First, Farrah Fawcett:
She was enough of a star that she didn’t need to make The Burning Bed, and the kind of star (all-American sex symbol) who might justifiably have wondered what effect it might have on her career. But she made it anyways, and it had an enormous effect of bringing the discussion of domestic violence into the mainstream. A lot of people owe her thanks for that, and other things.
Michael Jackson was about my age, which means that I remember when he first came to national attention. If you know him more from Thriller, let alone from his later life, it might be hard to imagine just how talented he was; and how beautiful his face was before he started trying to improve on it. This is from when he was around eleven (if you want to skip the dumb intro, start at around 40 seconds):
“From a young age Jackson was physically and mentally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling. Jackson’s abuse as a child affected him throughout his grown life. In one altercation — later recalled by Marlon Jackson — Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and “pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks”. Joseph would often trip up, or push the male children into walls. One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Jackson suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.
Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes get sick or start to regurgitate upon seeing his father. In Jackson’s other high profile interview, Living with Michael Jackson (2003), the singer covered his face with his hand and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. Jackson recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that “if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you.””
For me, the song that encapsulates Michael Jackson’s stranger side is Ben. If you don’t know it, give it a listen, bearing in mind that the Ben in question is a homicidal rat.
May they rest in peace.