1987 is a common year starting on Thursday.
- January 1 - Nunavut's capital changes it name to Iqaluit from Frobisher Bay.
- January 3 - Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- January 4 - An Amtrak train en route from Washington, DC to New York collides with CONRAIL engines killing 16.
- January 5 - US President Ronald Wilson Reagan undergoes prostate surgery causing worries about his health.
- January 20 - Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, is kidnapped in Beirut (released November 1991)
- January 22 - In Pennsylvania, R. Budd Dwyer, Treasurer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shoots himself at a press conference after being found guilty on charges of bribery, fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.
- January 24 - In Lebanon, gunmen kidnap Alann Steen, Jesse Turner, Robert Polhill and Mitheleshwar Singh.
- January 29 - William J. Casey ends his term as a director of CIA
- December 1 - NASA announces the names of four companies who were awarded contracts to help build the International Space Station: Boeing Aerospace, General Electric's Astro-Space Division, McDonnell Douglas, and the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell
- December 1 - Channel Tunnel digging commences
- Monday, December 7, 1987 - Delaware celebrates its bicentennial statehood.
- Saturday, December 12, 1987 - Pennsylvania celebrates its bicentennial statehood.
- Friday, December 18, 1987 - New Jersey celebrates its bicentennial statehood.
- December 8 - first Intifada begins
- December 20 - Dona Paz collides with Vector I - 749 confirmed deaths (probably closer to 3,000 due to unregistered passengers)
- December 29 - Prozac® makes its debut in the US
Year in Topic
- 1987 in film
- Friday, February 6, 1987 - Black Widow
- Friday, March 6, 1987 - Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover
- Saturday, May 16, 1987 - Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold
- Wednesday, May 20, 1987 - Beverly Hills Cop 2 starring Eddie Murphy
- Friday, June 12, 1987 - Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Friday, June 26, 1987 - Dragnet
- Friday, July 17, 1987 - Jaws 4: The Revenge
- Friday, November 13, 1987 - The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
- The Untouchables
- 1987 in literature
- 1987 in music
- 1987 in science
- 1987 in sports
- 1987 in television
- CBS becomes the last American network to cease a chime intonation at the beginning of telecasts; satellite feeds have made the tones obsolete (their job was to signal to the affiliates to start airing the network feed in sync with everyone else).
- Sunday, April 5, 1987 - Married... with Children premieres on the FOX television network.
- March 9 - Bow Wow, rap musician, actor
- March 9 - Pikku G, Finnish rap musician
- April 11 - Joss Stone, musician
- April 19 - Maria Sharapova, tennis player
- May 21 - Ashlie Brillault, actress (Lizzie McGuire)
- June 3 - Lalaine, actress (Lizzie McGuire)
- September 22 - Tom Felton, actor (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
- September 28 - Hilary Duff, actress, singer (Lizzie McGuire, Agent Cody Banks)
- December 7 - Aaron Carter, singer
- January 15 - Ray Bolger, actor, singer, dancer
- February 2 - Alistair MacLean, British thriller writer, heart attack
- February 4 - Liberace
- February 22 - Andy Warhol, artist, director, writer
- March 2 - Randolph Scott, actor
- March 3 - Danny Kaye, actor, singer, comedian
- March 19 - Louis-Victor de Broglie, physicist and winner 1929 of the Nobel Prize in Physics
- March 21 - Robert Preston and Dean Paul Martin, actors
- March 26 - Eugen Jochum, German conductor (b. 1902)
- March 28 - Maria von Trapp, singer
- April 2 - Buddy Rich, drummer
- April 4 - C. L. Moore, science fiction writer
- April 28 - Ben Linder, American engineer murdered in Nicaragua
- May 3 - Dalida, French singer
- May 6 - William Casey, controversial director of the CIA
- May 11 - Peter Tosh, musician
- May 14 - Rita Hayworth, actress
- May 19 - James Tiptree, Jr, science fiction author
- June 6 - Fulton Mackay, actor
- June 22 - Fred Astaire, actor
- July 10 - John Hammond, record producer (b. 1910)
- August 17 - Rudolf Hess, Hitler's second-in-command, commits suicide in Spandau Prison
- September 23 - Bob Fosse, theater choreographer and director
- October 3 - Kalervo Palsa, Finnish artist
- October 19 - Jacqueline Du Pré, English Cellist
- October 20 - Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov, Russian mathematician
- October 28 - André Masson, French artist
- October 29 - Woody Herman, jazz musician (b. 1913)
- October 31 - Joseph Campbell, author and expert on mythology
- December 10 - Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian violinist (b. 1901)
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