Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebrity Death

My son showed me a text a couple of days ago which is a bit irreverent, but it is so very fitting.  I’m not sure that this is the exact verbiage, but it was along the lines of;
Celebrity deaths always come in threes, leave it to Billy Mays to throw in a fourth for free.
Of the four public figures we lost this week two were tragic and unexpected, the others were at least anticipated, if not expected.  All will be missed.
Fortunately I was at a horse show last week and managed to avoid most of the hype concerning the death of Michael Jackson.  I know where I was when I heard the news and yes, I was saddened.  Despite his ongoing battle with social awkwardness and general irresponsible and irrational behaviour the man was a musical genius.  I saw the Victory Tour in Jacksonville FL (I’m pretty sure the cheesy “silk” jacket is still around here somewhere…) and the original video tapes of his ill-fated Pepsi commercial are not beyond reach.  There’s even a copy of “Thriller” on a VHS tape stuck in the cabinet.  Michael the musician was a rare talent and will be missed.  Michael the person had some issues that I’ll choose to avoid.
I grew up with Farrah Fawcett; had the poster; saw the movies; “read” the Playboy.  She was one of the beautiful people that managed to maintain a sense of graciousness and humility.  When she was diagnosed with cancer she fought it with determination and documented the struggle on her own terms.  I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of anal cancer before Farrah’s case (colorectal cancer, certainly.)  She took it upon herself to help educate the world while continuing to maintain her beauty and graciousness, even in the face of death.
Ed McMahon; what can I say?  He was a fixture for years and years in late-night and managed to reinvent himself time after time for our entertainment pleasure.  I guess we’ll have to wait to see who Publisher’s Clearing House replaces him with to see how we need to re-write all those “check from Ed McMahon” one-liners.
Then we have Billy Mays.  I must admit I used to find him incredibly annoying.  Then I saw a couple of  episodes of “Pitch Men” last week, which showed the difference between his personna and his personality.  Billy was the consummate salesman; he could sell ice to an eskimo or the proverbial used paint.  But what you didn’t see was the careful consideration he gave to the products he pitched and the strong loyalty and sense of family he had.  One of the episodes was Billy and his son shooting a commercial for his brother-in-law’s restaurant, gratis.  Hopefully his tragic death will bring heightened attention to hypertensive heart disease and save lives in the future.