Example: [Collected via e-mail, July 2009]
Farrah Fawcett died this week after a long career in Hollywood as an actress. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she became an activist for cancer treatment and devoted her last remaining years encouraging people to seek treatment. She documented her plight on film and used it to encourage others to stay positive and upbeat despite their diagnosis and suffering.
Michael Jackson died this week. He was perhaps one of the greatest singers of modern time. He will also be remembered for his eccentric lifestyle that included sleeping with a chimpanzee, living in a carnival-like atmosphere at Neverland, his fascination with Peter Pan, and his numerous masks and costumes. He also admitted to finding pleasure sleeping with young boys and paying out millions of dollars in settlements to the families of these boys despite being acquitted by a court on one allegation of sexual molestation.
QUESTION - Which of the above did the House of Representatives declare a moment of silence for today? (Hint - It wasn't the first two.)
QUESTION - Which of the above's family received a personal note of condolence from President Obama?
(Hint - It wasn't the first two.)
Need we say more?
Variations: A later version of this item included the following bit about actor Karl Malden (who died on
It is true that Ed McMahon was a veteran, a decorated
It is also true that neither of these celebrities was honored in their passing with the observance of a moment of silence in the
However, many would take exception to the implication that Michael Jackson was merely an eccentric entertainer who, unlike Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, did nothing (outside of his art) to benefit society and make him (as) worthy of the honors and recognition he received at his passing. Michael Jackson left behind a substantial philanthropic legacy, having contributed for over twenty-five years to a long, long list of charities through donations of his time, money, and other forms of support. As the
In all the financial and personal turmoil that characterized his latter years, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that he was a pioneer not only in popular music but also in charitable fundraising within the entertainment industry.
Jackson, like his close friend Elizabeth Taylor, was one of the first entertainers to enlist in the fight against AIDS/HIV, and he went on to contribute and raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help sick children, set up scholarship funds, and to find new ways for entertainers to raise money and awareness for causes.
He also helped set the standard of generosity for other entertainers, particularly pop stars. His song "We Are the World," which he
Before the financial woes that haunted him in recent years, Jackson was one of the industry's most formidable philanthropists.
Jackson's estate is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars more over the years to come. If the will currently being treated by the courts as valid is sustained, it appears that at least 20% of the income on the trust that Jackson directed his executors establish will go to charity.
Last updated: 9 July 2009
Daunt, Tina. "Michael Jackson's Generous Legacy." Los Angeles Times. 8 July 2009. Gerstein, Josh. "Obama Sends Condolence Letter to Jackson Family." Politico. 28 June 2009. Koppelman, Alex. "On House Floor, A Moment of Silence for Michael Jackson." Salon. 26 June 2009. O'Neil, Tom. "Farrah Fawcett's TV Cancer Confession May Be Emmy-Worthy." Los Angeles Times. 7 May 2009. Ventre, Michael. "'Farrah's Story' a Tale of Inner Strength." msnbc.com. 22 May 2009.