Saturday, June 27, 2009

Death Takes No Holiday Last Week

It would seem that the whole world is now in mourning for "The Gloved One", despite the fact that Michael Jackson had been largely forsaken by the public in his latter years, reduced to a sad joke, most tragically of his own making. To give him his due, Jackson certainly was a phenomenal solo talent back in his prime years of the 1980s, but he just couldn't seem to sustain it for more than a dozen years or so. While I could admire his technical skills as a dancer, that kind of high energy pop/rock performer so typical of "The MTV Generation" never appealed to me. Remember, I'm a Sinatra guy myself, so Michael Jackson just didn't measure up. For the record, I deplore all contemporary pop music, as I've never liked the rock influence. Sorry...

So instead, here in The Cartoon Cave we're going to celebrate the other two big names of the entertainment world who left us this past week:

Farrah Fawcett is certainly the more tragic loss of the the two, by virtue of her being only 62 and having been in so much physical agony from the cancer that had wracked her body for so long. When I was a teen in the 1970s, this beauty with the big blonde mane of hair was the reigning sex symbol of the day, with her blue eyes and that million dollar smile blazing forth from the ubiquitous poster that became an iconic image of that era. As Marilyn Monroe was to the 50s and Raquel Welch was to the 60s, so Farrah Fawcett became the feminine ideal of the 70s, inspiring many a teenage girl's hairstyle while inspiring something else in we guys! It's ironic really that she made as big a splash as she did, as her greatest claim to fame as the breakout star on Charlie's Angels only lasted the first season, before Farrah decided to leave the show to try her luck in movies. It's a shame that she never did achieve the fame in film that she had strived for.

Admittedly, I was not a huge fan of Farrah, being only a casual viewer of Charlie's Angels back in its day. I found the show entertaining, but a bit too fluffy and silly for my tastes. I preferred my crime shows to be more plausible, favouring Columbo and The Rockford Files at the time. Still, the three gals were very cute and appealing, although truth be told, Jaclyn Smith was my favourite Angel, with her soft dark eyes and warm honey voice. But I certainly admired Farrah and Kate Jackson as well. Having recently revisited the show on DVD, I find their portrayals rather refreshing in retrospect, in that they're not the badass, butt kicking action girls so prevalent in movies and shows today, but are instead still allowed to be very sweet and feminine while solving the dastardly crimes. The 1970s was still a more innocent time on TV!

And not to be forgotten, we also lost Ed McMahon this past week, who was in fact a big favourite of mine. In the 70s and 80s I was an avid viewer of The Tonight Show, back when Johnny Carson was the king of television and the show itself had so much more class than in its later incarnation with Jay Leno. Big Ed was more than just a sidekick to Johnny, in my opinion. His hearty laugh and always affable manner was a very comfortable presence to be around, and I felt that he and Johnny operated more as a team than we see with any of the second bananas working on TV today.

I remember back in 1982, I was in New York City freelancing for the Disney office there. While I was in town, a friend and I got tickets to see the then very late night version of Late Night With David Letterman, which ran on NBC following The Tonight Show. I recall the audience being herded like cattle into the theatre, then having some very crass fellows come out to instruct and nearly threaten us into obeying the applause sign. Overall, I found the experience of that TV show taping rather demeaning and wasn't too impressed at all. About a year or so later, I was out visiting my friend Bryan Stoller in LA and Bryan knew somebody at NBC who was able to secure us very good seats near the front of the theatre to see The Tonight Show. In contrast to the experience at the Letterman taping, I found the taping of The Tonight Show to be very warm and friendly. I recall that Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen came out before the show to warm up the audience before the taping was to start. They had a very inviting manner about them, putting the audience at ease with their good humour and taking a few questions from the people in the stands. When the show started up, it was just magical to hear Ed's familiar intro of "Heeeeere's Johnny!", bringing forth the king himself. I remember being so impressed with the consummate professionalism of Johnny, Ed and Doc, and their obvious respect for their live audience.

In recent years, Ed McMahon had shown unfailing loyalty and respect for his former boss, even after Johnny Carson had passed away, speaking with great affection of their years working together. At some point I'm planning to do a fuller post on the subject of Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show, but in the meantime I'd just like to pay my respects to that gentle giant, Ed McMahon.


Bãpp said...

like always great work Pete,and with a very interesting story !!!!

Brett W. McCoy said...

Phew, I am glad I am not the only one who is not going into mourning overdrive over MJ. I respect his impact on pop culture, but I was not at all a fan of his music.

I was terribly sad over the loss of Farrah Fawcett, as I grew up with her in the 70s also and enjoyed some of the post-Charlie's Angels work she did ('Burning Bed', especially). She was also Steve Austin's girlfriend in several episodes of '6 Million Dollar Man' and had some brief parts in "Logan's Run" and a copuple other SF films.

Thanks for posting her pic! I was hoping you would!

Kelly Light said...

you-me- same wavelength. I'm glad you shined the spotlight elsewhere! Awesome drawings as always!

Thad said...

So much bitterness. >:-(

Joshin'. At least Jacko's kids will be able to finally live normal lives and get out from under the sideshow tent.


Brian Sibley said...

More brilliant caricatures! I never tire of your work.