RIP Vonetta McGee

From the LA Times:

Vonetta McGee, an actress whose big-screen heyday during the blaxploitation era of the 1970s included leading roles in “Blacula” and “Shaft in Africa,” has died. She was 65.

McGee died Friday at a hospital in Berkeley after experiencing cardiac arrest and being on life support for two days, said family spokeswoman Kelley Nayo. Although McGee had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 17, Nayo said, her death was not related to the disease.

McGee was described as “one of the busiest and most beautiful black actresses” by Times movie reviewer Kevin Thomas in 1972, the year she appeared opposite Fred Williamson in the black action movie “Hammer,” and had starring roles in the crime-drama “Melinda” and the horror film “Blacula.”

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MJ: The Love Songs

A Michael Jackson ballad is something special. Although many of them did not gain the popularity of his dance hits, MJ’s love songs were all soulful, heartfelt, and just plain sweet. Here are a few of my favorites:

MJ: 1993 Super Bowl Halftime Show

So in 1993 a few hundred lucky kids in the Los Angeles area got a once in a lifetime experience…perform in the Super Bowl Halftime Show with Michael Jackson!  Now, just to give you a little background on me, I was the BIGGEST MJ fan I knew!  My cousins and I would play Thriller about 500 times a day and re-inact the video.  We all had the Michael Jackson doll (mine had on the Beat It outfit with one shinny silver glove).  When MJ caught on fire, I cried!  So needless to say this was huge for me!

We practiced for weeks, never with Michael of course (I was one of the kids on the field in black and white with the black and white board; left side, in one of the first 3 rows, on the very end closest to the end zone), so I knew I was going to be excited when he came out!  Our coaches and the choreographers kept telling us that when MJ comes out, we have to remember that we are part of the performance and that we have to control our emotions.  I was like, come on now, “I’m a dancer, a performer, I’m not going to be like these other people at his concerts passing out and acting all crazy”.

Performance begins, POP, out the top of one jumbo-tron, “aww, nope that’s not him, must be an impersonator”, I thought.  Then again, POP, out of the second jumbo-tron, “what do they think I’m stupid, that’s so not him”, I said.  Then, big explosion, and POP, out comes MJ in the center of the stage!  I LOST MY MIND!  Commence the screaming, pulling my hair, threw down my board, darted for the stage, and yes, peed on myself just a little!  Our coaches were on the sidelines yelling at us to get into position, but we all had lost it!  We finally pulled ourselves together, but that was the most exhilarating experience in my life!

Being that I never got to see him in concert, I am so glad I had the opportunity to participate in this show.  It’s definitely one of the coolest things that I have done in my life!


Gone Too Soon

I remember the first time I saw Thriller in its entirety. I was glued to the television, paying close attention to every detail. I loved Michael Jackson. I would watch his large dance sequences and mimic the moves in my head until I knew them by heart because I was too shy to practice them. When I was 11, my mother told my brother and I that she won a contest and we would be visiting Neverland Ranch. I all but passed out. That place is a child’s dream land. It’s like a carnival, zoo, go cart track, movie theater and arcade rolled into one. It wasn’t as flashy as you would think Michael’s lifestyle would be. The best part was, everything was free and unlimited. I didn’t get to see him, unfortunately, and I cried when it was time to go but that was one day I will never forget for as long as I live.

Another day I will never forget is the day of his passing. It started off as a bad one long before I learned of Michael’s cardiac arrest. I was at work when the news hit. My concentration was shot and I ended up leaving work early. I couldn’t believe it. I always figured Michael Jackson would pass away in my lifetime but… I wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t ready for him to leave us. I wanted him to be around because I felt like we still needed someone like him. My selfish thoughts wouldn’t allow me to see that he was in a better place, free from all the scrutiny, pain and disappointment. I also did not think about all he’s left with us in terms of music, performance, and spirit all of which can be seen in many of our music and performing artists today.

His influence is like no other. Never again will we have such an influential and inspirational performer such as Michael Jackson. Never again will anyone be able to touch the lives and hearts of millions the way the he did. As long as I am alive, his memory will not be forgotten.

MJ: Dancing Machine

This song has always been amazing, but a little video research unearths how many times Michael Jackson had to perform it, and how many different ways he could break it down. Check it out:

MJ: Commercials

Any epic celebrity will be asked to endorse a product or two, and Michael Jackson being the biggest star on Earth had his fair share. Here are a few:


LA Gear:

Esonic TV:

And of course, Pepsi:

MJ: Rare Interviews

After Michael jackson became a solo artist, there was a 14-year period where he entered into reclusivity and did not do interviews. The footage from interviews before that time period are rarely shown. Here are a few:

Soulbeat Network (1979)

Sylvia Chase with The Jacksons (1980):

On the set of “Beat It”:

Entertainment Tonight (1983)

MJ: Off The Wall

When MJ passed, I dealt with my grief by watching as much live video of him as possible, and I came across some gems. Check out this live performance of “Off The Wall”.