MICHAEL JACKSON

This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging for some time. But sometimes you just have to let life play itself out without comment. Like so many people, I have been in a wash of images and feelings about Michael Jackson. I knew him as well as one could know him during the time before he did “The Wiz” and up through “Thriller.” I couldn’t pretend to understand him. There were so many complicated signals. Did he want me to be his ‘older women’ friend. He gravitated to older women. For solace? Succor? A beard? Did he want me to teach him the ropes? I never could quite figure it out. But I remember one day he was visiting me at my ranch north of Santa Barbara. It was the first time he had been in that region but he must have liked it because later he bought his ranch in that same area. Anyway, as we walked around the ranch which was perched right at the edge of the mountain overlooking Goleta, I pointed to a spot where I told him I wanted to be buried. Michael had a melt down right then and there when he heard this. He shrieked and bent over and said “no, no, no!” “ What’s the matter,” I asked. “Don’t ever talk about your dying,” he answered. “Don’t ever think about it.”

I think about death all the time. I rehearse my death. I think that’s a healthy thing to do. Death, after all, is what gives life meaning the way noise gives meaning to silence. Ooooh, I thought to myself, Michael will have a hard time of it as he ages. He will spend all his energy trying to flee what is inevitable. And now it’s happened. I like the fact that it was quick. Massive heart attacks that you don’t recover from are quick. You don’t know what hit you. That’s probably the kindest death for Michael. It’s hard to imagine him being happy as he aged. One more demon to try and evade. I like to think he’s happy now, free of his demons. Free and floating and knowing how his art continues to be revered and celebrated by all of us all over the world. It will continue.

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181 Comments
  1. well said.

  2. Wow. It’s sad to know that he held such a fear inside. However, it’s nice to know that you had the pleasure of knowing him and spending time with him. He’ll be forever missed.

  3. Very nicely stated.

  4. “A beard?” LMAO. Lovely post. Thanks.

  5. Never growing old, that’s how I thought of Elvis, Marilyn and Michael.

  6. Jane, he wanted you just for a friend, I’m sure.
    Michael, Rest in peace.
    You don’t need any father – that slaves you – anymore
    MARLONSKi

  7. I like to think the same of him. Who says death is a bad thing? I think he’s somewhere happy in who he is and knowing that his music will live on past the controversies and the pain of the last years of his life.

    James.

  8. the best comment on michael’s death I’ve read so far.
    all the best
    martin

  9. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Made me cry, and I’m a man!

  10. Thank you so much, Jane Fonda, for sharing this with all of us. It is beautifully written and makes sense. Thank you again.

  11. I was so sad to hear of Michael’s death, I remember when i was 16 (27 years ago) i had his posters all over my wall. I adored him. I do think he’s happy wherever he is right now, you are lucky to have known him. I love to read your blogs you are one the most remarkable women out there. I admire and respect you tremendously. Sincerely Gloria

  12. I THINK THAT NOW MICHAEL CAN BE HAPPY AND PEACEFULL LIKE HE’S NEVER BEEN IN MANY YEARS. HE HAD THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS BUT HE WASN’T FREE TO BE WHAT HE WANTED TO. YOU’LL BE IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER, MICHAEL

  13. I like your words..in fact I like them a lot.
    If I was to write something to him or about him I’d like it would be like those.
    You are sensitive and kind! 🙂

    I thing about death all the time too and agree with you when you say that it’s a healthy thing to do as it is inevitable and thinking about it maybe help me not grab things too much and let them go. Maybe it’s the only way to reach peace.

    Best wishes!

    lia

  14. You have confirmed something for me that I have thought about ever since my grandmother died in 1983 when I was 9. We are all born to die. My mother and I talk about death often. It’s a part of life. Embrace all the beauty that we have around us now while we are living. Thank you so much for sharing your kind thoughts, Ms. Fonda. I am eternally grateful for your sincerity on this issue. I feel Michael Jackson is finally at rest and not in agony anymore.

  15. Michael Jackson always seemed very sad to me, except when he was on stage performing. Perhaps the real reason he gravitated to you was because he wanted to be your friend? You, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli, Michael.. you all grew up in the limelight and that is an experience very few can share. Maybe he thought of you as a kindred spirit, or just an icon to cling to. Don’t forget how iconic you are.. Hell, I want to hang out with you!

  16. It’s interesting to think about how everything happens for a reason. Looking back through experiences one can always find connections and answers. From what you’ve shared about him this was in God’s plan all along. Michael had entertained the earth and now is on to heaven to continue being a legend.

    Blessings,

    Chrissy

  17. I agree with you. I think he is definitely in a happier place. 50 was too early to go but he really tortured his soul fighting with demons and by the time he was 50 he must have already feeling like 100 years old. I love his music and his dancing. There is no better artist to deserve the title as ‘King of Pop’. Rest in peace Michael!

  18. That’s just lovely and quite well written. It’s a struggle to deal with the loss of a man about whom, I have so many conflicting feelings. You side-stepped all of that wonderfully, and got to the heart of it.

    Thank you.

  19. A genius of the pop music !
    I think that the fast passage didn´t make he feel !
    He died in Glory ! He is under the lights of all his public presentations now!

  20. Thanks Jane. Well said.

  21. Your attitude toward’s death is indeed healthy. Poor Michael. He really suffered during his life. I hope he has peace now.

  22. Dear Jane,

    It’s friends like you that made Michael the awesome friendly person he was. He was loved by so many people, and disliked, maybe hated? by so few.

    I don’t think he wanted you to be more than a friend to his being. Not to understand him, just accept. And MANY MANY people accepted Michael with passion.

    We’re all a bit numb. Shock on Friday, wow. By Sunday I think many of us were really questioning, is it real? Denial. It’s easier to deny isn’t it?

    Michael had so many messages for so many people. I said on Sunday at my show, I think we all let him down, even though we admired and respected Michael.

    How did we let him down? Look at his choice of songs and words. Racial boundaries were nonsense to him, as they are to me. Even his earlier songs were about humanity, the world, and juxtaposing what we do as humans with how we should be.

    That’s why I think we let Michael down. We didn’t all DO, we just watched, applauded and watched some more. I know I feel guilty, even though I haven’t the power to do anything, other than for myself, and my family.

    Maybe I’m just feeling saddened that even today when I walk the street, I can see to many it DOES matter if you are black or white. It DOES matter if you are different. Michael was the penultimate of Different, Passion, and Professionalism.

    Timeless, even today as my 4 year old dances and sings to Micheal’s Music, the music I grew up with. Timeless.

    Michael has amazing friends. Michael is an amazing friend.

    xx
    Alle

  23. My dear condolences to you who have lost a friend.
    I believe that death is just the next step in my spiritual evolution. I believe the body “dies” or transforms to the point that it no longer houses the spirit. Spirit however has everlasting life.
    I read a book called Journey of Souls. This man became a past life regressionist. He studied with Brian Weiss the author of “Many Lives Many Masters”.
    He found he was regressing people to a time inbetween lives. He studied this for 10 years and raises some interesting questions. Where does the “soul” go inbetween living in a physical body?
    The thing that impressed me the most was the great comfort and joy so many expressed experiencing during and after death.
    The spirits wanted us to celebrate not grieve.
    I pray the “circus” around MJ’s death will subside soon and that we will all do a celebration dance for the wonderful things that MJ brought to this planet.
    As fans we will never know for sure what the rest of it is all about and frankly it is not our business. We don’t own celebrities for goodness sake! I hate the tabloids! I love that twitter allows you to communicate with us directly. Maybe gossip will experience a death of it own.
    Thank you for reaching out to us.

  24. Whatever was eating Michael Jackson was certainly complicated. I enjoyed your tidbit of insight on your time with him. But I don’t think it’s odd that Michael didn’t like talking about death. I think it varies for everyone and different cultures handle death differently. I personally don’t like to think about death either. And talk about it? Never. It wouldn’t stop me for preparing for it (life insurance, creating a will, etc.), but otherwise I fear I may speak it into existence. Sounds weird, but that’s how I feel about anything I want to hold off from happening. I know death will find me one day, but I’m certainly not chasing after it. It will have to catch me.

  25. Dear Jane,

    I was thinking lately… Why ones leave a full life, than dies and remembers NOTHING of it! Did you ever thought about it this why?

    I’m scared of Death. Not from dying. For that exact reason – that there is nothing after it.

    Michael was the sound of my youth. I’m European and as many people around the world we were waiting for his videos to come out. What an event that was! It was so incredibly sad to watch all his videos all over again knowing that nor my youth, nor him will return ever again.

    Just like you I was trying to understand Michael but from much further prospective. He was portrayed as weird, strange and bizarre. Than last night I’ve watched the BET Music Awards because I knew it will be all about him. His father Joe was on the red carpet, all smiles, promoting his new project.

    After what I saw, I have no more questions about why Michel’s sanity was in question. His monster father put an end to all speculations and doubts I’ve ever had.

  26. Thanks. There are alot of fans out here grieving. It makes it just a bit easier to hear from people who knew him.

    I keep wondering if he had ever had any professional help. What would have been if he had just talked about what must have been so many layers of psychological stumbling blocks.

  27. Thanks for this insightful blog. You have given a great to the point commentary that made michael a little easier to understand.

  28. I assumed that your silence on these days was the death of Jackson. It was not an artist I like, musically speaking. Nor does lift a finger. When death is unexpected reminder that we are vulnerable. I felt great sadness at the death of Fawcett (he was a hero of my childhood) and Koko Taylor, who spent much unnoticed. From Uruguay with love.

  29. Life and death are partners it seems. He was a tormented soul. Thanks for breaking it out down like this Jane. Your voice inspires me and so many others thanks for the tweets and the blog.

  30. I’m saddened in a way I didn’t think possible. Especiially since I didn’t know MIchael. I guess it brings my own mortality into issue. But I love him none the same. I’m glad he knew you, Jane.

  31. I doubt he feared death as much as he didn’t want to the power to the thought – a little superstitious perhaps. Maybe not, but I believe he was a hyper-sensitive individual and it is hard for them to separate fantasy from reality sometimes.

  32. Lindo! maravilhoso isso!
    Michael descansou de seus demónios…que tanto o fizeram sofrer em vida….e porque não lembrar um refrão de uma música, do cantante uruguaio Jorge Drexler….”porque morir tambien es ley de vida”….

  33. You are such a wonderful writer, Jane. And I loved your thoughts on both Michael and death. I am a grandmother now too and am reading Deepak’s Burden of Proof–After Death Experiences. So your comments came at the perfect time for me to hear this. Know that you are loved too.

  34. It was not his time,My prayer is that Jehovah ,give his
    family peace,understanding,and forgiveness. Dr need more compassion. The Jackson Family have my deepest
    sympathy.
    peace & love.

    Baabs

  35. i had no idea you knew him so well. i’ve been tryin to make sense of his death (i’m a huge fan) and i think that you’re right for him to have a quick death was the best thing. it’s really strange cause when i heard he died my first thought was “that’s impossible michael jackson can’t die.” his death his helping me deal with my own mortality. thanks for your story on knowing someone THE WORLD that we knew. as for michael friendships with older women i always thought that he always surrounded himself with people he thought were skilled in areas. i heard an interview with liza minnelli talkin bout how he would have dinner with gene kelly her father and her once a week STUDING. he was dedicated. then i think of his friendship with Katharine Hepburn and i realize he wanted to be around the best (Srry this post was kind of long)
    from taylor

  36. I too am glad that Michael had a quick death although I am very sad that he is gone now. I also feel that he is free of his demons at last and that’s a good thing.

    Michael was an artist and his art deserves to be revered and celebrated for the gifts they are to all of us. That he suffered for his art is clear; while his suffering has ended, his art will endure.

    Linda M. Lopeke
    The SMARTSTART Coach

  37. Jane Fonda, I admire you so much! You really touched me with this post. I think that if Michael Jackson was able to read what you’ve just written, he would feel the luckiest guy on the whole planet, for having you as a friend.
    I’m glad you shared this with us.

    Greetings from Portugal

  38. Jane, I wish I had your wisdom and your beautiful way with words to express that wisdom and the sentiments that a lot of us are feeling at this time. Michael Jackson may be dead but his name and music will live forever.

  39. You are a wise woman Jane Fonda.

  40. This is the most honest and thought provoking statement I have read on the death of Michael by someone who knew him. Startling, moving and completely unselfconscious. I feel privileged to have read it.

  41. A fitting tribute for a talented enigma.

  42. Lovely blog Jane – I agree with your thoughts all the way – Wise and beautiful . : )

  43. This kind of says it all. Great insight to such a troubled soul.

  44. Thank you for sharing such a lovely memory with us… And positivity.

  45. WELL SAID.

  46. I felt very much the same about his passing as soon as the numbness wore off that he’s no longer here. I only hoped he felt good about himself before he passed and I’m glad he is no longer suffering. I always worried for him in this existence – he seemed to be as tortured as a human being can be. I’m usually sensitive about these things, but unlike most people I knew, I was relieved for him – not sad. I spent more time honoring Farrah’s memory that day and the next…

  47. Thank you for sharing this.

  48. Wow, thank you for sharing. All I know of Michael was what appeared in the media. Somehow, I feel, he was an old soul; floundering through life as so many others do.

  49. My memories of you are long and winding. I remember you because I loved your fathers movies. I like yours too, even Barberlla. Klute was my favorite next to On Golden Pond. Jane you are a sensational women, your thoughts are beautiful, your life has been amazing. You are a treasure. This is from a man who read your remarks concerning rehearshing, a novel concept. I wish I could have know you right after your divorce to RV before Ted T… what a women you were then. God Bless You

  50. I was completely shocked to hear about Michael’s passing. At first, I even thought it was a rumor going around, and that I’d soon be reading that the whole thing was false. But it wasn’t. Sometimes I think that those who are as afraid of dying as MJ was, are bound to have their lives taken younger than those who focus on living. They seem to get super anxious about avoiding something unavoidable, and they forget to live. Perhaps that anxiety built up over all these years and added to his heart attack. I dunno. It’s sad, though, dying young and leaving two children behind.

    Death didn’t used to scare me all that much. It’s gonna happen not matter what, but what I think scares me the most now is that when I look back on my life at the end, will I be satisfied with my accomplishments, will I have had a successful life? I don’t want to end up on my death bed having major regrets and thinking I lead a mediocre life. I want to know that I made an impact somewhere on someone (hopefully a positive one) and that I won’t be forgotten.

    If I look back and see a life unlived, an unfinished life, I think that will be the true misfortune.

    Also, I think sometimes the fear comes from the “way” in which you will die, not necessarily the death part. Dying peacefully in your sleep or quickly would be the ideal way to go. I can’t imagine having a long, drawn-out, painful death. That’s infinitely more frightening than death itself.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, Jane. It’s sad that Michael can no longer be with us, but I do think he’s probably “free of his demons” and at peace now.

    All my best,
    Amanda

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