Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrities die, too.

What a week it's been for Hollywood: First, Ed McMahon dies. Then, in the same day, both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson bid the world farewell.

It's craziness, I tell you. What is happening to the world when three beloved members of the Hollywood elite pass in the same week?

Where Ed McMahon was concerned, I will admit that he was most famous to me for the Publisher's Clearinghouse commercials. See, I wasn't a big watcher of "The Tonight Show" when Carson was the frontman and McMahon was the sidekick, so I sort of missed his glory days. But I know how famous and popular that dynamic duo once was, and after years of watching Ed McMahon make people's dreams come true through the PC, he was like a long-lost member of the family. Of course, I'd have been willing to call him Grampa if he'd ever delivered a million dollar prize to OUR door, but I digress. The loss of that man was a great blow to "old Hollywood."

Then there was Farrah. The beautiful, ethereal, feathery-voiced and, yes, slightly ditzy Ms. Farrah. I think every one of my boyfriends from junior and senior high had at least one of her posters up on his wall, and she was one of those women who girls like me could simply NEVER live up to. No matter what. No amount of eye make-up or hair feathering was going to make ME look like HER - no way, no how. Still, I was in total agreement that she was gorgeous.

I loved her in "The Burning Bed," and I thought she did a fantastic job in some cheesy TV movie called "The Substitute Wife" in which she played a prostitute in the Old West who a dying farm wife (played by Lea Thompson) chose to be her replacement with her husband and children. Despite her somewhat ditzy personality in live interviews, the woman could act - there's no denying that.

As Farrah's battle with anal cancer became public and her health slowly declined, I found myself inexplicably drawn to her story, fascinated by her strength and courage. I know some people criticized her for being so public with her battle, claiming she was seeking attention, but I admired her for choosing to take her fight against cancer public. There's no denying that when celebrities take their health struggles public, it makes some of us little people sit up and take notice and pay a little more attention to what's happening in our own bodies, and it's no doubt saved a few lives. Given her generous, loving spirit, I'm sure it was a great consolation to her in the end to know that her choice to battle cancer publicly may have saved a few lives, even if not her own. I hope that her passing was peaceful, and that her loved ones can find their peace in this loss, as well. Especially her son, Redmond. That boy has some serious issues to work through. I only hope that he truly seeks to resolve them rather than bury himself further in his drug addictions to seek solace.

And, last but certainly not least, MJ. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Oh, Michael... Such a tortured soul of a man, and yet one with immeasurable God-given talent. I remember "discovering" Michael Jackson when I was in probably third or fourth grade, when "Thriller" came out. In fact, "Thriller" was either my first or second album purchase ever (the other was Crystal Gayle!), and I LOVED that album. I played it over and over again, even when the song "Thriller" came on and scared the bejeezus out of me time and time again. And the video... don't even get me started. I loved it in the movie "13 Going On 30" when Jennifer Garner's character does the Thriller dance at the company party. That was simply awesome.

Watching MJ self-destruct over the last two decades was painful to watch as he went from being an enormously talented young man with the world at his feet and the respect and adoration of millions upon millions to a strange, physically self-mutilated recluse and late-night joke, who may or may not have been a child molester and seemed to have some serious psychological issues. It seemed as though his social oddities and early affinity for plastic surgery at first just made people confused and uncomfortable, but they were willing to overlook that - for awhile. When the accusations of child sexual abuse entered the picture and his surgical adventures left him look less-than-human, I think it all added up to have a tremendously negative impact on his career, which seemed to in turn send him on an even deeper downward spiral.

After the announcement of his unexpected death yesterday, I know I spent time reflecting upon how I came to know - and love - MJ, and how far I'd drifted away from being a fan over the years. Hearing the radio stations today playing old Jackson 5/Jacksons and MJ songs in honor of his life really reminded me of what an amazing talent he possessed, and what a fundamentally pure-souled person he was. The world definitely lost one of music's most talented people ever yesterday.

I hope this is the end of the Hollywood celeb death cycle for awhile. They say these things happen in threes, and that was certainly the case this week. Very, very sad.

RIP Ed, Farrah and Michael. Rest in peace.

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