Summer rewind: Looking back at 1994

Story highlights

  • Twenty years ago, the United States played host to soccer's World Cup
  • "Forrest Gump" and "The Lion King" reigned supreme at the box office
  • OJ Simpson led police on a low-speed chase through Los Angeles

"My mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on."

Wiser words were never spoken, Mr. Gump. But this summer, we've been ignoring Mama Gump's sage advice and looking back at summers past in search of a little nostalgic kick.

First, we revisited the "Freedom summer" of '64, then the "Me" summer of '74 and finally the totally tubular summer of '84. Now, as the end of the season draws near, let's revisit some of the most notable moments from 20 years ago, the summer of 1994.

Inspirational movies reigned supreme, electro-pop and boy bands ruled the radio, and the "crime of the century" was the talk of the country. Here's more on the summer that was:

Blockbusters and summer 1994 were like peas and carrots

"The Lion King" taught moviegoers young and old about the circle of life via the coming-of-age adventure of a young lion cub named Simba. With a little musical help from his friends, a warthog, a meerkat and Elton John, the movie became a roaring multiplatform success: After its June 15 release, the animated musical earned multiple Golden Globe, Oscar and Grammy nominations and was the highest-grossing film worldwide that year.

Meanwhile, the domestic box office was dominated by a simple man. His name? Forrest, Forrest Gump.

That summer, we also met "The Flintstones" in a live-action film that was received poorly by critics but ran the box office for several weekends after its May 27 release date. Thirty-two writers famously worked on the script, but one key line still remained: yabba-dabba-doo!

"The Mask" was another sssssmokin' late-summer hit: The slapstick comedy starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz made more than $23 million on its opening weekend of July 29.

And no summer movie season is complete without an action film -- or three: "True Lies," "Speed" and "Clear and Present Danger" all screeched onto the big screen in the summer of '94.

Soulful and Swedish tunes

Swedish pop group Ace of Base showed no signs of stopping with two hits that summer: "The Sign" and "Don't Turn Around."

The police chase seen around the world

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Listeners swore by the soulful harmonies of All-4-One's "I Swear," which dominated the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 11 straight weeks. During the week of August 6, the top spot went to "Stay (I Missed You)" by the bespectacled Lisa Loeb after the song's appearance in the post-grad film "Reality Bites."

Loeb was usurped after three weeks by another all-male vocal group, Boyz II Men, and their single "I'll Make Love to You."

Meanwhile, MTV viewers were going "Crazy" for Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler, who played two schoolgirls cutting class in Aerosmith's music video.

Baseball players cry foul, and World Cup fever

Hockey's New York Rangers ended their 54-year wait for the Stanley Cup with a defeat of the Vancouver Canucks in game seven of the finals on June 14, 1994.

Three days later, on June 17, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer made his final appearance in the U.S. Open.

World Cup fever was at an all-time high in a notoriously soccer-averse nation: Not only did the United States play host nation with a cumulative attendance of 3,587,538, but the home team advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1930 with the help of popular players like Alexi Lalas and Tony Meola.

As soccer fever cooled, Major League Baseball frustrations heated up. Players went on strike August 12 over a proposed salary cap. They would strike for 232 days; it was the first year without a World Series since 1904.

Summer of scandals -- and O.J.

Speaking of the World Cup, Argentine player Diego Maradona was sent home early after he tested positive for the drug ephedrine. This was not the first time Maradona faced drug trouble: The famed soccer player was suspended for 15 months by FIFA in 1991 over alleged cocaine use.

In a more tragic turn of events, Colombian player Andres Escobar was gunned down in the streets on July 2 after accidentally scoring a goal for the United States and ultimately eliminating his nation's team. Cartel bodyguard Humberto Castro Munoz confessed to the murder, but it is widely speculated that he did not act alone and was employed by a cartel that lost significant money betting on Colombia.

In England, the tabloids were aflutter after the Prince of Wales admitted in a televised documentary to committing adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles. The documentary was supposed to paint Charles in a sympathetic light after his very public separation from Princess Diana after 11 years of marriage.

And then, of course, there's O.J. Simpson. On June 17, 1994, the Heisman trophy winner and NFL Hall of Famer led police on a low-speed chase on Los Angeles freeways after the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The now-legendary white Ford Bronco has been burned into the brains of the collective American audience, as the events unfolded on live television before 95 million viewers. Simpson would be charged and found not guilty of murder.

And that's all we have to say about that.

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