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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  1. “Death, after all, is what gives life meaning…”

    I’d circumvent an answer to this saying by proposing that we just support the relevant science to add healthy years to our lives. This is why I’m taking a keen interest in the work of Aubrey de Grey. (Here’s de Grey’s pithy presentation at TED.)

  2. Thanks for that insight , interesting and it says alot about what was going on inside. That is a concept that works with your research on aging, that organic process of growing older and showing the effects of incressing age. The qualites of being left to the undisturbed, or growing old is a idea that some find not to have adaptabitity. The inability to change and to be changed or to change our circummstances.
    Thanks Jane, very interesting post

  3. MJ is forever young! Love him or hate him… He has had an undeniable impact on the music the world over! He may never be completely understood but will forever be loved and remembered …..

  4. Hi Jane,
    I think the Jackson Family should hire a private investigator to follow that Doctor Murray around for the next couple of years. I believe this Doctor knows where all of Michael’s money is hidden, here in the States, plus in the Middle East and Europe.

    Any ordinary person with common sense, would know that when a heart patient is moved, they automatically go into cardiac arrest. I heard Michael was lifted onto the bed when he collasped on the floor, and if so the movement alone would give him cardiac arrest. The Doctor knows Michael would have to be on a flat surface for CPR to work, so why would he do a stupid thing and move him to the bed, where the mattress goes up and down, doing nothing for CPR.

    They need to wiretap the Doctors phone calls, and his family and his sisters phones, then they will get to the truth of it all.

    Johnny

  5. Jane, Followed you quite a while now, and my heart breaks for you, and anyone who knew the man personally. He was my 23 year old son’s hero “back in the day” and we have all grieved over this tragedy. Try to remember the good you found in him, because the good in him was bountiful.

    HUGZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  6. BTW, hope you are healing well….

  7. Michael Jackson was maybe playing throughout is life the childhood he never had.

    Un enfant perdu en fait, avec un talent enorme.

    Merci pour vos pensees.

  8. It will take a while to process the life and death of this musical genius. Thanks for your story–it’s easy to picture that scene.

    I saw him once, actually got his autograph for my daughter, before he had plastic surgery, and when he still had dark skin and an afro. Very gentle and soft spoken.

    But what a performer! What a phenomenon! He made everybody want to dance–in fact, he actually made most of us dance. That’s what I think of him. They say Fred Astaire made dancing look easy; Michael Jackson made us want to do it too!

  9. ohhh, by the way… Michael shared a prayer with us all in his song “will you be there” from his dangerous album. I knew then that he was in pain. I said so to his mother at that time. His mother and mine were having afternoon tea at the encino house… I was at work in the studio with a project with Jermaine and the Temptations. Listen to his plea in that song. I know we all loved Mike and we wished we could have gotten Jesus further into his life, then.

    God Bless

  10. you are truly amazing thank you for the blog.

  11. Very interesting story and quite foresightful. I agree that he would have had a hard time having to become an “old man”.

  12. To face our own death is not an easy task. Maybe you’re right, MJ wouldn’t be happy getting older. As you said, ‘free of his demons’, we will remember him as a pop music icon.

  13. Nice observation. I never thought about Michael’s self image in that way before. It’s opened my eyes a little because I believe ther is some truth in your words. When all is said and done tho…I don’t think he had a massive heart attack. Even the thought of that sounds far from peaceful. I hope he did go peacefully tho.

  14. Hi Jane,
    I am a Buddhist I also played drums with Herbie Hancock who turned me on to Buddhism in the 70’s and I have been chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo ever since. Since life and death are part of life I agree with you about not being afraid to die and that death gives life meaning. Doesn’t each artist want to reach people all over the world? Michaels music is the background for peoples daily lives for many years the world over so in my book he accomplished his mission although his death hit me very hard. I know many guys that recorded with him and said he was the nicest guy. I think what you wrote about Michael is very honest and feels right to me even though I didn’t know him, just a feel about him from what I heard here and there. Anyway I have been a big fan of yours always on the issues as well as your films that I have really dug. I have been a jazz musicain since I was four so that gives one and little different look at the world, not more knowledgeable but different. Maybe….LOL
    Sincerely,
    Mike Clark

  15. I don’t understand how you rehearse your death? How do you know how you are going to die? One might infer from this and other statements you have made about being “intentional” about death that you would do a Cleopatra at some point. I do not think that this is a good avenue to go down. No…not good at all…. Also, Billy Mays died today, close to the same premature age as MJ. Many young people die from substance abuse such as prescription drugs, which may have contributed here as well. Celebs should get real and provide a better example to young people than to dwell on death and/or taking the easy way out. There is too much death culture out there already with many young people feeling surprised and lost when they do in fact live past 25. Well, you could look at any age limit the same way, even 100. So stop being weird Jane…Hey, I know an old guy, 96, who is preoccupied with his imminent demise, even though he is still very sharp and feisty; he is making a “death book” and sending multiple copies to friends and relatives…but to me, this just makes him look really crazy…still, I play along and helped him buy a laser printer so he could keep his documents updated faster! At 96, you can go anytime, right?? He is so happy now to whiz those pages out!!! Yes, some people build pyramids their whole life and forget about the real meaning of it…

  16. That was very eloquently written. I do not think anyone wants to die. Michael Jackson was 50 years of age, but I think in his heart he thought of himself as much younger. As an entertainer that had massive exposure when he was a child, through his peak creative period of the 1980’s, Michael had the chance to merely pop in a dvd and see himself 20-30 years younger. It must have haunted him to do so. Being in films as well can have that same affect. As an average Joe, I can look back at photographs, but very few films of myself as a younger man. I kinda like that. This way, I can always look ahead. I live by the saying..Remember the past..Dream of Tomorrow, but live for Today. You are about 70 years of age, and have aged gracefully. Michael Jackson was trying not to age, both outwardly in internally. You are spot on with the fact that Michael Jackson would not have enjoyed aging. He is at peace now. His music will endure for generations to come.

  17. A beard? You crack me up Jane!
    Well I’m glad I didn’t miss anything while you were away from the blog.
    I was having computer issues so I was away too.
    Bought a new one. Not to sure I’m crazy about the
    key board. The rectanglar shaped computer rather than the square seem to have stretch the key boards out.
    Reaching the keys is a challenge. Thankful for long fingers.
    Hope your enjoying your new Apple?
    How the keyboard on that one?

  18. I volunteer for a group called Supporting Our Youth for their Monday night meal drop-in for queer youth. There is a good free meal and an activity.

    Tonight, at the drop-in, we played a compilation DVD of Michael Jackson’s music videos. There wasn’t a lot of talking in the room. The youth were entralled by the videos. I was too. Michael Jackson was so talented. He was up there with Judy Garland as one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time.

    It was wonderful watching these videos, most of which I had not seen before.

  19. I’m still surprised that someone as unique and priviledged as Michael Jackson never sought the therapy he could so easily have received. There was something so chronically self-indulgent in his pursuit of fantasy, and of course the company of youth. He was a brilliant singer and dancer but his original work production basically stopped in his thirties, after Thriller. One wonders what great music he might have created if he’d only confronted his demons more responsibly instead of indulging his eccentricities.

  20. Another great blog. I’ve missed them, but totally understand about life playing itself out. I think Michael Jackson was full of love.

    Most of us are afraid of death and don’t talk about it. It would be much better if we did, and shared our feelings with those close to us. I had a cancer scare a few years ago, and while I have fully recovered and am cancer free, I think about death more.

    My will is in order, and all my plans are written. I do find myself wondering when my death will occur. I live my life a lot more in the present than I did before cancer, and try not to put things off, or save things for good. Use them now.

    If I knew I only had a short time though, I would rather spend it doing things I enjoy and traveling, instead of working, although I enjoy my work and I’m proud of what I do. A lot of people can’t say that.
    B

  21. Jane, I was so excited when you became a Christian. You always had a movie project throughout my life, out there where the ‘glamor’ people were. I became a Christian because ‘stuff’ in my life was suffocating me and I needed Life; a broken marriage being the immediate cause. When you also embraced the “Christian” identity publicly I was thrilled because you went from being a beautiful movie star to being a “sister in the Lord’. You still are the most knock-out good-looking senior I have ever seen. Your candor and honesty in your writings are indication of your interior beauty. P.S. could you in time write about some of the personal issues regarding where you are now in relation to Jesus. Regards ahti

  22. I could not say better … Always he try to go into a bubble that did not hurt so bad and now is free and hopefully only God help you to be completely happy, thank you for your words reached deep into my heart, you are a noble person

  23. Very well said Ms. Fonda. I share some of your outlook on death and on Michael Jackson being free of his demons. I can’t say always admired his actions, but his music is remarkable. I think you put in to words what many less hysterical fans feel.
    Thanks for that.

  24. Jane – I just started your book “My Life So Far”….it’s awesome. I love getting to know you and your family. You tell one heck of a story. I didn’t know you had a website. I was just looking at TMZ and saw a tweet message with this link to your MJ blog. Came on over and read it. I thought the exact thing you did – he is free of his demons. Hope you have an easy recover from your knee surgery. Take care.

  25. Wow, that is a wonderful blog…

  26. Jane I believe your thoughts are correct. He is at peace and now knows real love.

  27. maybe you are at the stage in your life to think about death. I’ve started to think a little about it, and I’m only in my 20s. Then again, it could just be grief, and grief can lead us to strange places in our minds. I know, not only because of personal loss, but because of the recent deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

    I think Michael became friends with you to maybe find a mother figure. He wasn’t able to see his mother since he was always on the road, starting at an early age. I think he found comfort in such friends, because he never wanted to be alone. Be proud you were friends with him, it’s what he might have wanted.

  28. What a talent he was. So sad he’s gone.

  29. Wow that was real. After all the blather I’ve heard these past days this was an honest share.

  30. Thank you for sharing. My first job was a Certified Nursing Assistant. I will never forget the first elderly man I had seen dead. My head nurse was wonderful and calm as I was. It was all peaceful and personal. Everybody that passes on is his/hers own personal experience and they can die any way they choose. With or with out loved ones there, things like that. My mother passed Aug. 2008 and I knew for sure I would be by her side. Well guess what, no I wasn’t. She died in her way not mine

  31. Jane, my guess is that Michael was in love with, uplifted and inspired by your ageless, fearless lifeforce, spirit and muse. That he saw himself in you. That you were a role model. Please don’t rehearse dying too often. Your mind is so strong, you might make it happen.

    With love, Nirmala

  32. I think the older woman represented for Michael Jackson the freedom of not having to *perform* for the type of person that could see through the act & get to the very heart of him. Older women tend to ‘cut the crap’ and with people like Liza Minelli, Liz Taylor, Diana Ross & you, Jane, he didn’t have the pressure of living up to a persona. With his siblings, Michael may have felt competitive; so the ‘act’ was present: for his father Joe, Michael had to BECOME the act: his mother Katherine, an older woman, supported the act but didn’t expect Michael to be both at the same time…

  33. Just found your blog. I met you briefly in Atlanta, GA in an elevator of the CNN building. I was on my way to the then Office of Adult Education (Literacy). I have always admired your work and was very impress with your involvement in the literacy effort.

    Thanks for sharing your thought about Michael Jackson. I have loved him and his work for more than 40 years. I am mourning the loss of a sweet sensitive soul, like so many others around the world.

  34. Hi Jane, From a 66 yo “down under”, did you read Lisa Marie’s tribute on Myspace ? It was very moving as your own blog was. How is the knee ? The events of this past week would surely assist in helping cope with the pain by taking your mind away from it ? I hope that you can make it here before too long, this country has an aging population that need encouragement in hip and knee “repairs”. Cheers and kindest wishes, Rodway

  35. thanks for sharing. Michael will forever live in our hearts.

  36. So glad to know you are OK. I was worried. I read your blog every day and have enjoyed it so much. Very sad about Michael. Such a tortured soul, hope he is at peace now!

  37. Dear Mrs Fonda, that was a vey thoughtful, insightful piece you wrote on Michael. I guess i’m like Michael was, finding it hard to think about death. I don’t even want to buy a funeral insurance, let alone think about where i want to be buried. But the most difficult inevitable think to cope with is aging and – obsessed with his physical appearance as MJ was- he would hardly handle aging. But it’s part of growing up, accepting the phases of life and lately i’m getting less and less frantic about it.
    I wil save your text because i think i have to read it’s down to earthness from time to time again.Thank you and greetings from Amsterdam! (and by the way, we share the same birthday)

  38. dear Jane–

    No need to publish this, but it’s The Wiz (as in, short for The Wizard of Oz), not The Whiz (as in, peeing)…

    Thanks for all that you do.

    D~

  39. Thanks for sharing that moment with us at your ranch. You’re right, going quickly was probably best for him. I always thought of him as a lost soul, totally disconnected not only with the world because of his fame, but from his own spirit. I do believe his intent to make the world a better, more loving place was real, but coming from a battered and broken child’s heart he simply lost his way.

  40. hope you are well. It is a very sad time now with Farrah and Micheal gone. I believe that they are both in a better place and there love ones will see them when it is there time. I always say There is a big card game up in the sky and we will get a sat when it is are time and we will get to see all the people we miss & love. Take care & keep working that knee.

  41. Those are the KINDEST words regarding Michael Jackson. I am not a big fan of his and what he was accused of doing but I do believe he had Demons.
    I agree, death is not to be feared.
    Your the best

  42. Well put Ms. Fonda! Hope to see you in Atlanta one day or better yet on the big screen! Best Wishes

  43. A somewhat disturbing memory – but one that goes a long way in explaining the why of Michael’s life that the rest of us saw in the brief, tabloid-driven glimpses we had of his life. Thursday was a strange, sad day. Sky Saxon’s death rounded out the day.

  44. Ms. Fonda — thank you for this post, I don’t think it could be said any better!

    You are a huge idol of mine, thank you for all of your work and thoughts and contributions to society.

    -Rob Rhoades
    Albany, NY

  45. VERY well said Jane regarding Michael, SUCH insight!

    LOVELY words!

  46. Miss Fonda, I would like to first thank you for being such a true friend to Michael through all these years…always having his back when so many people who claimed to know and care for him turned there backs and ran for cover because of “Stormy Weather” in his life. What I love about you miss Fonda is that out off all the bs that was said about MJ you always,”ALWAYS” had good things to to say and I love and appreciate that about you. Miss Fonda I’m an Artist from Detroit MI. and I have had the honor of presenting my work to Mr. Jackson and I wish there was a way that I could show the work that I’ve done for him..so, I’ll leave you some links so that you can have a look. 😉

    http://tinyurl.com/nh39ga
    http://tinyurl.com/m266es
    http://tinyurl.com/m266es

  47. I’m sorry Miss Fonda the links didn’t work but if there is an email address I can send them to I’d be more then happy.:)

  48. Thanks for the thoughts, Jane. I am so sad about Michael Jackson’s death. He was an extraordinary talent and icon. He didn’t have it easy. Let’s hope and pray that he’s now at peace.

  49. Yours is probably the sanest tribute to Michael Jackson I’ve read. It also isn’t ‘wierd’ to come to terms with our mortality. I think it makes the time we have here more meaningful.

  50. Hey Jane, saw you last night at the Mandy & Patti concert. Thought you looked really pretty, wonderfully fit, and adorably dressed. That was some concert, huh! Life goes on….

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