Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney, Jeanne Eagels, and Junior High

In the soundtrack of my formative years, Whitney held a pretty big place.  Anyone who grew up in the 80s and early 90s remembers her songs constantly on the radio.  When I was in 7th grade, we had to do a project on all the things that made us who we are.  I can’t recall for the life of me the other things I brought in, aside from one: my newly-acquired “Whitney” cassette. 

Some of the kids laughed – they were the ones too cool for pop – but as far as I was concerned they were stupid.  How could they not want to listen to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and ask their mom to curl their hair and tie a big scarf in it just like hers and generally think she was the most wicked thing to come out of the 80s since Cyndi Lauper?  She was so fresh, so new, so perfectly 1987.  What was wrong with them?

(They just needed a little time, was all.  Five short years later those same kids were bombarding Z100 with votes to make “I Will Always Love You” the #1 song of the day yet again.  And attempting to sing it themselves during choir finals, but that’s a whole other ear-bleeding story.)

This whole tragic situation got me thinking about Jeanne Eagels.  She was a brilliant stage actress of the 1910s and 20s, remembered best for originating the role of Sadie Thompson in Rain.  Like Whitney, she was discovered early, and her extreme talent caused all who witnessed it to catch their breath.  Unfortunately, also like Whitney, she suffered from substance abuse problems, and although indirectly, they were the cause of her untimely death at age 39.  You can learn more about her here, if you like:  Jeanne Eagels

Ladies with so much magic still left in them to share with the world.  Completely unnecessary deaths.  It's sad, too, knowing that this is going to happen again and again, and that it will be only too soon that we'll be shaking our heads and mourning yet another heartbreaking loss.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Brilliant comparison, beautifully written. Keep them coming.