I couldn’t believe it when I saw that Michael Jackson had died, at the age of fifty, only one year older than me. And then I found out Farrah Fawcett had died also. Both of these celebrities were icons of my youth.
I grew up in the 1970s and Michael Jackson was releasing his first solo album. I remember buying it and playing it. Yes, the Carpenters and John Denver were okay. In fact, my first official concert was a John Denver concert that I went with my—gasp!—dad with. I didn’t care. I just wanted to go. My first unofficial concert was to see Bruce Springsteen at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia when I was fourteen, but my parents never knew about that one. I got to meet John Denver when I was a Flight RN and we were based at Morristown Airport in northern NJ. He flew his jet in, for a charity function. He was polite and gentle, just as I thought he’d be. What impressed me most was that he got his own luggage off the plane. The limo driver kept trying to help him, but he said, “No, no, I’ve got it.”
I never did see Michael Jackson in concert. His wacky schedule didn’t fit into my wacky schedule so I missed his shows. By the time I was in my early twenties, he was beginning to get a bit strange. I saw him on an airplane once. We were in Pittsburgh, on a connection to Philadelphia. The first indication that something big was happening was when I went to the check-in desk and was muscled away by two rather large men, who didn’t take any obscenities well. We finally got on the plane and there he was, Michael Jackson, in first class, coloring with a young boy. I don’t know who the kid was, but Jackson looked pasty, like he had really bad stage makeup on. For the duration of the flight, the forward bathrooms were off limits to us coach people. I guess US Air didn’t want to bother Mr. Jackson. So all 200 or so of us coach passengers had to share the same two bathrooms. I always wondered why he didn’t just charter a private plane. Maybe they were all out, ferrying other stars to their locations. Jackson was opening his U.S. tour in Philadelphia and of course, when it came to de-planing, we had to wait even longer than usual, presumably to get Jackson and his entourage off the plane.
As for Farrah Fawcett, I have to admit I watched Charlie’s Angels and wished my hair would go the way Farrah’s did. But it never got long enough, or thick enough. Plus, I love being a blonde. I now admit my hair is light brown, but I get highlights like Jennifer Aniston, and my hair looks somewhat like hers. I was a fan of Princess Diana’s hairstyles for years and had it cut and highlighted like hers. It seems we had the same kind of hair- wavy and thick, and able to be styled in just about any style. But back when Fawcett was queen, my parents couldn’t afford the $100 plus it costs every six to eight weeks to keep it colored. Add the $35 each for shampoo and I have to admit I’m a high-maintenance hair girl.
Farrah invoked in me the California lifestyle, something better than growing up in southern NJ. I wanted to live on the beach and have a dog who would run with me every day. I have to admit that I liked Kate Jackson’s character better, because she came across as the smart one, and she also played a nurse in Adam-12, which made me want to be a nurse.
There will be a lot of sad hearts and sad tales told around the country for the next few days. I’m sure Michael Jackson’s death will be publicized much more; after all, he died under mysterious circumstances. But all those seventies boys will remember Farrah by the poster they hung over their beds, wishing she could be theirs. Now, she is everybody’s.