Two guys from Gary

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They were both from Gary, Indiana and died within a few days of each other..And that’s where the comparison stopped.

I refer here to the American actor Karl Malden and the Michael Jackson, the dysfunctional “King of Pop”.

Malden died at 97 surrounded by loved ones a wife of 70 years and several great grankids. Jackson died surrounded by sycophants including doctors who acceded to his every crazy whim.

Both came from minority communities striving hard to achieve the American dream. Malden (born Sekulovich) was the son of Czech and Croatian parents. Jackson was the son of Afro-American parents.

Malden worked in the Gary steel mills for three years before going on to theatre school and a life in the cinema. His greatest role was as the priest in the movie of the twentieth century On the Waterfront. For this he won the 1954 Oscar as the best supporting actor.

Jackson driven by  a manic father arrived as a child star then, breaking free became a pop ikon with dazzling dance moves. His life was plagued by scandals, self hatred and bizarre behaviour. Like the King before him Elvis, Jackson died a pill popping shadow of himself, the fodder of countless jokes by white and balck comedians.

The lives of the Paterson, N.J. poet William Carlos Williams applied equally to both Presley and Jackson.

“The pure products of America go crazy.”

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