“It was late August in Los Angeles and hotter than the price of gold. For two long weeks a super-heated Santa Ana wind had been blowing in from the desert, and the city of Angels was beginning to curl up and shrivel. Like cheap bacon on a hot grill.”
That’s a quote from the popular TV series, The Incredible Hulk (1978-82), starring Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, and Cameron Mitchell. The quote is indicative of a warm day with a certain seamy quality in a seedy part of Southern California. It also underscores just how hot the price of gold was in 1981 when this particular episode was produced.
Gold was a novelty item for investors in those days. The year-to-year numbers were astoundingly interesting. It began 1978 (when the series started its run), at about $170 per ounce, dipped and soared to close the year just above $225. In 1979, after opening around $230, the price more than doubled to the $500 mark. In 1980, it started above $500 and ended (after a huge up-down cycle in January) at around $600. 1981 saw the price open at $600 and fall to $400 per ounce. And in 1982, the price shifted downward from $400 for most of the year, then gained to around $460 by year’s end.
Yes, The Incredible Hulk was right, the price was “hot” and it has, over time, continued to get hotter. For more information about the history of the price of gold, check out our Historical Gold charts.