Tuesday a co-worker noted that Keanu Reeves just turned 44 years old. I had mentally filed this bit away for later disposal when I read that Michael Jackson turned 50 last week. Something about that narrow age difference struck me, and led to a gaggle of Googling.
George Clooney and Brad Pitt have a movie coming out. Clooney is 47 (as is Barack Obama), Pitt 44. Madonna is 50. Bono is 48. Condoleeza Rice is 51. All well within Jackson's age group. Yet all were far from attaining celebrity when the Jackson 5 danced up the singles charts in early 1970, sharing chart space with Elvis, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra. Gary Glitter, who would enjoy considerable musical success in the U.K. and later be convicted of offenses similar to those of which Jackson has been accused, was still known as Paul Raven. M*A*S*H, Patton, and Love Story were released. John McCain was a POW, George W. Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard, and the Watergate burglaries were two years away.
More than enough has been said and written about Jackson (his Wikipedia article is huge), but it's a milestone like 50 that reminds us just how much has been crammed into a relatively short life. Fronting an internationally successful band at 12; the massive solo career; the highs, lows and miscellaneous weirdness of his personal life - any of those would be more than enough to power a celebrity career. Just look at all those who make a fine living off so much less.