The Reaper's been a busy som-bitch in the celebrity world this week—especially today. June 25, 2009 will no doubt go down as one of those "Where were you when you heard..." kind of days.
MICHAEL JACKSON, 1958-2009
I just signed on to the computer 15 minutes ago and was dumbstruck by the news of Jacko's passing, even though I've often predicted a premature demise for him, not unlike that of Elvis Presley 32 years ago. They haven't given any details on cause of death, but I have a strong suspicion it was self-inflicted (intentionally or otherwise). Then again, the Michael Jackson I knew and revered has been dead a long time now, ever since the multi-talented good-looking black kid I grew up listening to was replaced by the sissified, crotch-grabbing, zombie-looking white pervert who had a thing for little boys. Anybody remember the animated Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoon show in the early '70s? That's what really got me into the Jacksons, and I prefer to remember Michael the way I first encountered him—as a 12-year-old fronting the group with his brothers, singing classics like "I'll Be There" and "Never Can Say Goodbye" when I fell asleep with the radio tuned to WHB every night when I was six years old. I still need to digest this story more before I can properly comment on it, but for now, I'll just say that I'm in shock, yet I'm not shocked at the same time.
FARRAH FAWCETT, 1947-2009
The inevitable finally happened today. Rather than re-hash what I’ve already written about her, I kindly redirect you to my Farrah commentary from last month. At least the suffering is over for her now...
To lose not one, but two '70s icons on the same day is a bit tough to take.
ED McMAHON, 1923-2009
Since I grew up watching the "Tonight Show" in the '70s, I consider Ed to be one of my '70s icons too, in a way. I think we could see his passing coming for quite a while now, and sadly, Ed’s memory is a bit sullied by his recent financial woes. Still, it’s hard to imagine what late nights back in the day would’ve been like without this man. We all knew his hearty laughter on the "Tonight Show" was often forced, but it was still reassuring to me, for some reason, and he was like a steady anchor every night, especially when Johnny wasn’t on. And whenever I hear the name Alpo, I almost automatically think of McMahon’s frequent live dog food commercials on the show, especially this one where a finicky dog passed on the chow and Carson got on all fours to sub for the pooch. Ed was a good sport whenever JC would razz him about his drinking habits (which I don’t think were quite as prolific as Johnny made them out to be) and even when the late George Carlin said, "Just once, wouldn’t you love to see someone on the Johnny Carson panel go ‘Ooooh, goddamn, Ed—move down, will ya!" I also always loved it when he kept repeating Johnny’s answers during the Carnac The Magnificent bits, culminating with "I now hold in my hand, the LAST envelope…"
Now, I coulda done without the Publishers Clearinghouse TV ads, as well as "Star Search" in the ‘80s, but I actually did enjoy Ed’s work when he co-hosted Jerry Lewis’s telethon all those years. In fact, I think I enjoyed Ed more than Jerry, sometimes. As for the money stuff, Ed should’ve divorced that wife of his a long time ago—from what I hear, she’s the one who frittered away all his dough! A rather ignominious end to a fine career. S’long, Ed...
And from what I hear, the news is not good regarding newscasting legend Walter Cronkite, either...