Saturday, July 21, 2018

Michael Jackson Dead At Age 50; Farrah And Ed Who?

by D. E. Carson (writer), , June 25, 2009

Putting celebrity deaths in perspective.


They alway come in threes or so the urban legend goes.  Earlier this week it was announced that former Tonight Show announcer Ed McMahon died.  This morning, we all learned of the passing of Farrah Fawcett and before I could get home from work, it was announced that Michael Jackson died.

The crowds and the traffic snarls around the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center were indicative of who was the most popular among those three, in spite of the fact that McMahon also died at Reagan UCLA.

The real tragedy isn’t that Jackson was the youngest of the three.  The real tragedy is that his death will eclipse that of McMahon and Fawcett in the days to come.  The truth of the matter is all three were culture icons in America – McMahon for his 30-year stint as second banana to the King of Late Night Television Johnny Carson, Fawcett for her clingy red swimsuit poster and flowing blonde hair, and Jackson for his ... for his ... uh, crotch grabbing among other things.

Is it just me or is there an inverse correlation between the level of raunchiness of a person’s public image and the number of people who will publicly mourn that person’s passing?

Ed McMahon’s comedic timing was perfect in the role of straight man.  He had the uncanny ability to set up any joke Johnny Carson needed and make Carson look good.  Never did Carson’s humor cross over into filth, but it certainly peered over that blue line a lot.  And McMahon was there to keep hold of Carson’s belt to prevent that tumble.  Nothing associated with McMahon could be considered scandalous, unless you count the financial problems he encountered in the last several months.  But he never did anything nefarious, illegal or underhanded nor could anyone accuse him of that.

The same could be said for Farrah Fawcett.  The closest thing to scandalous associated with her was the aforementioned red swimsuit poster.  The worst thing she ever did was take on too many roles where her character was a victimized woman.  Had it not been for the movie The Burning Bed she might never have gotten the recognition she deserved.  On a personal note, while I thought she was attractive in some ways, she never “did it” for me.  Not like Cheryl Ladd or Lynda Carter did, but then I guess I was too young to appreciate Fawcett when she was in her heyday.

Then there’s Michael Jackson, former son-in-law to the King of Rock-n-Roll, Elvis Presley.  What can’t one say about Jackson?  His alleged perverted activities with young boys and subsequent legal trouble regarding the same were quite possibly the end of his music career.  While he was never convicted of molesting children, his public, on screen admission of sharing his bed with young boys certainly didn’t help his cause.  Some claim he was a phenomenal singer, songwriter and dancer – I can’t bring myself to agree with that assessment.  He had some good songs in his career and he certainly deserves credit for his Thriller album – the number one selling album of all time – but his genre never fit into my personal liking.  And that was before the allegations.

One thing is for certain, Jackson’s death will certainly take the headlines away from McMahon and Fawcett – especially Fawcett even though she died the same day.  It’s no secret that culture icons have varying levels of popularity depending on the medium in which they work.  In ranking these three, the number three spot would have to belong to Farrah, McMahon would easily handle number two and I will have to concede that Jackson would out rank all of them.

Frankly, Farrah deserved better than to have Jackson “steal” her final moment in the spotlight, but we don’t generally get to pick when we step over that line into the dark abyss.  It’s just more proof how fickle the clamoring hoards can be and reaffirms that popularity is only around until the next big thing comes along.

Rest in Peace Ed and Farrah – not everyone has already forgotten you.

About the Writer

D. E. Carson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Michael Jackson Dead At Age 50; Farrah And Ed Who?

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By Teresa Montez on June 25, 2009 at 09:56 pm

You're certainly entitled not to like someone's music. But for those of us that loved Michael Jackson, he was a once in a lifetime musician and performer. First he was this child with this amazing adult sized voice, later on he was a completely innovative musician, always ahead of his time and an extraordinary dancer. There was nothing raunchy about his persona as far as I can see, holding his crotch was one dance move amongst many, but that's what U.S. puritanical culture latched onto and singled out.  But then it's more than that musically Michael Jackson's extraordinary gifts seem to be sent from the divine spirit world. I don't say that to convince you, but to explain why his death is so tragic for so many. Rest in Peace to all. 

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By aussiekeith on June 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Yep its all sad news and with Michael Jackson.

He cartainly has had an interesting life and was a great musician.

And to think the come back tour was not much more that 1 month away.

Such a real shame and all I can say is, now I really believe that, Michael with have,

his well deserved peace, which is one thing, he never had, while here on earth.

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By Kim on June 26, 2009 at 02:00 pm

Agreed, Michael Jackson had more talent than Tupac or Big E fact there is no way anyone can compare those 2 in terms of talent, innovation, style, etc.

On another note, my heart goes out to the families of all 3 human beings and artists we have just lost.

I was truly hoping that Farrah would somehow beat the odds and make it.

Her death is tragic.

Ed's death is equally sad and prayers and condolences  to his family.

And, to see a 50 year old Michael die is  alarming in that any man succumbing to death at that age is terrible.

One has many more years left to live one's life.

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By cristogianni on June 26, 2009 at 03:28 pm

Some claim he was a phenomenal singer, songwriter and dancer – I can’t bring myself to agree with that assessment...he certainly deserves credit for his Thriller album – the number one selling album of all time – but his genre never fit into my personal liking.

It's not a claim, you just admitted it! Thriller: No. 1 of all time. No need to say more.


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By cristogianni on June 26, 2009 at 03:30 pm

Btw, Rest In Peace Ed, Farah and Michael. You were all legends in your own right.

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By Marga on June 26, 2009 at 04:24 pm

Some claim he was a phenomenal singer, songwriter and dancer -

I believe Michael Jackson was a phenomenal dancer.  Farrah Fawcett was a beautiful role-model for young girls and I'm sure the fantasy of many a young boy.  I don't think Johny Carson would have been anywhere as succesful as he was if it wasn't for Ed McMahon to play off of.

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By D. E. Carson on June 27, 2009 at 01:24 am

"It's not a claim, you just admitted it! Thriller: No. 1 of all time. No need to say more."

I admitted nothing.  I don't have to like him or his music.  No one is holding a gun to my head and telling me that I have to like him.  I can't help that, in my opinion, as an entertainer he was seriously lacking in talent, he was not exactly the role-model many wanted him to be and he made some serious misjudgments in his actions (like the time he suspended his baby over a railing in Germany -- c'mon Teresa Montez, you can't tell me that wasn't just plain wrong and  your allegation of puritanical mindset has nothing to do with it either).  I just happen to think there are better entertainers out there than Michael Jackson and I happen to think there are entertainers out there with more talent and ability than Michael Jackson had.  I also think that he was very much over-hyped, overrated and under delivered.  But again, that's my personal opinion of him.

Marga: Johnny Carson really didn't need Ed McMahon.  By the time Carson was on The Tonight Show he'd already established himself as a major talent.  He'd been many years working solo before hiring Ed to work with him on Who Do You Trust? and people like Jack Benny and Red Skelton recognized Carson's talent long before Ed took that train ride from Philadelphia to New York.

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