Category Archives: famous

Michael Jackson Turns 50

I remember in the mid-1970s, Andy Rooney, the guy on 60 Minutes, used to do these occasional pieces, these “humorous” mini-documentaries about restaurants, or different ways people sing the song “Misty”.

One piece was about who is famous. I recall that while Paul McCartney was famous, Michael Jackson, then with the Jackson Five, was not, at least in his mind, Famous meant generally recognized, regardless of generation.

Well, if asked now, I’m sure Andy would consider him famous, or perhaps a bit infamous.

I like quite a bit of Michael’s music, particularly the early J5 and the early parts of his solo career. Last year at this time, I noted that I thought his 1979 album, Off the Wall, was better than his massive 1982 album, Thriller. The first cut from the earlier album can be found here. His electrifying performance at Motown 25, which I haven’t seen since the mid-1980s, still brings a smile to my face.

And I noted that since I share his disease, I viscerally understood some of his craziness (the surgeries, the mask, not the hanging a baby over a balcony.)

So, on his half century mark, I’m disinclined to go beat up Michael. I’ll leave that for others. I’ll just wish him well.


FAME Question

Since David Bowie’s birthday is coming up Tuesday, I had fame or Fame on my mind.

Someone’s Twitter page recently read that he could not believe that someone didn’t know Vincent Price. I do. There’s a real generational chasm about fame.

A recent cover of Us Weekly indicated that Heidi Montag called off her wedding to Spencer because of behavior MTV failed to show. Trouble is, I had no idea who Heidi Montag was, or whether she looks better after undergoing “a lip enhancement procedure.” Or who Spencer was.

I understand that Fergie, who was/is in the group Black Eyed Peas 1) is engaged to some hunky TV star and 2) peed in her pants this year, but I don’t know the details of either.

When I heard that Britney Spears’ sister got pregnant, I didn’t appreciate why a big deal was being made until I discovered that Jamie Lynn Spears is the star of a Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 where she plays a role model for young girls.

And who the heck is Tila Tequila that Tom the Dog hates so much?

Conversely, people who used to be generally famous aren’t anymore. The average 13-year-old doesn’t know who Walter Cronkite, once “the most trusted man on television” is.

I remember that about 30 years ago, Andy Rooney had a series of specials. On one of them, or maybe on his regular 60 Minutes gig, he posited who he thought was famous, his definition being that people in a wide range of ages would know. Paul McCartney, yes. Michael Jackson, pre-Thriller, pre-nose job, pre-sex trials, was not. So, Johnny Knoxville of Jackass doesn’t quite make it now.

1) Who used to be famous but isn’t anymore because a new generation has come up that doesn’t remember him/her?

2) What are the criteria for what makes someone famous? I think it’s a long career that transcends their initial niche: Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods in sports, e.g. or Oprah Winfrey in talk. Showing up in a lot of popular TV shows and/or blockbuster movies: Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Will Smith.

3) Who might become famous? One can never tell, of course, but Miley Cyrus a/k/a Hannah Montana, seems to have the possibility. Heck, even I know her.