This has been a sad week in the world of entertainment. The loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson is tremendous-as is the loss of any one soul. These three people, especially Jackson, were a part of my life as well. Each of them played a different role in my more youthful days.
Ed McMahon, being the sidekick of Johnny Carson, had such a powerful and booming voice. I can remember staying awake long enough to hear ‘Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!’ and then listening to Johnny’s monologue and opening banter with Ed. I’d usually turn it off and go to sleep. Often times, my Mom had no idea, or, at least, she never let on, that I did this. His Publisher’s House contest was always unforgettable and his guest appearances on other programs I always managed to catch. I tuned in the Tonight Show for Ed just as much as Johnny.
Like most teen age boys from 1976 to around 1980 or so, I had one of the iconic posters that Farrah made famous. Other than being the wife of the Bionic Man, I had no clue who this beautiful woman was. Of course, after Charlie’s Angels got popular, I knew. But, the problem was, I never watched that show until its later run with Tanya Roberts (another very pretty lady.) I only caught Farrah in repeats of the show and, I think, an occasional guest appearance on that show and others. But it was that poster that that I will always remember. It was everywhere. For a time, it was just as popular as Pac Man. Imagine that.
Michael Jackson. That is all you really need to say. I don’t care to relive the ‘wacko jacko’ days, you can read about that pretty much everywhere else. No, I want to remember the better times from the mid 1970’s to the late 1980’s. The Jackson Five was a favorite of my family, especially my Mother. Mind you, she was country music fanatic. To her, Marty Robins was a god. Conway Twitty was THE man. Loretta Lynn? Why she was the Queen. The Jackson Five? Well, they were just a great group. I remember we had to watch every television appearance they had. I can remember, very vividly, staying up really late (well, for me, at the time, anyway) to watch ‘Soul Train’ on our local station. I think it came on Sundays at 12:30 AM. The Jacksons were coming on. It was an event. And when Michael went solo, oh man. That Motown 25th Anniversary Special, on NBC, was HUGE. We watched it, specifically, for Michael. That his brothers would also be there was just icing on the cake. When he did Billie Jean and the moonwalk, it was gold. My sister went bananas. It was truly spectacular. For then, anyway. I find it amazing how one man and a dance could stir such emotion. But, he did. I suppose that was akin to Elvis or the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan’s show, which the Jackson’s also made an appearance in 1969.
These three people were all a part of my youth and their loss, coupled with the recent passing of my Mother, make me feel like a part of me is gone as well. Maybe it is a reminder that I am getting older. Maybe it reminds me that our time on the planet is relatively short. I am not sure what it is. I will remember them all with fond memories: the joy of a booming laugh, the beautiful woman in the poster and trying to dance to a best selling record. Good times indeed.