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Francesca Biller Headshot

Michael and Farrah's Passing a Death of Our Childhhood

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With the deaths of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and David Carradine, it feels as though a large part of the 1970's has died right along with them, making those of us old enough to remember them feel as though a part of our culture and childhood is gone forever.

Barely old enough to be baby boomer, I can remember the golden girl of the 1970s gracing every boy's room in the form of a poster, dancing to every song Jackson ever sang with indefinable dance moves, and watching Kung Fu each week during dinner as if it were a religious experience.

Are we really so old that it is now time for our own childhood icons to begin passing away, or are these deaths and our shock simply a symbol that it was in the 70's that we began to take entertainers and celebrity-hood too seriously?

Either way, there is no argument that there was no era that has ever been like or will be like the seventies and eighties, as anyone who has lived, celebrated and survived through those years can attest to.

They were magical decades, a time when television characters, music, pop idols and commercialism became almost a part of our own families, and when many of us with dysfunctional, absent families turned to for comfort and identity.

It was a time for kicking back, partying, looking "marvelous" always, and putting on the glitz before "bling" ever became a lame modern term without any true meaning.

It was an era we "seriously" watched shows like Charlie's Angels without laughing and because we thought these new powerful and beautiful women were cool and deserved to be idolized as the sexy, strong, modern woman. And we all either had a favorite angel to wither lust over or try to emulate.

It was a time when disco and rock and roll clashed, when "Disco Sucks" was chanted at Rolling Stone's concerts and yet Jagger used a lot of the rhythms and black sounds in his music.

We can remember too when Farrah Fawcett turned her famous hair in for a mop hairdo and a serious acting role in The Burning Bed and other movies, something no one thought the beautiful blonde sex symbol could do.

We can remember Jackson crossing barriers of race, gender, age, and culture with his astounding talent with songs like "Billie Jean," "We are the World," The Thriller Album, and even "Say Say Say" with Paul McCartney.

When Ed McMahon died this week, I was very sad to hear the news. I can remember watching the Tonight Show with my father as a teenager, one of the happier moments we often shared together. It seemed when Johnny's sidekick died, that a piece of that lighter side of childhood had now simply passed away. But at least with McMahon, he was elderly and it wasn't a shock to my system, or to my father's.

We also knew about Farrah. The seemingly-impossibly healthy, sunny-faced poster girl who defined Hollywood, California beauty -- we tried not to think this iconic angel could be suffering from the dreaded C word, and I am still in shock over her death as well, even though it was expected.

David Carradine was a an iconic symbol of my generation too. Most of my elementary school male classmates had King Fu lunchboxes and thermoses. My brother even began martial arts because of the show and still practices today.

But Michael Jackson was only fifty. 50 year-olds and especially iconic cultural superstars aren't supposed to die. 50 is the age of one of my older siblings, not of my grandfather or great uncle.

We danced to his songs at my prom in Hawaii, watched street performers break dance to his songs with boom boxes New York, and I had a boyfriend who always donned a glove when attending parties.

Jackson looked up to James Brown, and some say his talent was equaled; he had the grace of Fred Astaire who once called to compliment him on his dancing; he made the moon walk the ultimate dance goal for both blacks and whites, and sadly because he was forced to act as an adult in childhood, he became like a frail child in adulthood.

This is truly sad day for all of us who are old enough to remember this special era that Michael, Farrah and David symbolized, and young enough to worry, panic and grieve.

Their deaths mean in part that we must actually be getting older, and forced to face our own mortality. It makes an entire generation mourn that a big part of our own youth, culture and childhood has truly been washed away, never to return.