Steve Phillips blog: Reflections on another trio of celebrity deaths

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) - Those of us in the news business have known a little secret for years: Celebrity deaths usually come in threes.

This past week, that old axiom proved true once again.

Allow me to share a few thoughts about the passing of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

For this baby boomer, each of these celebrities left some impact on my life, or at least created some sentimental memories.

I love Jay Leno and David Letterman, but I grew up on Carson.

And that means I will forever remember Ed McMahon as the indefatigable second banana to Johnny.

I'll always recall his booming voice, his often humorous Alpo commercials (sometimes the dogs would misbehave), and his easy manner of settling into the seat next to Johnny Carson, but making certain Carson was always the one in the spotlight.

He was the butt of Johnny's jokes, his biggest defender, and arguably, one of the finest announcers on television.

Ed was the kind of guy you would love to invite to a party. Because you were just certain he'd be even more fun in person, unplugged.

There was a certain sadness for Ed after The Tonight Show years. He was left with Budweiser commercials, the Jerrry Lewis telethon and the Publisher's Clearinghouse.

Still, I will always smile and remember Ed McMahon for making me laugh even harder at Johnny Carson's jokes and antics.

Then there was Farah Fawcett.

Okay, so I had a crush on her like all other male teenagers during her hey day.

Yes, I did go out and purchase the Farah swimsuit poster (me and 12 million others by the way)  I still have that old poster rolled up in my shed somewhere. I doubt it would ever be worth anything, given the vast number of Farah posters that are out there.

I wasn't a huge Charlie's Angels fan, but I did watch the show.  Farah somehow shined brighter than the other Angels.

I did admire her when she left the show when it was still a hit in the ratings. She wanted to expand her acting abilities, and do something more. It was nearly the kiss of death for her career, but not entirely.

I do recall seeing her acclaimed performance in "The Burning Bed" movie which she starred in after the angels.

That beautiful blonde with the big hair, bright smile and knockout figure will always be remembered fondly.

Finally, the King of Pop met his demise. That was the biggest shocker of the three, since Ed McMahon was in poor health recently and Farrah had been battling cancer.

Michael Jackson. Which of the many faces of this genius entertainer do I recall?

Of course, I prefer the younger Michael, that precocious child star who shined brightest in the "Jackson Five".

Songs like "Rockin' Robin" and "I'll Be There" are the ones I remember most.

Still, who can forget "Thriller" and its remarkable endurance and record album sales. I think that record spawned 7 number one hits. Quite the legacy.

Unfortunately, Michael's image is tarnished by the antics and bizarre drama of his later years.

Skin disease, plastic surgery woes, pedophilia tendencies and charges, weird behavior, and strange drama.

All of those things threaten to overshadow the sheer entertainment creativity, talent and genius of this man.

I hope Michael Jackson finds the peace in death that seemed to elude him throughout so much of his life.

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson; a trio of celebrities who leave enduring memories and legacies

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