Thursday, June 25, 2009

One, Two, Three

     There is an old adage that says "bad things come in threes."  So when Ed McMahon pitched over the other day, and Farrah Fawcett passed away this morning, we all knew something was coming.  G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria even said it out loud.  But when I heard on the radio that it was Michael Jackson that made three, I wasn't quite sure what to say.  I actually didn't quite believe the guy.  I had to run (okay, walk casually after I was done making dinner) over to the computer to double check it.  So there they went: one, two, three.  Three people who, like them or not, had a huge effect on the entertainment business.  So let's take a look at them, shall we?
     Let's start with Ed McMahon.  How one sees McMahon and his impact depends a lot on when you grew up.  Young kids probably only know him as someone who they don't know why they should care about who got their mansion repossessed.  People my age know his as the guy who brings around those big Publisher's Clearinghouse checks with the balloons and whatnot, or maybe if you watched a lot of TV back in the day the guy who hosted Bloopers & Practical Jokes with Dick Clark.   If you are a little older, like my parents, then you know that he was the faithful sidekick to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for years.  Years and years.  If you are unsure about his role because you are a little young, he was to Johnny Carson what Andy Richter was to Conan O'Brien.  He didn't revolutionize anything really, but he was certainly a part of a show that was as iconically American as any before or since.  Millions of people tuned in to see Johnny and Ed every weeknight.  And I can't stop say "You are correct, Sir!" like he did to save my life.
     Not like anybody ever had an Ed McMahon poster on their wall.  Well, maybe there was like a strange kid in Cincinnati that did, but you always have to throw out the extremes on either end.  But you know who DID grace about a million billion bedroom and dorm room walls?  Farrah Fawcett.  Possibly the most iconic of American posters, half because of the beautiful blonde with the huge smile that said "I love having fun but am so far out of your league it's not even funny" and partly because it was apparently very cold that day.  She was one of Charlie's Angels, the ones from the 1970s, not the 2000s, and could have made millions at the box office just by herself.  Everyone wanted to be Farrah: red one-pieces and feathered hair because all the rage.  That girl, that poster, set the hairstyle of the decade.  It was the Rachel of her time.  Oh, and she fought an amazingly tough and inspiring battle against breast cancer in her last days, which is colored by her impending marriage, which was not to happen until she kicked the cancer.  No one who followed will forget how bravely she fought the cancer ravaging her body.  And no one will ever forget that poster either, I assure you.
     I assure you that no one will ever forget Michael Jackson, either.  I mean, he put himself in some pretty awful positions and did some pretty strange things, which was able to divide public sentiment regarding him, but you would have to be a fool to not recognize his contributions to the music industry.  I mean, come on, "Thriller?"  Are you serious?  Quite possibly the most influential album of all time.  I defy you to find a wedding that is not in the South at which some sort of Michael Jackson song isn't played.  And I bet the dance floor is full of girls in bridesmaid dressed when it is.  Whether it was with his brothers and sisters in The Jackson Five, or on his own during the 80s and 90s, he was and will always be The King of Pop.  And didn't even like the guy.  And while Bubbles and the Neverland Ranch and the kid from Home Alone (yes, I know his name but I have no reason to try and look up how to spell it because aside from that movie with Mandy Moore he hasn't done anything worth me remembering him as anything other than the kid from Home Alone) or that awful duet he did with his sister, Janet, were not inspired ideas, buying the Beatles catalogue and Billie Jean certainly were, don't you think?  Personal life antics (like holding that baby off the balcony) aside, he was a huge personality and influence in the world of music.  Like Mount Rushmore huge.  Like Officer Butt Hansen huge.  So you've got to give him credit for that.
     So rest in peace you three legends of entertainment.  The world is certainly a more unique and varied and I would say better for having had you in it.  So we will hold your memory high on film and vinyl.  Oh, and for Farrah, on our walls.

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