Celebrity dying spree hopefully over

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We all know that bad things happen in threes.

Whenever things start to go wrong in your life, just remember that only three bad things will happen until things start to look up. When someone (whether a celebrity or someone we actually know) dies, everybody knows that two more will follow in short order.

In the past week, TV personality Ed McMahon, actress Farrah Fawcett and entertainer Michael Jackson all contributed to what may go down in history as the most notable “death-by-threes” incident in history.

That is, until television pitchman Billy Mays died unexpectedly on Sunday (coincidentally, at the same age as Jackson), shaking up the natural order of things and becoming the fourth well-known and much-loved person to die in a week.

As the joke goes, “They say celebrity deaths come in threes. Leave it up to Billy Mays to throw in an extra one COMPLETELY FREE!”

With apologies to McMahon, Fawcett and Jackson, I was more upset about Mays’ death, to be honest.

McMahon and Fawcett — though certainly good at what they did and inspirations to thousands — both were simply before my time.

As for Jackson, though I’m always sad for a person’s family when they die, I’ve suffered a lot of indecision regarding how I feel about him. During my lifetime, Jackson has been the freak-of-the-week who made news for nothing but child sexual abuse trials, numerous plastic surgeries and hanging his newborn baby over a balcony. Sorry, but nothing to admire him for.

However, after work on Friday, page designer Troy Cooper gave me a CD of Michael Jackson’s No. 1 hits, and I popped it into the player on my way home. After listening to the entire CD a few times over the weekend, and watching several of his videos on VH1, I now understand why so many people enjoyed his music.

After listening to his CD, I felt a sense of deflation upon switching back to my regular top 40 station and finding the same old crap there. So, for the whole weekend, everywhere I drove, I didn’t switch back. I listened to “Man in the Mirror,” “Thriller,” “Dirty Diana” and “Smooth Criminal” so many times that they’re still stuck in my head in a weird conglomeration of songs melded together. His artistic videos — particularly “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal” — are head and shoulders above today’s videos and provide inspiration for anyone from dancers to graphic artists.

My conclusion on Jackson is that his musicianship and philanthropy are to be admired — most of the rest of his life is not.

“BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!”

As for Billy Mays, I certainly hope they don’t take his commercials off the air. What would the world do without Mays screaming at us to purchase OxiClean, Mighty Mendit and the Awesome Auger? TV will never be the same again.