Granted, these two icon's glory days were pretty much behind them, but still, they both made enough of an impact on America (if not the world) that they were, more or less, ingrained in the the mythos of the late 20th century zeitgeist .
Many of us were saddened, but not shocked to hear of the passing of Farrah Fawcett earlier today; she'd been ill for some time, and her sickness has been filer for the media for the past several months - however, when word arrived that Michael Jackson had also bought the farm, I think most of us felt like we'd been hit over the head with a brick.
If you came up in the 70's like I did, you became aware of Michael Jackson early on when he fronted the singing group, The Jackson Five. Back then, Michael was an angel faced youngster with a terrific voice and some incredible dance moves. His brother's may have all been talented, but the pint sized lead singer of the group was the one we all paid attention to.
It did not take long for Michael to set him self apart from his family. If memory serves, he had his first big singular hit in 1972. A sweet little love song called Ben. No matter that it was about a rat, and served as the theme song to the movie about said rodent, Ben hit big and suddenly, Michael was a force to be reckoned with.
***Several years later, with the advent of a sophomoric television show called, Charlie's Angels, the world was introduced to a blond haired beauty, who, for whatever reasons, really struck a chord with the populace.
Suddenly, everywhere you looked, there was the face of Farrah Fawcett Majors (she was married to TV's Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors at the time). Magazines, fell over themselves to run puff pieces on her, women went gaga over her coif (I am pretty sure that were it not for Farrah, the curling iron would have never happened), and of course, there was the infamous poster of her, the one were she's in the red bathing suit, all smiles, while her perky right nipple is making itself known at the same time.
Interestingly enough, Farrah only did one season of Charlie's Angels, and then she departed to find fame and fortune on the big screen. Sadly, Sunburn, and Somebody Killed her Husband were both duds and eventually, Farah faded from public view ... for awhile at least.
It was in the early 80's when Farrah made a come back in the TV movie, The Burning Bed. Gone was the glam gal, and in her place, a plain looking woman who was suffering from abuse from her louse of a husband. Guess what she does to avenge her self in this movie? After The Burning Bed, came Extremities, another film were Farah goes from Charlie's angel to Avenging angel.
There were some stumbles after this, a rather, seemingly, doped up appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, a Playboy center spread the featured our gal rolling around in paint...but eventually she seemed to find her way and made several other decent movies (my fave being The Apostle with Robert Duvall). She even tried her hand at reality TV with Chasing Farrah, in 2005.
Sadly, Farrah's most recent bit of notoriety came with her public struggle with cancer. A passion play that we all watched until it's cancellation today.
***Meanwhile, in the early 80's, Michael Jackson burst back upon the scene as the ultimate entertainer with his mega-selling album, Thriller. Make no mistake about it, Thriller was probably one of the most ground breaking albums of all time - right up there with The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Everyone owned a copy of this record back in the day, and anyone who claimed that they did not, was probably lying.
Featuring great songs, ingenuous arrangements, and fantastic lyrics, Thriller also spawned several of the greatest rock video's ever made including a mini-horror film inspired by the title song, directed by John Landis.
Michael kept busy during his Thriller years, appearing everywhere, selling out concerts, showing up on talk shows, and he was still seemingly normal, and, dare I say it? Kind of sexy in his tight pants, while doing his moon walk...
After Thriller came more hit albums and more hit singles, as well as Michael co-writing We are the World ...for a time, everywhere you looked, you saw Michael Jackson...
...and then things got weird.
Over time, Michael started to change physically, his skin grew lighter, his face changed, his speaking voice became softer and more child-like ... and then of course, there were the allegations of sexual molestation of young children. Things got ugly fast, and several years after being at the top of his game, Michael was suddenly something of a pariah. If he was not in court, he was dangling one of his children off a hotel balcony, or showing up for yet another court appearance in pajamas ... and then those photos hit that showed his face physically falling apart ... frankly it was all rather disgusting.
In the past few years, Michael became something of a one man freak show, no matter what his past accomplishments might have been, it seemed like he'd never get back to the top or regain that "King of Pop" title he seemed to want to cling to so desperately. In a way, he became Norma Desmond.
And now, today, Thursday, June 25th, Michael Jackson is dead. His final act, and from the look of things, he'll finally get all of that attention he wanted again. Sad, how stuff turns out, don't you think?
***Tonight then, raise a glass to the memory of the beautiful blond who gained some fame, got a bit of notoriety, but ultimately went out with some class. And then, by all means, do the same for the man who gave us hours of musical pleasure - forget the ugliness, the shattered lives, and try and remember the good , don't judge him too harshly, his life was probably not as black and white as you think it may have been.