Thursday, June 25, 2009

The seventh child of the Jackson family, Michael Jackson debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5, and became their biggest star.

At the age of 50, the King of Pop still cuts a cool figure, seen here during a visit to Tokyo last year.

Michael Jackson performing during the Singapore-stop of his HIStory tour in 1996, complete with his signature crotch-grabbing antics.

Ah today I heard that i lost two idols of mine, one from Anal Cancer and one from a heart attack. Both were big during their heydays. I learn one lesson do not f*** your partner in the arse you will give her not just anal but cancer so beware those victim of Anwar you can get Cancer and also to watch my diet

The sex symbol who wanted to be more

Maybe not how she’d want to be remembered but this is the image many fans will remember – fondly – of Farrah Fawcett.

JUNE 26 – She really tried. And, for a sex symbol, that alone can be like an accomplishment.

A scrim of sadness covers Farrah Fawcett’s career. Her stardom traced that cautionary Hollywood arc: meteoric fame followed by years spent trying first to overcome it, then, too late, seeking to recapture it.

Cancer interrupted Fawcett’s attempted comeback in 2006 and put her on a different, more didactic track – pursued by a careful-what-you-wish-for flurry of publicity.

She put the incessant tabloid intrusion to the service of her illness, making a video diary of her struggle with anal cancer that, among other things, allowed her to feel that she had some control over the coverage.

NBC, never shy about exploiting a celebrity tragedy, overproduced and overpromoted her film in “Farrah’s Story,” but never made the public service point that, besides abstinence, the HPV vaccine is the most promising form of prevention against this type of cancer, which in most cases is sexually acquired.

Fawcett died Thursday at 62. And her last poignant appearances sometimes obscure a smaller, more gratifying story line of a celebrated beauty who worked against type to construct a more dignified second act.

Long before Charlize Theron gained weight to make “Monster” and Nicole Kidman put on a fake nose to play Virginia Woolf, Fawcett scrubbed off her tawny good looks to play battered – and battering – women in “The Burning Bed” and “Extremities.”

There were many less successful performances as well and cameo roles in B movies, but Fawcett kept trying, and that’s more than can be said of many of today’s fading stars who coast on surgically preserved looks, cable reality shows and the culture’s insatiable hunger for celebrity abasement.

Bea Arthur, who died at 86 after a long, varied and joyous career, accomplished many things, perhaps most notably making the case on “Maude” and “The Golden Girls” that an older woman with a large frame, beak nose and stentorian voice could be an object of male desire. Fawcett was not as talented or as versatile. Still, while at the peak of her career she tried to show skeptics that an object of male desire can hold her own in roles usually reserved for less glamorous, better trained actresses.

Though, of course, it was her early work that kept her famous. Nobody in recent memory comes close to the giddy heights Farrah Fawcett reached in the mid-’70s with one season on “Charlie’s Angels” and That Poster.

The pinup of Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit, tanned, head tossed, body lithe yet curvy, was a revelation. She looked delicious but also a little carnivorous, her gleaming white teeth frozen in a friendly but slightly feral smile.

That poster ended up on every teenage boy’s bedroom wall and in the annals of pop culture – Farrah was the face, body and hair of the 1970s

More recently Fawcett became almost as well known as fame’s camp follower after a dizzy, incoherent interview on David Lettermanin 1997..

That bad moment was reinforced by an ill-advised 2005 TV Land reality show, “Chasing Farrah,” the kind of doomed career defibrillator that was parodied so brilliantly by Lisa Kudrow in “The Comeback.” A camera crew followed Fawcett as she giggled and tossed her golden mane at movie openings and on shopping sprees – more Blanche DuBois than “Charlie’s Angels.”

In one scene, as Fawcett strode ahead in a cloud of fans and paparazzi, a stocky, balding man in a T-shirt told the camera with a leer, “I’d do her,” as if that would be doing her a favour.

Fawcett left “Charlie’s Angels” after only one season, the queen of “jiggle TV.” She had a dazzling smile underscored by a whispery baby voice, a sweetness that allowed young male fantasists to believe that she would be a forgiving sex goddess.

Bo Derek and Pamela Anderson, physical prodigies who took her place on dorm-room walls, seemed less approachable – they were positioned more as parodies of sex symbols than the real thing and seemed perfectly content in that niche.

Fawcett was built on a more human scale, a cheerleader from Corpus Christi, Texas, who radiated a healthy athleticism just ahead of the aerobics revolution led by Jane Fonda and Jamie Lee Curtis.

She made movies like “The Cannonball Run” but also set her sights on Broadway long before it became fashionable and profitable for theatres to boost ticket sales by recruiting television and movie stars to perform onstage.

And in 1983 she dared to take over a role originated by Susan Sarandon in “Extremities,” in the grueling role of a rape victim who seeks revenge on her attacker. That performance led to “The Burning Bed,” a 1984 TV movie in which she played a battered wife and which was a television milestone; it helped her secure the lead in the 1985 film version of “Extremities.”

She took on other ambitious roles, not as persuasively perhaps, but they were brave choices nonetheless: the Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld in a 1986 television movie; the heiress Barbara Hutton a year later; and in 1989, the wartime photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White.

Her career took a detour in 1997 – that was the year of a Playboy spread and her infamous David Letterman interview, but it was also the year she played Robert Duvall’s wife in “The Apostle,” an affecting performance that was well received by critics, if not widely seen.

She kept at it, though the offers kept shrinking; her last movie was a small part in “The Cookout,” the 2004 Queen Latifah comedy.

Toward the end, her private life – her son’s drug problems, her on-and-off relationship with the troubled Ryan O’Neal – eclipsed decades of work. Cancer brought it to an end.

Not all of her performances will stand the test of time, but what is worth remembering is how hard Farrah Fawcett tried. – NYT

Michael Jackson tributes streaming in


JUNE 26 – Michael Jackson's sudden death at the age of 50 brought reactions from across the entertainment world and elsewhere.

Music producer Quincy Jones, who collaborated with Jackson on three of his best-selling albums, “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad,” said in a statement: “I am absolutely devastated at this tragic an unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at this young age, I just don't have the words.

He added: “He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today and part of my soul has gone with him.”

Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock great Elvis Presley and who was married to Jackson in the mid-1990s, said in a statement: “I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children who I know were everything to him and for his family. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me.

Actress Brooke Shields, a long-time friend, said in a statement released through her publicist: “My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael. He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing.”

Pop star Madonna told People magazine: “I can’t stop crying over the sad news ... I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats but his music will live on forever. My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless.”

Representatives for actress Elizabeth Taylor, another of the singer’s longtime friends, said she was “too devastated by the passing of her dear friend Michael Jackson to issue a statement at this time” but promised one later.

Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who performed Jackson’s 1991 hit “Black or White,” said: “Really sad news about Michael. He was talent from on high.”

Entertainer Liza Minnelli told Entertainment Tonight: “He was a kind, genuine and wonderful man. He was also one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. I loved him very much and I will miss him every remaining day of my life.”

Rudy Clay, mayor of Jackson’s hometown, Gary, Indiana, told the Chicago Tribune: “Wherever a person from Gary, Indiana, went in the world, people would say, ‘That’s Michael Jackson’s home town.’ So Michael helped Gary just by being from Gary.”

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, the group that organises the Grammy Awards, said in a statement:

“Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of artistry, talent and vision as Michael Jackson. He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility and sheer star power carried him from childhood to world wide acclaim.

“A 13-time Grammy recipient, Michael's career transcends musical and cultural genres and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and memories.”

US civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who knew Jackson for decades, said in a statement:

“A friend of Michael's for the last 35 years, I call on people around the world to pray for him and his family in the hour.

“I have known Michael since we were both teens, worked with him, marched for him, hosted him at our House of Justice headquarters in New York, and we joined together to eulogise our mutual idol, James Brown.

“I have known him at his high moments and his low moments and I know he would want us to pray for his family.”

New Yorkers and tourists in the city’s Times Square were shocked at the news of Jackson’s death.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s sad, it’s really, really sad,” said Nicole Smith, an 18-year-old student from Brooklyn, New York, in Times Square. “My mother was a fan. I listened to his music.”

“I’m shocked. I thought someone was lying to me when I first heard it. I was a fan from when he was a little boy and then he got weird,” said Sue Sheider, 51, a teacher from Long Island. – Reuters

Michael Jackson is dead

Michael Jackson’s grieving fans gather at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles June 25, 2009. – Reuters pic


LOS ANGELES, June 26 – Pop giant Michael Jackson, who took to the stage as a child star and set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday after being taken ill at his home. He was 50.

Jackson was pronounced dead at about 2.26pm PDT (5.26am Malaysian time) after arriving at a Los Angeles hospital in full cardiac arrest, said Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.

The cause of death was not known and an autopsy would likely take place on Friday, he said.

Media set up across the street are seen outside the emergency room dock at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. – Reuters pic

Jackson’s sudden death had been reported earlier by US media, which said he was taken ill at his Holmby Hills home and rushed to the hospital by paramedics who found him not breathing when they arrived.

There was no immediate comment from spokespersons for Jackson, who was known as the “King of Pop,” for hit albums that included “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.”

Outside the hospital in Los Angeles about 200 fans and reporters gathered on Thursday, waiting for confirmation of Jackson’s death or condition.

Some fans were crying and hugging each other, and others were climbing atop fences to get a better look at a microphone stand where a news conference was supposed to take place.

He had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

The entertainment website TMZ said that “We’re told when paramedics arrived, Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back.”

Earlier, the Los Angeles Times said the singer had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by fire department paramedics.

The newspaper said paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the scene before taking him to the UCLA Medical Center hospital.

Known as the “King of Pop,” for hits that included “Thriller” and “Billie Jean,” Jackson’s dramatic, one-gloved stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

He transformed music videos and his lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, made him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

But Jackson’s belief that “I am Peter Pan in my heart”, his preference for the company of children, his friendship with a chimp, his high-pitched voice and numerous plastic surgeries also earned him critics and the nickname “Wacko Jacko.”

Comeback concerts

Jackson, who had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London, starting July 13 and running until March 2010. The singer had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the past two months.

The shows for the 50 London concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale in March.

His lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, makes him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

He lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation.

There were concerns about Jackson’s health in recent years but the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson had passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors.

Michael Jackson gestures during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London March 5, 2009 file photograph. – Reuters pic

Child star to megastar

Jackson was born on Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children. Five Jackson boys – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael – first performed together at a talent show when Michael was 6. They walked off with first prize and went on to become a best-selling band, The Jackson Five, and then The Jackson 5.

Jackson made his first solo album in 1972, and released “Thriller” in 1982, which became a smash hit that yielded seven top-10 singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million worldwide.

The next year, he unveiled his signature “moonwalk” dance move while performing “Billie Jean” during an NBC special.

In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999. The couple never lived together.

Jackson has three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism. – Reuters

‘Angel’ Farrah Fawcett dies

Before: Farrah Fawcett (centre), with co-stars Kate Jackson (right) and Jaclyn Smith in a 'Charlie's Angels' promo shot...and 30 years after, at the 58th Emmy Awards in 2006.

LOS ANGELES, June 26 — Actress Farrah Fawcett, the “Charlie’s Angels” television star whose big smile and feathered blond mane made her one of the reigning sex symbols of the 1970s, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. She was 62.

Fawcett, first vaulted to stardom by an alluring poster of her in a red swimsuit, was diagnosed with anal cancer in late 2006. It spread to her liver in 2007, proving resistant to numerous medical treatments in Germany and California.

“After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away,” Fawcett’s long time companion, actor Ryan O’Neal, said in a statement.

“Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”

Fawcett’s death in a Los Angeles hospital came just six weeks after the TV broadcast in May of a video diary she made chronicling her battle with cancer and her final months.

Called “Farrah’s Story,” the documentary was effectively a self-penned obituary by the actress, who was bedridden and had lost her famous hair by the time it was shown.

O’Neal said she had wanted to tell her story on her own terms.

Fawcett’s close friend Alana Stewart, ex-wife of rocker Rod Stewart, told Entertainment Tonight after leaving the hospital yesterday; “I just lost my best friend. Her death was very peaceful.”

A file photo dated August 27, 2006, showing Farrah Fawcett at a tribute to Aaron Spelling at the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. – Reuters pic

Fawcett, born February 2, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas, was an art student in college before she began modelling, appearing in shampoo ads.

She started guest-starring on TV in the late 1960s and appeared on the television hit “The Six Million Dollar Man” after marrying the show’s star, Lee Majors, in 1974. The couple divorced in the early 1980s.

Angel culture

Fawcett’s career took off thanks to a poster of her posing flirtatiously with a brilliant smile in a red one-piece bathing suit. It sold millions of copies and led to her being cast in 1976 in “Charlie’s Angels,” an action show about three beautiful, strong women private detectives.

As the tanned and glamorous Jill Munroe – part of a trio that included Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson – Fawcett was the hit show’s most talked-about star. She left “Charlie’s Angels” after only one season but lawsuit settlements brought her back to guest-star in subsequent years.

Fawcett’s face appeared on T-shirts, posters and dolls. She came to epitomize the glamorous California lifestyle and inspired a worldwide craze for blown-out, feathered-back hair.

The New York Times once described that hair as “a work of art ... emblematic of women in the first stage of liberation – strong, confident and joyous.”

“Her hair needed its own phone line,” “Charlie’s Angels” co-star Smith recalled later.

In late 2008, Fawcett shaved her own hair when it began falling out because of her cancer treatments.

Ryan O'Neal (right) and Farrah Fawcett pose as they arrive at the premeire of his film,'Malibu's Most Wanted', in Hollywood in this April 10, 2003 file photo. - Reuters pic

Serious roles

While Fawcett’s early career was marked by lightweight roles, the actress sought to play down her sex symbol image in more challenging dramas in the ‘80s.

She earned critical acclaim for her performance as a battered wife in 1984’s “The Burning Bed”, for which she received the first of three Emmy nominations.

The off-Broadway play and subsequent film “Extremities,” in which Fawcett played a woman who takes revenge on a would-be attacker, earned one of her six Golden Globe nominations.

Fawcett posed for Playboy magazine in 1995, the same year she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She had one son, Redmond, with O’Neal. Redmond O’Neal, now 24, was arrested on several occasions in 2008 and 2009 for heroin and methamphetamine offenses leading to time in jail.

In the last few years, Fawcett appeared frequently on entertainment TV, where she shared details of her battle with cancer.

But she was outraged when news of her deteriorating condition was leaked to tabloid newspapers. A Los Angeles hospital employee was charged in 2008 with stealing and selling Fawcett’s medical records, leading to a new California law imposing tighter controls on medical files and stiffer penalties for privacy breaches. – Reuters


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