Friday, July 20, 2012

1984 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - Los Angeles (entire ceremony)

The Games of the XXIII Olympiad
Los Angeles, California
Opening Ceremony of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Use of a Jet Pack During the Opening Ceremony
  • First Stadium to Host Two Opening Ceremonies (1932, 1984)
  • First Country to Host Three Summer Olympic Games (1904 St. Louis - 1932, 1984 Los Angeles)
  • First Ceremony to Present the Artistic Portion Before the Ceremonial Portion (current design)
  • First Ceremony to Use Audience as Artistic Participants (card stunt)
  • First Use of a Gospel Choir
  • First Use of Pianos (most pianos used - 85)
  • Most Nations Participating (140) - previous Munich 1972 (121)
  • Most Olympic Events (221) - previous Moscow (203)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Protested Olympic Torch Relay (people could purchase a spot in the relay for $3,000; this move was objected by the Greek Olympic Committee; the torch lighting and relay in Europe was performed privately, secretly transported to Athens by helicopter, and then by Air-Force One to New York under heavy security to ensure the Olympic tradition continued.  The previous plan was to have the flame kindled at the Olympic headquarteres in Switzerland and "electronically" transmitted, a bogus relay method, to a computer in New York - similar to the relay of Montreal 1976 - the purchase program raised $10 million for American youth and handicap organizations)
  • First Use of the Same Olympic Cauldron Twice (Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics - the same cauldron was used in both games)
  • First Person of African Descent to Light the Olympic Flame
Opening Ceremony
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (92,516)
July 28, 1984

(viewer's guide in Ceremony Highlights below)
Video may take some time to load depending on connection

Opening Ceremony Highlights
The Olympic Committee in Los Angeles viewed the Opening Ceremony as an artistic competition against the massive show of Moscow 1980.  Of course this was at the height of the Cold War, so the organizing committee hired the best entertainers of the time to put on the show.  Disney was first hired to put on this show of shows in the world's entertainment capital.  Disney provided an artistic design of gigantic parade going through the streets of LA at double the cost the organizers intended, so Disney was replaced.  The committee took other entertainment professionals in Hollywood and created a show demonstrating the history of America through music.  Three musical pieces were commissioned for the ceremony - two of which have importance in music history 1.) John Williams' "Los Angeles Olympic Theme" - the most famous Olympic theme of all time and 2.) Philip Glass' "The Olympian" - used during the lighting of the cauldron.  The ceremony consisted of an 800 member marching band, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with 85 grand pianos, even the Moscow card stunt was "shown-up" with a massive 92,000 person card stunt displaying all the flags of the participating countries.  The ceremony was the most spectacular to this point in Olympic history.

  • "Los Angeles Olympic Theme" by John Williams performed
  • Skywriting airplanes spell out "welcome"; flower girls pass out thousands of welcome flowers
  • Rocketman flies into the stadium beginning the "welcome" song with thousands of balloons forming the Olympic Rings and releasing the balloons
  • President Reagan arrives with dignitaries to "Hail to the Chief"
  • National Anthem
  • Artistic Program "Music of America"
    • "Americana Suite" - 800 member marching band 
    • "Pioneer Spirit" - 410 person ballet - moving west in covered wagons, forming a town with movable props 
    • "Dixieland Jamboree" - 300 member Gospel choir and Etta James 
    • "Urban Rhapsody" - 84 black grands and 1 white, with orchestra and 200 dancers, perform Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"  
    • "The World is a Stage" - 1940's big band with 1,500 dancers
    • "Finale" - Cast forms map of the US
  • Card Stunt forming flags of all the participating nations 
  • "Los Angeles Olympic Theme" by John Williams performed 
  • "Antwerp" Olympic Flag presented to Los Angeles Mayor 
  • Parade of Nations 
  • President of the United States declares the games open 
  • Olympic Flag enters the stadium and is raised to the Olympic Hymn; 4,000 homing pigeons released - not 2,500 as stated in film 
  • "The Olympian" by Philip Glass is performed as the torch enters the stadium; cauldron is lit by Rafer Johnson (Gold Medalist - Decathlon 1960; Silver Medalist - Decathlon 1956)
  • Athlete's and Official's Oaths
  • Children's Choir performs "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven Symphony No. 9 Mvt. 4
  • "Reach Out and Touch" performed by Vicki McClure 
Gold Medal from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Olympic Torch from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Official Poster from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

Olympic Cauldron from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles - the same cauldron from the 1932 games

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