As a child of the 1970’s and an adolescent of the 1980’s, tonight has been a somber one in my world and the world of many friends. We all grew up with a Farrah Fawcett poster and a Michael Jackson album in our collections. To think that they both died on the same day — literally bookending my show today, Farrah died at 2 p.m. and Michael died at 6 p.m. — it’s just a tad bit surreal.
Farrah was the lead story on every major website in America for four hours and the news cycle and immensity of Jackson’s bizarre death flushed her out pretty quickly. Jackson was the Elvis of my lifetime. Farrah Fawcett was the Marilyn Monroe of my childhood.
Sure, they were just superstar entertainers who were rich, beautiful, talented and famous — but they were pure icons of our generation. I did a three-hour “tribute” to Farrah today on AM 1570 and got lots of interesting phone calls.
Surely, if you’ve put on a television since 6 p.m., you know that Jackson’s death will be mourned worldwide. He might truly be in the Top 5 of the most famous people in the world and his almost 100% public life was dissected every day he breathed on the planet. Beloved in Asia and adored in Europe and a guy who did massive humanitarian work in Africa — it’s only here in America that he was considered this weird, cartoon-looking “joke”. And on the eve of a 50-night stint in London it’s very, very sad. He lived to perform and always seemed to love his fans even throughout all of his weird battles with lawsuits, allegations of child molestation and “Jacko Wacko” stories.
He lived a very, very sad life when it’s all added up. All that money. All that fame. And he couldn’t make it work because it was so much different than virtually anyone’s life in the history of the planet. He was a transcendent figure and was famous literally from birth. He was a real-life Truman Show. Even Sinatra and Kennedy and Elvis and Marilyn had childhoods. Fame is a bitch. It’s the strangest human condition I can imagine and there’s no “handbook” on how to cope with living in that kind of fishbowl.
His death will be a much bigger deal outside of America than it is here and it’s absolutely going to dominate the U.S. news over the next three days. Especially once we figure out what happened and how he died. The rumors are already running rampant and I’m sure, like Elvis, it’ll always be questioned in one way or another because that’s just the way it rolls when you’re that famous.
Between custody battles, his legal issues and the rumors and whispers and his weirdness with sleeping chambers and kids in his bed and his famous family and his two kids and Elvis’ daughter and his obsession with plastic surgery — his life was the most vivid three-decade public trainwreck in the history of the planet.
I’ve always seen him in some sympathetic light as a victim.
I saw Michael Jackson live at the Capital Centre on his solo tour after “Bad.” His show was spectacular. I reviewed it for The Evening Sun. Watching how many people he affected on TV this evening has been extraordinary. Celebrities, friends, admirers are all calling out, tweeting and mentioning his impact on the world of music and entertainment. (For the record, I had no idea Sheryl Crow was on the stage that night 20 years ago doing all of the duets with him. She just called into Anderson Cooper and they showed old videos of the pair singing. Her hair was truly an 80s extravanganza, impacted directly by Farrah Fawcett. Who says we don’t watch too much TV?)
It’s sad. Just thinking about his life and his lack of normalcy. And Farrah Fawcett’s long and public demise was captured as devastatingly honest and painful reality TV last month.
In the end, their celebrity in life made them both die yesterday as massive voyeuristic curiosities, which in itself is about as sad of a fate as I can imagine. Hopefully the good and happiness they brought to us will be mentioned along with the “drama” and “Hollywood” gossip.
They lived as larger than life figures via their fame. And they both had many, many weird public performances no doubt aided by various drugs and the neurosis that fame seems to bring in many cases.
But today they’re gone and it forces us all to think back to our childhoods and remember their charm, beauty and talent. Today, we all feel our mortality when the rich and famous and beautiful die amidst tragedy on the same beautiful, early summer afternoon.
Imagine a life without Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
Hard to do…