And Michael makes three

2009 June 25
by Stace

First, Ed McMahon died on Tuesday. Second, Farrah Fawcett died Thursday morning. Then third, Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon. Three icons of my youth, gone in three days.

My memories of Ed McMahon are sparse since he and Johnny were on the air past my bedtime for most of my young age. When I could stay up later, I rarely watched “The Tonight Show,” but tuned in later on NBC for David Letterman.

Still, you could not be alive in this country and not know who Ed McMahon was. I think I mostly knew him from the Publisher’s Clearing House commercials. Haven’t we all fantasized about Ed showing up at our house with a giant sweepstakes check? Oh well. Maybe that was just me. I even bought a few magazine subscriptions once, thinking that would increase my odds of winning. Ah, youth.

Farrah. Now there was an icon. I never thought she was the most beautiful of Charlie’s Angels; that title went to Jaclyn Smith, in my opinion (Hedon believes the title belongs to Kate Jackson). Farrah had the famous hair and the poster, though, and I hesitate to even imagine how many nights she and her clingy swimming suit appeared in the dampened dreams of teenage boys. Okay, probably there were more than just teenage boys, but I don’t want to go there, either.

I watched “Charlie’s Angels” as a child, and don’t remember much about Farrah’s character. She wasn’t on there very long, was she, before going off on her own? I certainly remember all the brouhaha surrounding her role in the TV movie “The Burning Bed.” I thought it was silly the way people were all agog that Farrah “allowed” them to make her look less than beautiful in her role of an abused wife. It must have been barrier-breaking in some way, I assume, to create such a furor of surprise and admiration. I clearly was too far out of the loop to get it. And too young.

And that brings us to Michael. MTV and music videos were born in my teenage years, and by the time I was in college, Michael Jackson was the emperor of MTV. I remember all of us in the dorm huddling around the television in the lounge, clamoring for the premier airing of the “Thriller” video. It was everything we had hoped it would be, and more.

I had a poster of Michael on the wall of my dorm room, the one from “Off the Wall” where he’s wearing the yellow sweater. I didn’t dream of him, but I did think him beautiful.

We all moonwalked, if we could. We knew every word to every song on the “Thriller” album, except for some of the words to “Billy Jean” since they were deliberately obscured in places, something Michael loved to do. We all debated the ethics of Billy Jean falsely accusing Michael of being the father of her child. We all wanted to wear one glove, but most of us did not succumb to that need (myself included, thankfully). We were all appalled and aghast when Michael was burned during the filming of that Pepsi commercial.

Michael is a huge part of my memories of my freshman year in college. Oh yes, we had Madonna, too. But for the girls in particular, it was all about Michael. We were frustrated by his desire for privacy. Had there been a 24-hour Michael Jackson channel, we probably would have watched it until falling into a coma from lack of sleep.

By the time “Bad” appeared on the scene, I’d moved away from pop music for the most part. I couldn’t get away from news about him, though. Who he dated. Who he married. Where he went. What he bought. What he did. It’s no wonder he fought so long and so hard for a modicum of privacy. I eventually tuned it all out.

Michael returned to my attention in later years because of his repeated visits to the plastic surgery Toronto, and the allegations that he was a child molester. I thought it was sad that he had spoiled his looks, and wondered what madness underlay his need for physical change. And I refused to believe he had been molesting children. It would have to be proven to me.

I thought.

Then, years later, I watched that interview Michael had with that British guy. While it wasn’t proof, Michael admitted to sleeping in the same beds with these children, among other strange things, and I found these disclosures disturbing enough to open considerable doubt. I’m still unsure.

I know that many people in the days to come will want to ignore the allegations of child molestation, and say we should focus instead on the musical artist that was Michael Jackson. They want to keep the musical master separate from the man himself. I’m not sure one can actually do that. Van Gogh was a master of painting, and the fact that he was insane enough to whack off his earlobe as a gift to a prostitute is part of who he was as an artist, not just who he was as a man. The human is his/her art, and vice versa.

I want to just remember the beautiful Michael in that poster which hung on the closet door in my dorm room. But what I want is impossible. Will he forever be an enigma?

Three icons. Gone. Ed, Farrah and Michael. May you all rest in peace.

10 Responses
  1. 2009 June 26

    You said it, sister!

  2. 2009 June 26

    Yeah Stace. Nice post.

    And it was too bad that MJ ruined his looks. But with the freakish childhood, or non-childhood that the guy had I can sort of see how he got that way. I doubt he was a child molester – IMHO they were people after his money and fame.

    I’m too old to have ever thought that MJ was king of anything, but I think he was tormented and at least doesn’t have to deal with that anymore. He never looked like the picture of health either.

    So sad to see Ed die. Two of my ex-husbands watched Johnny and Ed and I liked Ed a lot. And Farrah – yes, the poster that every teenaged boy had in his room.

    Age isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure.

  3. 2009 June 26
    Belledog permalink

    There was always something oddly innocent about Michael Jackson. I suspect there was something to the child molestation charges, but that Michael believed himself to be perpetually a child — and therefore with his peers — despite aging into adulthood. It’s a sad case.

    He had a lot of talent and style. Was looking at some Thriller+ era videos, where he’d embarked on some plastic surgery but had not yet arrived the “expensively reconstructed accident or burn victim” final face.

    Leave Me Alone is poignant — then and now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbH04pY7alA

    This video has Asian language captioning on it, underscoring his appeal globally.

    Abuser or not. Wish I had seen him perform live.

    Was rooting for him to do well in the London concerts. Although the infotainment sphere that now mourns him 24/7 would have concentrated on the parade of weird and what an uphill battle he faced to reclaim his legacy and recover his financial stability.

    RIP.

    Do you think he had lots more music creation in him? Or that phase had passed?

    ====

    Ed McMahon seemed a genuine and nice man who appreciated his good fortune.

    Farrah Fawcett seemed a prisoner of her own beauty and explosive success of the “the poster.” Celebrity fodder before she perfected her craft, and so she never gained acclaim for the fine actress she became. (Allegedly. I never saw her in anything but “Angels” and was surprised to hear she’d only been on one season. She was such a huge “overnight” success.)

    ======

    Mark Sanford (romantic governor of South Carolina) is relieved at being crowded off the stage!

  4. 2009 June 26

    What a great post! I was shocked when I heard about Michael Jackson – Mother told me on the phone last night. I think I’m a little older than you (maybe a lot older at 47,) but you captured my sentiments about all three of these people.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog too. I don’t get too many :-) I think the “creativeness” will be ok; however, they’ve fired a bunch of drivers in the recent past because of it. I just try to do the best I can….

    Again, wonderful writing on your part. Hope I get the time to read more of you.

  5. 2009 June 26

    I remember on the first charges against Michael I absolutely did not believe them because as I recall the family of the boy seemed to meekly settle for a large wad of cash and dropped the charges against him.

    That seemed strange. I remember thinking at the time if someone had molested the YoungOne there was no amount of cash that could shut me up and I would see the molester in hell before I would drop the charges.

    But that could just be me. Mess with my family or friends and I can get just a wee bit vengeful and wrath-of-god-like all over your ass.

  6. 2009 June 26
    Chaos permalink

    I have to say that I haven’t seen very many of Michael Jackson’s videos, but I do love Thriller. (spelling??) Last night when I heard Michael Jackson had died I was really shocked. The weird thing is I just met a lady Monday night who was debating on whether to go backpacking in Europe, or go to one of the last Michael Jackson concerts in Europe (I think that’s where she said they were.) What a weird coincidence.

  7. 2009 June 26
    limericc permalink

    + 1 to Kate Jackson being the “hottest” angel.
    As for Jacko the Wacko… Goodbye, his death probably saved more childrem from being molested.

  8. 2009 June 27

    This has certainly been a tough week for celebrities

  9. 2009 June 28

    Amen to that. You have to imagine Ed McMahan (sp?) dying and getting some could rememberances and footage…then Farrah goes…then everyone is ignored with MJ going. You gotta picture Ed saying…OMG, WTF? lol

  10. 2009 July 1

    And now the Oxi-Clean guy is gone, too! Now who will yell at us about miracle cleaning products at 3 a.m. on cable TV? Oh wait, there’s always the Sham-Wow guy. And the miracle ladder guy. And the super-duper easy chopper guy. And the …

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