Liz Smith: Michael Jackson and Drugs — Who Didn’t Know?! And Can Dr. Conrad Murray Really Be Blamed?
And more from our Gossip Girl: Liz covers Bette Midler’s Hulaween Gala
“THERE WILL be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting,” said George Carlin.
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YESTERDAY I wrote a little bit about observing the Michael Jackson–Dr. Conrad Murray trial in L.A.
It reminded me of a Vanity Fair story way back in 1995 by that excellent sleuth Maureen Orth. This article dealt with vagaries in Michael’s life — for instance the controversial Diane Sawyer ABC-TV interview with Michael and his momentary bride, Lisa Marie Presley. (This was when there was a $30 million dollar marketing campaign for Jackson’s double album “HIStory.” The talented singer-dancer was still standing accused of having paid a hefty price to stop charges of molestation of a 13-year-old boy. And the statute of limitations said the case could be reopened anytime before 1999, although ABC didn’t get that part quite right.)
This was all pretty heady stuff, and it careened into further unquenchable morbidities, a divorce from the still-silent-on-the-details, still loyal Ms. Presley … another 2005 molestation trial from which Michael emerged “not guilty” but seeming to be guilty of something … and the wonderment and suspicion down the years until Michael tragically died from an overdose in 2009.
Let me just say that “in the business,” everybody pretty much believed after the year 1978 — when Michael performed onscreen in “The Wiz” — that this vastly gifted performer was not only “on” something but majorly confused by reality. One has only to observe him shopping for gaudy expensive baubles in the 2003 Martin Bashir documentary to realize he was living both a dream and a nightmare.
I not only attended the Elizabeth Taylor wedding to Larry Fortensky and watched Michael walk her down the aisle at Neverland, but I had met Michael on his debut movie set. Then, I heard more than enough about him in the years in between. And I learned more, especially while visiting a popular dermatologist (recommended by just about everybody in Hollywood) named Arnie Klein. His office helper was Deborah Rowe, who I also met and later interviewed. She became the surrogate mother for Michael’s children Prince and Paris, but who knows? Today, all I remember is that Michael’s drug-taking, in addition to everything else, was a known fact.
Re-reading the magazine piece that appeared in 1995, written by Ms. Orth, I find this little nugget, which I had totally forgotten: “Liz Smith has reported that Jackson wanted Princess Diana to be with him on the Sawyer interview, to commiserate about the sufferings imposed by tabloid coverage, and that he queried the British Embassy in Washington about being knighted by the Queen for ‘his work with little children.’ According to an observer, he actually was working behind the scenes to see if the Queen would knight him right there on “PrimeTime Live.” This was one demand that was not met.”
This item alone, if it could have been proved, indicates that Michael Jackson often worked from a position of specific delusions of grandeur that obviated everything else.
His drug taking increased along with his tabloid positives and negatives. So, given that drugs became the almighty escape from his delusions, it seems logical that this tortured genius of a performer might well have given himself the dose of Propofol that Dr. Murray was denying him.
The doctor is his own worst enemy on the witness stand, but I’m hoping he gets off. Enough already!
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IT WAS thrilling to see, talk to and get a hug from the one and only Bette Midler on the night of her Hulaween gala, benefiting New York Restoration Project, which happens at the Waldorf each year near Halloween.
Ms. Midler is largely recovered from the back and neck problems besetting her earlier. She looked terrific, all togged out as the “Bavarian Bride of the Dead” in the charity event that raises millions annually.
In her black costume fitted with skulls and lights twinkling on her behind, Bette went on to celebrate with Stevie Wonder in a crowd that totally “dressed” for the evening. There were a clutch of people made up as flies. There were witches, devils, vampires and, shining in the middle, a girl wearing the Pan Am blue uniform. Chairwoman Margo Nederlander was glam as a pregnant Evita Peron, escorted by her “dictator” husband Jimmy.
Bette made her usual quip about starting it all by “picking up garbage” and saying of her own costume: “I must say, even dead I look fabulous.” Comic Judy Gold was much too tall and good-looking to be Chaz Bono but she was a big hit otherwise.
This is a great charity. It’s fun and it makes New York and environs look 2000% better.