L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 3: 1984 Olympics opening
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We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.
No. 3: The 1984 Summer Olympics opening ceremony (17 first-place votes, 3,586 points)
The 1984 Summer Olympics were kicked off by what many still consider the greatest opening ceremony in Olympics history. Where else will you ever see 84 pianists playing ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ a guy flying with a jet pack, Rafer Johnson lighting the Olympic torch, President Reagan, Sam the Eagle and a standing ovation for Romania, the only Communist-bloc country to attend the Games?
In response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, 14 countries including the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany boycotted the Games. For differing reasons, Iran and Libya also boycotted. When the competitors representing Romania marched into the Coliseum during the parade of countries, the capacity Coliseum crowd all rose to give them a lengthy standing ovation.
The David L. Wolper-produced opening ceremony mesmerized those inside the Coliseum as well as those at home, with ABC’s Jim McKay and Peter Jennings handling the commentary.
But perhaps the most inspiring performance came courtesy of composer-conductor John Williams, already famous for his Hollywood scores (‘Jaws,’ ‘Star Wars’ and others). His ‘Olympic Fanfare and Theme’ -- particularly its signature fanfare of trumpets at the start -- produced goose bumps and became synonymous with the Olympics. It later brought Williams one of his many Grammy Awards. Williams himself conducted the orchestra during the opening ceremony.