Thursday, June 25, 2009


We lost two celebrities this week: Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett. McMahon was 86, Fawcett was 62. (Oddly enough, she's the same age my dad was when he passed away, also from cancer.)

It's enough to make me reflect on their place in my growing-up years.

Sometimes when we traveled for summer vacation from Wisconsin to Mississippi (or back again), we would stay in a motel to get a break from the road. Dad liked to drive until late, so that "break" might not happen until after 10pm Central (which is 11pm Eastern--it sounds early but it was late for us). We'd trudge into the room, worn out and cranky, and turn on the TV to settle down for the night. We'd almost always watch THE TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson. Carson's routine was funny even to us kids (most times), but it was Ed McMahon that told us when things were really funny. His big, booming laugh was a barometer for "okay this is funny" or "it wasn't funny but we're laughing anyway."

It was a nice part of my childhood, those motel room nights with the family, watching a little TV and sharing a laugh together.

As for Farrah, I never owned the infamous red swimsuit poster, but I know guys who did. Heck, there was one hanging in an office in my high school. She embodied the California girl ideal of the mid-70s, fluffy hair and sparkling smile and all. I was disappointed when she quit Charlie's Angels after one season (I thought even then it was a bad career move to trust in one season's work on TV--a lesson David Caruso didn't learn), but times moved on and there were other "It girls." Still, nobody was quite the same as Farrah. She had that kind of charisma that's impossible to define but unmistakable.

In saying farewell to both of these folks, I'm reminded that life moves on for all of us. The people I loved watching as a kid are aging (or, in many cases, gone), while the newest crop of celebrities are people I don't recognize. It's a generation gap thing.

But thanks, Ed and Farrah, and rest in peace.

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