The saga of then-President Bill Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky grabbed the public's attention in the late '90s, eventually leading to the second impeachment of a US president in American history. CNN explores this fascinating decade in the new TV series "The Nineties" airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT starting July 9. Click through the gallery to explore some of the decade's most iconic moments.
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Manuel Noriega is ousted —
After surrendering to US forces, who famously blared heavy metal music for days outside his Panama City hideout, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was flown to Miami on January 4, 1990, to face federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges. After serving time in US, French and Panamanian prisons, Noriega died in 2017 at age 83 after complications from brain surgery.
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Washington mayor busted —
In this frame from a January 18, 1990, FBI surveillance tape, Washington Mayor Marion Barry is shown allegedly lighting a crack pipe in a hotel room. Barry was convicted of possession and served six months in prison, but revived his political career to reclaim the mayor's office in 1995. He died in 2014 at age 78.
Mafia boss heads to prison —
Dubbed the "Teflon Don" for his ability to evade prosecution, John Gotti led the Gambino crime family for years after ordering the killing of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. The authorities finally caught up to Gotti, shown in 1990. He was later sent to prison for life after being convicted of murder, racketeering and other crimes.
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Free at last —
After spending 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela and his then-wife, Winnie, raise their fists in celebration of Mandela's release from custody on February 11, 1990. Mandela became President of South Africa after his release and played a pivotal role in leading his country out of apartheid's decades of racial segregation. He died at age 95 on December 5, 2013.
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Violence rages in South Africa —
During clashes between rival political parties -- the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party -- a young man clubs the burning body of Lindsaye Tshabalala in Soweto, South Africa, on September 15, 1990. Violence in the early '90s between the two groups left thousands dead.
Kurt Cobain's suicide —
Known for his distinctive growl, the Nirvana front man wrote some of the '90s' most memorable songs and propelled "grunge" to become the dominant musical genre of the decade. But for all his talent, Cobain's personal demons were too much to overcome. The singer battled depression and heroin addiction for years before his suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.
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One Germany —
After decades of division after World War II, a treaty that brought together the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic to form a unified Germany was ratified on October 3, 1990. Here, Germans celebrate the news in front of Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.
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Severing ties with the Soviets —
One by one, Eastern European countries cut their ties with Moscow in the early 1990s, leading to the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In this 1990 photo from Hungary, a dismantled statue of Joseph Stalin is dragged through the streets of Budapest.
Ferdinando Scianna/Magnum Photos
The march toward war —
Saddam Hussein's decision to invade neighboring Kuwait led the United States and its allies to intervene. Here, US troops fan out across the Saudi desert on November 4, 1990. The Gulf War lasted 42 days. Coalition attacks ended on February 28, 1991, after President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire.
Bombs over Baghdad —
Iraqi anti-aircraft fire lights up the sky over Baghdad on January 18, 1991, as US and allied forces launch aerial attacks on the city. The Gulf War was a pivotal event for the Middle East, and also for an upstart news network called CNN, which brought live 24-hour coverage from the front lines of the conflict to American audiences.
'Dr. Death' goes to prison —
Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the assisted suicide advocate who was charged with murder numerous times in the '90s after helping terminally ill patients end their lives, is shown with his suicide machine. In 1999, Kevorkian was convicted of murder for his role in the death of a patient who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian was later paroled and he died in 2011 at age 83.
The beating of Rodney King —
This 1991 image from video showing Los Angeles police beating a black man named Rodney King brought simmering racial tensions in the city to a boil. The footage showed LAPD officers striking King more than 50 times with their batons. Four officers were charged in the beating, and when they were acquitted, the verdict sparked riots throughout Los Angeles.
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Thousands stand up to the Communists —
An estimated 500,000 protesters descended on Moscow's Manezh Square on March 19, 1991, to demand that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his Communist government relinquish power. By the end of the year, their demonstrations succeeded: The Soviet Union officially dissolved in December 1991.
'Seinfeld' signs off —
The legendary sitcom that brought us the "Soup Nazi," "Hello ... Newman" and other unforgettable characters and catchphrases got off to a humble start in 1989. But "Seinfeld" went on to become the undisputed king of '90s television. An estimated 76 million US viewers tuned in to watch Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer one last time in the show's finale on May 14, 1998.
'Thelma & Louise' —
Starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, Ridley Scott's 1991 film about two friends' road trip gone terribly awry is considered a classic for its groundbreaking depiction of feminist themes. The movie was also adored by audiences and critics, raking in over $45 million at the box office, six Academy Award nominations and winning an Oscar for best original screenplay.
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Pinatubo awakens —
After sitting dormant for over six centuries, the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo rumbled back to life with devastating consequences on June 15, 1991. The eruption blasted hot ash 28 miles into the air and led to the deaths of 847 people, making it the most destructive eruption in the last 100 years, according to the US Geological Survey.
Dahmer's house of horrors discovered —
After one of his would-be victims escaped from his home, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in July 1991 and later confessed to killing 17 men and boys. Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences, but died in 1994 after a fellow prisoner beat him.
Alan Y. Scott/Milwaukee Journal/Pool/AP
Meeting of the high-tech minds —
During a 1991 portrait session, a barefoot Steve Jobs sits opposite his more businesslike Microsoft counterpart, Bill Gates. The '90s were a pivotal time for Jobs, in particular. After leaving the company he founded in the mid-'80s, he returned to his post as Apple CEO in 1997 and reinvigorated the company with the release of innovative new products.
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The KGB falls —
Once the world's largest police and spy agency, the KGB met its end in 1991 after an unsuccessful coup attempt by its chief officer, Vladimir Kryuchkov. Taken days after the failed coup, this August 23, 1991, photo shows Muscovites stepping on the head of a toppled statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Mob killing —
For his refusal to pay protection money demanded by the Mafia, Italian businessman Libero Grassi was gunned down near his home on August 29, 1991.
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No more 'Magic' —
Still in the prime of his playing career, three-time NBA MVP Earvin "Magic" Johnson stunned the sports world on November 7, 1991, when he announced his retirement from basketball after testing positive for HIV. After his diagnosis, Johnson played in the 1992 Olympic Games and made a brief NBA comeback in 1995.
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Clarence Thomas' confirmation battle —
On October 12, 1991, law professor Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for Thomas at two federal agencies. Millions of Americans tuned in to watch the hearings, which saw Thomas confirmed by a 52-48 vote.
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Terry Anderson is freed —
After spending nearly seven years held by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, journalist Terry Anderson was released on December 4, 1991. Anderson, shown leaving the US ambassador's residence in Damascus, has written books, taught journalism and started charities and businesses in the years since.
Struggle to survive —
Though the Gulf War came to an end in 1991, internal conflict continued to roil Iraq in the years after and for much of the 25-plus years since. In this April 5, 1992 photo, frantic Kurdish refugees, forced to flee Saddam Hussein's regime, jostle for a loaf of bread during an aid distribution near the Iraqi-Turkish border.