Memories From a 70s Child and an 80s Teen

This week has seen three amazing icons of the 70s and 80s leave this world – Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and shockingly, Michael Jackson. Last night I was too stunned to even begin a tribute post, one that I was going to write on behalf of Ed and Farrah, knowing that I had to include Michael in it as well. Oh but the memories of the icons of my childhood and adolescent years came flooding back so I thought it was only fitting to pay tribute to them today.

My most vivid memory of Ed McMahon was catching Star Search each week with my grandparents deciding which contestants should receive the most stars. Did you know that Sharon Stone, Britney Spears, and American Idol Runner Ups Diana DiGarmo and David Archuletta all competed on Star Search?

Another poignant memory – Ed with Johnny Carson hosting the Tonight Show for the very last time. When I was young, I couldn’t stay awake for Johnny every night but I definitely made sure not to miss his last shot at hosting one of THE most watched late night talk shows in history. I remember thinking Ed looked like he was just about ready to retire then too but I wasn’t ready to see him fade from the spotlight just yet.

And he didn’t either. Who can forget all those Publisher’s Clearing House commercials? Who did not hope beyond all hope that Ed and crew would show up at your door at the most unexpected time with that big ole check for one million dollars? Ed McMahon was the quintessential host, co-host, and spokesperson of my generation. We will all remember him fondly.

Here’s what I think of when I think about FarrahCharlie’s Angels, her marriage to Lee Majors (and her subsequent divorce), her long-time commitment to Ryan O’Neal, The Burning Bed. That’s it. BUT, for me, it was her first and only full year as one of Charlie’s Angels that I will forever remember.

Charlie’s Angels was the BOMB back in the day! I was a Charlie’s Angel (and Wonder Woman and Heather Locklear in TJ Hooker). I wanted to be a strong woman that could defend myself with the coolest gadgets and the hot body. What girl didn’t? When Farrah left it was a surprise. Everyone thought she was making a mistake. And for the most part, Hollywood producers wouldn’t have anything much to do with her for the longest time until The Burning Bed. WOW -what a performance there! She proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could really act. Her professional and personal life took some twists and turns after that but as the 70s icon, the Angel that she was, she will be forever remembered.

Me with two of my former students doing the Charlie’s Angels Pose (San Antonio 2003)

Now, Michael.

I wanna rock with you (all night) Dance you into day (sunlight) I wanna rock with you (all night) We’re gonna rock the night away

Most people remember his most famous album, Thriller, and that’s pretty much what we’ve all been hearing excerpts of since last night. Don’t get me wrong. Oh, do I have memories of Thriller! But, when I first fell in love with his music, his talent, it was when Off The Wall came out. Yes… with songs like “Rock With You”, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, and one of my all-time favorite MJ songs, “She’s Out Of My Life” and the videos that came with most of them when MTV launched in 1980…memories just keep coming back.

If we’re going to talk videos though, without question, Thriller with the voice and appearance of the late great Vincent Price, there wasn’t a day that went by waiting for Thriller to make it’s way onto our TV screens so we could learn the dance right along with the video. About a couple of year’s later Lip-syncing began to take over talent shows and I remember when a group of classmates from the year ahead of me in 1985 (the Class of 1986) performed the Thriller dance to the “T” (no pun intended). Complete with makeup, costumes, a backdrop, and even fog (created from dry ice) that group rocked out Thriller and won the competition. I wonder if any of them have traded their videotape in for an MPEG and will post it on You Tube?

Of course, MJ didn’t come without controversy and personal baggage either. Truth be told, will we ever really know the truth behind the man? Most likely not and despite his legal issues, his personal isssues, he was also a man that truly cared about the world’s children. “We Are the World” an anthem for the generation and an anthem for the ages. He gave tirelessly and generously to causes everywhere because he could. You can’t deny that and you can’t deny the talent that he was. He was an amazing entertainer and an amazing musician. For many of us who grew up in the era that was the King of Pop, our prayers go out to him and his family today as they seek comfort in this time of great sorrow for each of them.

A question was asked on Twitter last night about what other celebrity deaths we remember. For me, it was Elvis, Princess Diana, and JFK Jr, who’s deaths I will forever remember that have caused the most emotion for the world as a whole. Now Michael Jackson’s own death will join each of them in history.

WOW what a sad end to the last week in June 2009.

Not smiling but rather, frowning,

Lisa 😦


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