Within a forty-eight-hour period the world lost three figures in the world of entertainment. Farrah Fawcett, in the days when she had Majors appended to her name, was the nation’s most popular sex symbol a year or so after Richard Nixon left the White House. Ed McMahon’s work with the late Johnny Carson spanned eight presidencies (if one includes their late 1950s game show Who Do You Trust?) but for many viewers their true heyday came in the early 1970s, when no weekday in the Nixon era was complete without at least a few minutes watching Ed holler “Heyyy-yo!” or hearing him intone the magic words, “I hold in my hand the last envelope.”
But both of these deaths were inevitably overshadowed by the unexpected passing of Michael Jackson. It would take thousands of words to come close to describing the triumph, tawdriness, and tragedy of his 40-year career but it is worth mentioning that it all started in the Nixon years, with “I Want You Back” in the fall of 1969. Indeed, his first big solo recordings, like “Ben” (which was nominated for an Oscar), happened during the thirty-seventh President’s first term.
May their families be comforted in their time of sorrow.