In a year marked by high hopes and deepening fears, big names and sweeping change, Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize, Saddam Hussein pushed the world to the brink of war and "The Godfather, Part III" opened on Christmas Day.
Margaret Thatcher got the boot, South African black leader Nelson Mandela was freed, the Cold War formally ended and the upstart Cincinnati Reds won the World Series.1990 began with peace and the illusion of prosperity, but ended in a recession and with hundreds of thousands of American troops in the Persian Gulf ready for combat.
"Let me assure you, should military action be required, this will not be another Vietnam," President Bush assured a concerned nation. "This will not be a protracted, drawn-out war."
Taxes went up. So did unemployment, oil prices and the murder rate. Real estate prices dropped, along with voter turnout and drug use. The stock market rose and fell, sometimes on the same day.
The year was marked by transition.
Saving was in and spending was out.
Work boots were in and loafers were out.
Bart Simpson was in and Bill Cosby was out.
East Germany and West Germany were reunited, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda got engaged, Donald and Ivana Trump got divorced and Manuel Noriega got jailed.
Japan got glamorous and bought up Hollywood.
Dan Quayle got a $45,000 raise, John Kennedy Jr. finally passed the New York bar exam, and Neil Bush became the "poster child" of the savings and loan scandal.
CBS founder William Pauley died at age 89. Actress Mary Martin died at 76. And AIDS victim Ryan White succumbed at the age of just 18.
Much of life unfolded in the courts.
The Supreme Court upheld rulings that prohibited begging in New York subways and required the Army to permit homosexuals to re-enlist. The high court also limited the ability of minors to get abortions.
Rap group 2 Live Crew was acquitted of obscenity charges, junk bond "king" Michael Milken was sentenced to 10 years for securities violations and Pete Rose got five months for tax evasion.
Imelda Marcos was acquitted of fraud, and John Gotti was accused of becoming head of the Mafia by plotting the 1985 murder of reputed mobster Paul Castellano.
There were lots of pressures.
McDonald's, under pressure from environmentalists, agreed to replace plastic food containers with paper. And Lauro Cavazos, pressed by White House chief of staff John Sununu, resigned as education secretary.
President Bush said, "I don't like broccoli," Roseanne Barr screeched the National Anthem and Washington Mayor Marion Barry, busted for cocaine in a girlfriend's hotel room, wailed, "The bitch set me up!"
White House occupants, past and present, wrote bestsellers.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan came out with a vindictive one, "My Turn," and Ronald Reagan penned his memoirs, "An American Life." Millie offered a tender view of dog's life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - "Millie's Book."
Many looked for new challenges.
William Bennett resigned as drug czar and planned to write a couple of books, and Elizabeth Dole stepped down as Labor Secretary to become head of the American Red Cross.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze abruptly quit, warning that his nation was headed toward a dictatorship.
The year's winners and losers came from all arenas.
Atlanta beat out Athens to become host of the 1996 Olympics, Lech Walesa was sworn in as the first popularly elected president in the thousand-year history of Poland, and heavyweight boxer Buster Douglas kayoed champ Mike Tyson - and then got flattened himself.
Republicans lost one seat in the Senate and 10 in the House.
Air Force chief of staff Michael Dugan was fired for talking too much and the Hubble Space Telescope was out of focus.
Congress couldn't decide much of anything, other than giving themselves a big pay raise. Bush decided to drop his "no new taxes" pledge, toughen the Clean Air Act and veto a civil rights bill.
There were human and natural tragedies.
Fire erupted in the canyons above Santa Barbara, Calif., and earthquakes rocked Iran and the Philippines. An arson fire swept a New York social club and a serial killer stalked students at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Israeli police killed 17 Moslems on Temple Mount.
Earth Day marked its 20th anniversary, the San Francisco 49ers won their second straight Super Bowl, Philippine President Corazon Aquino survived a seventh coup attempt and Rose Kennedy turned 100.
The world was indeed a busy place. It got more crowded, too.
During 1990, an estimated 52 million people died, 143 million were born and the Earth's population grew to 5,292,195,000. The Census Bureau counted heads across the U.S.A, 249,632,692 of them.