Friday, June 26, 2009

The King of Pop and an Angel – Two Cultural Icons With Checkered Pasts – But We’ll Never Forget

Days after actor Ryan O’Neal finally got a “yes” to a question he had been popping for over 20-years, his long-term love interest, Farrah Fawcett closed her eyes for the last time.

O’Neal had originally proposed to his girlfriend many times, but always managed to elude marriage. Maybe it was because she was once bitten, and now twice shy – she was married once previously, to Six Million Dollar Man star Lee Majors in 1973. She even appeared in four of Major’s movies about the bionic man. She had finally agreed to marrying O’Neal, from her hospital bed if need be.

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 10:  (FILE PHOTO) Actors R...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Known for her penetratingly deep blue eyes, and her trademark golden blonde hair, Farrah Fawcett became an icon at a time when pretty blue-eyed blondes where not normally taken at anything but face value. Legendary television producer Aaron Spelling changed all that, and created a star, when he cast Fawcett as one of a trio of breath-taking beautiful women crime fighters in Charlies Angels.

Fawcett was only on the television show for one year, but had already made her mark as a cultural icon. Women everywhere wanted to be as empowered as she was, and men just wanted to be with her. Teen girls would role-pl

Michael Jackson, cropped from :Image:Michael J...Image via Wikipedia

ay Charlies Angels, and teen boys would salivate over her now famous poster, of a twenty-something Fawcett in a tight red bathing suit.

Meanwhile, years after the Jackson Five singing group had a hit, one of its kin jumped out of nowhere, and suddenly was very much here. Michael Jackson’s first successful solo album Off the Wall in 1979, created four chart-topping hits, and it won Jackson his first American Music Award. Even more importantly, it caught the ear of music legend Quincy Jones, so much so that Jones produced Jackson’s next album, Thriller.

Thriller came out in 1982, and enjoyed what is still the record for the most successful album of all time – staying in the top pop charts for 37 straight weeks.

Thriller’s mini-movie-like video, won two Grammy Awards, and MTV declared it the best video ever. Directed by renowned filmmaker John Landis, the video had Michael Jackson, and veteran horror film actor Vincent Price in the lead roles.

Michael Jackson ruled the music scene in the 1980’s, inventing a dance

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 27:  (FILE PHOTO) (L-...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

move called “the moonwalk,” and taking home 13 Grammy Awards, while selling over 750 million albums worldwide.

Both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died yesterday, from two separate unrelated causes. Fawcett had been battling anal cancer since being diagnosed with the disease in 2006. Michael Jackson died of an apparent heart attack, possibly brought on by a growing dependence on pain killers.

Growing up in the 1980’s, with Charlies Angels on the tube, and Michael Jackson on the radio was a very special time, far different from today’s technologically-driven global village.

Back then, big hair, boom boxes, and bright pastel neon colors were all the rage. Television and radio set the trends – there was no Internet, no YouTube, no Facebook, no Myspace, and the only thing that “twittered” were the birds.

So it was only natural, that a bright, blue-eyed blonde with a killer body, and a hand gun drove the world wild. Farrah Fawcett’s likeness appeared on lunchboxes and even for a short time as an action figure. She, and the other “Angels” making up the cast of the hit show Charlies Angels moved women’s liberation to new heights. Although the critics claimed it was pure sexual fl

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson via

uff, depicting hot women, in skimpy outfits, many women wanted to have the knowledge and power that those sex symbols had.

This was the 1980’s, and crime fighting shows were hot and setting the trends. Men stopped wearing socks, after the stars of 1980’s Miami Vice revealed they had no use for ‘em. Other crime shows appeared on the dial, Hunter, Magnum PI, even Star Trek celebrity William Shatner got in on the action, with a short-lived cop drama called Tj Hooker.

But by far, the most successful mystery-crime fighting show of the 1980’s – one which spawned a recent movie franchise – was Charlies Angels.

What Farrah Fawcett did for television, Michael Jackson did for radio.
He inspired a whole generation to moonwalk their way to school, wearing one studded white glove. Michael Jackson was a musical genius, bridging the gap between black soul and white pop music. His concerts were legendary, as his musical rhythms bled into each other, like the perfect disc jockey mix.

Almost every song Michael Jackson penned in the 1980’s became an instant hit. We’ll never forget catchy tracks like Beat It, Billie Jean, and the duet with ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney The Girl Is Mine.

As iconic as both artists were, they both had their less than stellar moments. Perhaps it’s true that those with a special gift are eccentric.

Farrah Fawcett struggled immediately after leaving her hit show Charlies Angels, black listed as being difficult. She managed bit parts in television and film, and eventually won critical acclaim for her portrayal of an abused woman in the play The Burning Bed, which she also starred in the made-for-television version. These roles got her taken seriously again as an actress.

Until one faithful night, when she appeared on David Letterman’s late night talk show. She appeared to be stoned as she mumbled and stumbled her way through the interview. Letterman ended the interview early out of fear that she would completely crack and go nuts on his show.

Michael Jackson went through marriages and divorces – one of which was to Elvis’ daughter to Lisa Marie Presley. He had three kids, though there still are doubts whether they are biologically his, and underwent numerous plastic surgeries, supposedly to make him look more like his idol – Dianna Ross. He become a secluded mystery man, never venturing outdoors without a customized surgical mask, which always matched his outfit.

Rumours circulated, and even a few arrests and court cases, into allegations of Jackson’s sexual interest in young boys. He invited young boys to his home, the Neverland Ranch, and even paid out $20,000US to one family, so that they would drop the molestation charges. He alienated some of his closest celebrity friends, including spats with Brooke Shields. He bought the rights to all the Beatles music pissing off friend and co-song writer Sir Paul McCartney. He even creeped out Cher, who simply adored him for his magical dance moves.

In the end, despite their weirdness, they both left the world a better place – which is something we all should aspire too.

Farrah Fawcett proved that not all hot blonde bombshells are dumb, and Michael Jackson left us with beats which will forever and ever get stuck in our heads.

We lost two icons from the 1980’s, but we will always benefit from the way they helped shape the world we live in today.
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