While Long Island had a strong pop culture presence in the ‘80s with Joan Jett (“I Love Rock-n-Roll” — 1982), Ralph Macchio (“The Karate Kid” — 1984), Debbie Gibson (“Out of the Blue” — 1987) and Billy Crystal (“When Harry Met Sally …” — 1989), the ‘90s continued the streak putting Nassau and Suffolk on the map.
Here are LI’s spotlight moments in ‘90s entertainment:
MARIAH CAREY’S DEBUT SONG GOES NO. 1
This vocal powerhouse princess from Greenlawn hit a bull’s-eye right out of the gate. Mariah Carey’s first single, “Vision of Love,” from her self-titled 1990 debut album rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts and set a new standard for pop music. Carey wasn’t just a one-hit-wonder, it was clear she had arrived and literally took command of the charts for the entire decade. In fact, “Vision of Love” was the first of 19 No. 1 singles causing her to become the solo artist with the most No. 1 songs in history.
ALEC BALDWIN FIRST HOSTS “SNL”
By the 1990s, the world had seen this Massapequa native rise to movie stardom as a leading man in films like “The Hunt for Red October,” but could he do sketch comedy? Baldwin proved to be a maverick as he hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time on April 21, 1990 and went on to host the show 17 times over the course of the next 30 years — an “SNL” milestone. Additionally, he became a pseudo-cast member when he regularly portrayed President Donald Trump from 2016-2020. Bonus LI fact: The musical guest on Baldwin’s first show was the B-52’s featuring lead singer Fred Schneider, who has lived on the East End since 1992.
THREE AMY FISHER TV-MOVIES AIR IN THE SAME WEEK
Merrick teenager Amy Fisher’s shooting of Mary Jo Buttafuoco, the wife of Fisher’s lover Joey Buttafuoco, at the married couple’s Massapequa home became a tabloid sensation in 1992 that spawned three TV movies. In NBC’s “Amy Fisher: My Story” (Dec. 28, 1992), Noelle Parker played Fisher, with Ed Marinaro as Buttafuoco and Kathleen Laskey as Mary Jo. ABC’s “The Amy Fisher Story” and CBS’ “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” both aired on Jan. 3, 1993. The former starred Drew Barrymore, Anthony John Denison and Laurie Paton as the ill-fated trio, while the latter featured Alyssa Milano, Jack Scalia and Phyllis Lyons.
“THE BROTHERS McMULLEN” WINS SUNDANCE
Writer/director/star Edward Burns, who grew up in Valley Stream, shot this dramedy about a trio of Irish Catholic brothers going through growing pains in their 20s at his actual parents’ home. The film’s blend of sarcastic humor and heartfelt slice-of-life tone caused Burns to win the Grand Jury Prize Best Picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995.
The film launched Burns’ acting and directing career. It also won Best First Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards and Burns took home the Jury Special Prize at the 1995 Deauville Film Festival in France.
LI COMEDIANS TAKE OVER TV
The ‘90s could be dubbed “Must See LI TV” as Long Island comedians were all over the small screen.
On NBC, Jerry Seinfeld of Massapequa dominated the decade with his top rated sitcom, “Seinfeld” while Commack’s Rosie O’Donnell became known as the “Queen of Nice” on her afternoon talk show, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” At CBS, Kevin James of Stony Brook was anointed “The King of Queens” and Ray Romano played a Newsday sports writer who lives with his family in Lynbrook on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
HOWARD STERN BECOMES “THE KING OF ALL MEDIA”
During the ‘90s, radio shock jock Howard Stern, who grew up in Roosevelt and Rockville Centre, became the number one DJ in the country syndicating his self-titled morning show across the nation in 60 markets. His autobiography, “Private Parts” topped The New York Times bestseller list in 1993 and was turned into a feature film by Paramount Pictures in 1997. Stern scored another No.. 1 bestseller with “Miss America” in 1995 and even got his own TV show in 1990 on WWOR-TV (Ch. 9) causing him to take on his self-created title, “The King of All Media.”
BILLY JOEL MAKES HISTORY
During the late ‘90s, the Piano Man became a respected elder statesman in music. After his 12th and final album, “River of Dreams” topped the Billboard charts in 1993, Joel, who grew up in Hicksville and currently lives on Centre Island, started celebrating his catalog by doing countless arena dates and releasing a third greatest hits collection.
In 1998, Joel set a record at Nassau Coliseum for the most sellouts in one year (9 shows). The achievement was marked with a banner that still hangs in the rafters in his honor.
The next year Joel was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside fellow music legends like Paul McCartney, Curtis Mayfield and Bruce Springsteen. The same year he also got inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.