teeth capped, or my name changed. That is very gratifying to me.”

4. ON INSTINCT.

“I go by instinct—I don't worry about experience.”

5. ON BEING CONTRADICTORY.

Barbra Streisand on stage
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

“I was a personality before I became a person—I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven.”

6. ON TRUSTING YOURSELF.

“You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.”

7. ON THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS.

“Success to me is having 10 honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice.”

8. ON APPLAUSE.

“What does it mean when people applaud? Should I give 'em money? Say thank you? Lift my dress? The lack of applause—that I can respond to.”

9. ON BAD REVIEWS.

“I wish I could be like [George Bernard] Shaw, who once read a bad review of one of his plays, called the critic, and said: 'I have your review in front of me and soon it will be behind me.’”

10. ON THE DEFINITION OF “EGO.”

Barbra Streisand addresses her fans
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images

“To have ego means to believe in your own strength. And to also be open to other people's views. It is to be open, not closed. So, yes, my ego is big, but it's also very small in some areas. My ego is responsible for my doing what I do—bad or good.”

11. ON DOUBLE STANDARDS.

“Men are allowed to have passion and commitment for their work ... a woman is allowed that feeling for a man, but not her work.”

12. ON SAYING WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND.

“I knew that with a mouth like mine, I just had to be a star or something.”

13. ON THE LESS GLAMOROUS SIDE OF SHOW BUSINESS.

“I don't enjoy public performances and being up on a stage. I don't enjoy the glamour. Like tonight, I am up on stage and my feet hurt.”

14. ON GETTING IT RIGHT.

“I don't care what you say about me. Just be sure to spell my name wrong.”

15. ON FOLLOWING YOUR HEART.

A photo of Barbra Streisand
Harry Benson, Express/Getty Images

“Nobody on this earth has the right to tell anyone that their love for another human being is morally wrong.”

16. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTH.

“I can take any truth; just don't lie to me.”

17. ON KEEPING IT SIMPLE.

“I like simple things. Elastic waists, so I can eat.”

18. ON WHY BEING “DIFFICULT” CAN BE A GOOD THING.

“I've been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.”

19. ON LIMITATIONS.

“I just don't want to be hampered by my own limitations.”

20. ON THE TRUTHFULNESS OF AN AUDIENCE.

"The audience is the best judge of anything. They cannot be lied to. Truth brings them closer. A moment that lags—they're gonna cough.”

21. ON FINDING THE PERFECT MATCH.

Barbra Streisand and James Brolin
Sonia Moskowitz, Getty Images

“What is exciting is not for one person to be stronger than the other ... but for two people to have met their match and yet they are equally as stubborn, as obstinate, as passionate, as crazy as the other.”

22. ON THE FUTILITY OF MYTHS.

“Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.”

23. ON THE NATURE OF PERFORMING.

“Performing, for me, has always been a very inner process.”

24. ON THE DOWNSIDE OF STARDOM.

“I think when I was younger, I wanted to be a star, until I became a star, and then it's a lot of work. It's work to be a star. I don't enjoy the stardom part. I only enjoy the creative process.”

25. ON THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE.

“Sometimes you resent the people you love and need the most. Love is so fascinating in all its forms, and I think everyone who has ever been a mother will relate to this.”

26. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DOUBTING YOURSELF.

Barbra Streisand poses for the press
Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

"Doubt can motivate you, so don't be afraid of it. Confidence and doubt are at two ends of the scale, and you need both. They balance each other out."

27. ON AMBITION.

"I've always liked working really hard and then doing nothing in particular. So, consequently, I didn't overexpose myself; I guess I maintained a kind of mystery. I wasn't ambitious."

28. ON CONSTANTLY EVOLVING.

“I'm a work in progress.”

29. ON HER FAMOUS NOSE.

“I've considered having my nose fixed. But I didn't trust anyone enough. If I could do it myself with a mirror.”

30. ON BEING AN ORIGINAL.

Barbra Streisand with Barack Obama
Alex Wong, Getty Images

“I guess if you have an original take on life, or something about you is original, you don't have to study people who came before you. You don't have to mimic anybody. You just have a gut feeling inside, an instinct that tells you what's right for you, and you can't do it in any other way.”

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