Friday, June 26, 2009

Falling Stars

Friday, June 26, 2009
I had an entirely different post written for today. I’ve decided to save it for next week.

As someone who’s worked in the entertainment business, one way or another, for more than 30-some years, and who’s loved all things show biz for even longer, I can’t skip over the passing of three performers who made their mark on my younger days.

Ed McMahon
Maybe it's wrong, but I will always think of Mr. McMahon as Johnny Carson’s sidekick. When I was growing up, Johnny Carson was King of the late night talk shows. What a treat when I got to stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show.

Then later, I was old enough to watch it whenever I felt like it . . . which was whenever I could. I vividly remember thinking very early on that I would someday perform on The Tonight Show—meaning I’d made the big time. That didn’t happen, but that’s another story. I never met Johnny or Ed, but I did meet Doc Severinsen . . . but that’s another story. Mr. McMahon was the ultimate second banana, a good sport, and a kind soul. For years he worked tirelessly alongside Jerry Lewis on the MDA telethons.


Farrah Fawcett
I loved Charlie’s Angels. The original TV show, that is. I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angel’s. My personality and looks were more suited to Kate Jackson’s ‘Sabrina’. But I wanted to be Farrah’s ‘Jill’. I wanted her smile. I wanted that hair! I went so far as to wash my hair with Farrah Fawcett’s shampoo—a Wella Balsam product. (Remember that anyone?) Later, she went on to prove she was more than a sexy pin-up (Remember her swimsuit poster?) with great hair. Her heartbreaking performance in “The Burning Bed” remains etched in my mind. Younger folk may only remember her ditzy appearances on David Letterman. Sad, because, okay, maybe she was a strange, but the woman was a cultural icon.



Michael Jackson
I hate saying I saved the best for last. So I’ll settle for, I saved the most influential for last.

Michael Jackson was a troubled soul. A seriously troubled soul. But he was also a musical genius. My admiration is solely aimed at his professional career.

To this day, anytime I hear a song by the Jackson 5, any song—ABC, I’ll Be There, I Want You Back, Never Can Say Goodbye, Shake Your Body Down to the Ground—I get a giddy thrill.

In kind, I adore every MJ hit all the way up to his 1987 album--Bad. Of course, nothing compares (J5 songs not included) to his mega hit--the 1982 album Thriller. I could be wrong, but I think it’s still the best-selling album of all time. The Girl is Mine, Billie Jean, Beat It, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, PYT, Human Nature, and Thriller… all mega hits and all from that one album. That’s damned impressive.

Then there was the groundbreaking musical video for Thriller. Please don’t tell me you’ve never seen it. If not, click here.

Like I said, the man was a troubled soul, but he was also a consummate singer and dancer. He set the musical world on fire.

What about you? Any memories or comments on the show biz celebs we’ve lost this week?

18 comments:

B.J. said...

Hi Beth. It is sad that these three stars have left this world. Farrah gave a good fight. She is a hero to many people.

Beth Ciotta said...

Hi, BJ! Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. :) Yes, indeed, Farrah did put up a good fight. She never gave up. Very inspiring!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi BJ! I completely agree. I was more of a Jaclyn Smith fan, but loved the Charlie's Angels.

Re: Thriller, Man, I had those dance moves down. Watched the video over and over and over again. Okay, I didn't quite look like Michael Jackson but I had fun!

SIS Barb

Mary Stella said...

I can't really access my own feelings about any of these celebrities right now because I'm already annoyed by some of the media coverage. I usually have complete respect for Barbara Walters, but I found her special last night on Farrah to go over the line into intrusive voyeurism, delving into the most minute, personal details of the woman's last days.

Some things should be kept private, held close to the heart. It's one thing for a loved one to talk about what the deceased meant to them or what made Farrah special. It's another to hear a reporter ask questions like, "Did she know you? Did you think she'd rally? What did you say to her when she lay there dying?" I felt ill and sad for the people who loved her.

For some reason, Michael Jackson's death hasn't affected me as much. I think, on some level, I wasn't surprised. For all of his life, which means pretty much for all of mine since I'm only a few months older, he's been so big a star that I lost all sense of his human-ness. It's like he occupied a completely different realm of existence. Weird reaction, I know.

Beth Ciotta said...

Hi, Mary,

I didn't see the Barbara Walters special. After reading your account, I'm very glad. I agree, some things should remain private.

Personally I haven't seen any of the media coverage on Farrah or Michael, although I'm sure, esp on Michael, it's intense. I appreciated reading your perspective on him. Interesting. And I can see how you'd feel that way.

Hope you're having a sunshiny day!

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Barb... I want to see you dance those THRIILER moves. :)

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Mary,

I couldn't agree with you more. I didn't watch for that reason. People are so strange with their morbid curiosity.

In regards to M.J. I was trying to explain to my seven year old daughter how "big" he was. I told her...more popular that Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears put together. Her reaction..."No Way"

Oh yes, I told her and he was so popular people fainted at his concerts because they were so overcome with excitement. She informed me that I was lying and walked away. Oh well. What can I say?

SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Beth,

Next time I see you, I'm gonna bust out a couple of those "Thriller" moves. You just wait and see.

SIS Barb

Tori Lennox said...

It's so weird how these things ALWAYS happen in threes.

MJ's death was the big shocker. Loved his music back in the day, but, Lord have mercy, his life sure turned into a freak show in later years. Sad.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

HI Tori! By the way, you have a great last name!

You are right, it does always happen in threes. Why is that?

SIS Barb

Olga said...

I've seen media coverage on Michael Jackson, and it was pretty overwhelming. So sad and tragic that these people are gone...

Beth Ciotta said...

Tori, no argument there. MJ's life did turn into a freak show. His personal life... well, that's why I only focused on his professional acomplishments, because as a person, the man was severely troubled.

Beth Ciotta said...

Olga, I haven't watched the coverage yet. Head down on revisions... well, except when I'm hear chatting with you lovely people... But I'm sure I'll catch some snippets.

As to celebrity deaths in threes, apparently back in 2006, Dennis Weaver (McCloud), Don Knotts (Barney Fife) and Darin McGavin (the Night Stalker), all went within 24 hours. Weird. And there are many more examples... (cue for the Twilight Zone theme)

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Beth,

AH Ed McMahon... I used to watch the Tonight Show when I didn't even understand why everyone was laughing. Then, as I grew older, I finally "got" the jokes. My favorite skit between Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson was Carnac the Magnificent. Still cracks me up!

I, too, was a Charlie's Angels fan and my favorite was Jaclyn Smith, but oh how I envied Farrah and that smile! She did put up a very brave fight and it saddens me to read about her death and see that reporters still have to bring up the not so great moments of her life. Have some respect people!

Which brings me to Michael Jackson. I used to sit in front of the t.v. anxiously awaiting the Thriller video. MTV would play it every hour on the hour. I, too, had that Thriller dance down. Or so I thought. He was an incredible performer and a musical genius and although his life was a freakshow, we all know that and don't need to be reminded of it at this time. It would be nice to hear the positive things about his life.

Great to see you all here!
SIS Bren

Olga said...

Beth, indeed, it's interesing it happens in threes...

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Carnac the Magnificent! What a brilliant skit that was, Bren. Thanks for the reminder. The best was Ed delivering his lines, totally straight-faced, and Johnny trying so hard not to crack up as he 'predicted' what was in the sealed envelope. Sort of like Harvey Korman trying not to crack up at Tim Conway on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. But, I digress.

And show my age. :)

SIS Beth

flchen1 said...

Three different celebrities who've each had their impacts indeed! I do remember Ed and Johnny, and then of course associated Ed with the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes :) And as someone quite familiar with the 80s, Michael Jackson's music and dancing were huge! Not much of a dancer myself but can still admire it done so well!

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Fedora,

I had a friend that used to get dressed up to the nines on the nights of the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes giveaways. She was positive she would be the winner and she wanted to be prepared to be on camera when Ed rang her doorbell. And no, she never won but I really enjoyed watching her get all glammed up!

SIS Barb

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