Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael and Farrah- THE DAY THE ICONS DIED



We Americans casually toss the term "icon" around rather loosely. Here today, gone tomorrow pop princesses and so called "reality TV" stars are sometimes referred to as "iconic". The truth is, there are relatively few icons; Sinatra, Presley, the Beatles; Dempsey, Louis, Ali; Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle; Swanson, Harlow, and Monroe. Those are some of the figures that defined a genre and an era.

Today we lost two true icons.

Earlier today the valiant Farrah Fawcett lost her battle to cancer at the age of 62. We had expected Farrah's death, she had been battling the disease for years. Once upon a time, Ms. Fawcett was the most famous female star in the world. The year 1976 was not just the America's Bicentennial; it was The Year of Farrah. She became a star on the TV series CHARLIE'S ANGELS, along with Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson. But it was Farrah, with her luxurious blond hair, luminous smile, and sky blue eyes, who became the symbol of an era. She was part of the Seventies lexicon as much as disco, Peter Frampton, Springsteen, and Pet Rocks....and you could debate that her poster, pictured above, was THE iconic vision of the 1970's. That image was inescapable; teenage boys, Army barracks, college dorms, locker rooms across America and the world all were home to Farrah's image. Women worldwide copied her hairstyle, and there wasn't a week that passed without a story about her in the tabloids. Possibly the modern era of celebrity journalism began with the Farrah phenomenon of 1976. In my opinion, she was the first TRUE television created sex symbol. There were others before, like Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery, who found a level of stardom (and sex symbol status) on TV. But no one, before or since, hit it out of the ballpark the way Farrah Fawcett did. If you're of a certain age, you'll know what I mean. If you're very young, or past retirement age, I hope I can give you some sense of what this beautiful soul was all about.

More on the life of Farrah Fawcett.

And very shockingly, as I type this, more details are emerging about the death of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, just a short time ago in Los Angeles at the age of 50. We do know that he was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center at about 3;30 PM EDT, not breathing, in what has been called in media reports as cardiac arrest. Initially the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported that Jackson was in a coma, and then about an hour ago The Times reported Jackson's death.

As I type this, there has been no press conference called by the Medical Center, the Jackson family, or by a designated spokesperson. At 4:46PM PDT the LA coroner announced the death of Michael Jackson.

This was a sad and unexpected end to a life that stellar but bizarre, with unmatched highs and controversial detours, many of which were fueled by his personal life. Jackson was so many things to his fans, who spanned several generations. Little Michael, the lead singer of the Jackson Five, with hits like I Want You Back, ABC, and I'll Be There. He ventured into movies (THE WIZ). And then came is association with Quincy Jones and his landmark albums Off The Wall and the greatest selling record of all time, Thriller. The album, the videos, the MOON WALK, the THRILLER video, the VICTORY tour with the reunited Jacksons, the one glove, WE ARE THE WORLD; he was the biggest star in the world, and possibly the most talented man alive.

I remember flippantly saying back in the 1970's that his career would be over once his voice changed. By 1984 I changed my tune- all my life I was of the belief that Sammy Davis, Jr. was the greatest entertainer in the world. Sometime while watching the video for BEAT IT, with its guitar intro by Eddie Van Halen, I came to the conclusion that the title belt was passed on and claimed by Michael.

He was special.

He was the greatest of his time.

I won't dwell on the negatives of his later life. As Shakespeare said, the good is oft interred with their bones.

Lets just take a few minutes, or hours, to dwell and celebrate his legend.

Click here for a Michael Jackson slideshow.

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