One of the mental games I often play is something I call “What if ...”
Sometimes, when I think of those I love who have gone on, I think about how old they would be and sometimes wonder what they would look like.
I wonder in my mind how my mother would look at age 86 or my dad at 95. I look at elderly people that are the same age as my parents and do a little mental imagery.
Occasionally, I think the same thoughts about famous people.
Elvis Presley, for example, would have turned 78 this month. It’s just hard to imagine Elvis as an elderly man.
James Brown was 73 when he died six years ago. But the Godfather still had his trademark moves almost to the end.
Elvis, had he lived, might have replaced one or both of the hips that generated so much controversy when he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Those hips were so controversial that the censors only allow young Elvis to be shown from the waist up.
Would he still be in the jumpsuit or would he have found another fashion statement?
Sadly, Elvis is frozen in my mind as the sad, bloated man we saw in his final appearances.
This November, it will be 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was young and handsome. It is hard to imagine that this year he would turn 96.
Several years ago, some really outlandish tabloid suggested that Kennedy was living on a secluded island and had a cover image of an elderly JFK. Bear in mind, this was the same tabloid that carried headlines like, “Monkey Performs Brain Surgery.”
While the story about Kennedy had no credence, it still made me think about how the 1960s would have been different if Kennedy had not been killed.
There are so many people who are forever frozen in our minds at a young age. Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Patsy Cline are just a few that come to mind. They have achieved legendary status, but all died much too young.
The after-life Elvis has been a financial success. Folks plunk down anywhere from $30 to $70 to tour Graceland mansion. The Presley estate has licensed everything from clocks with swiveling hip motion to mouse pads, something that had not been invented when the king left us.
He still sells a ton of music, including new packages of his old hits.
Michael Jackson has eclipsed Elvis as the “Highest Earning Deceased Artist,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Unlike the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the King of Pop’s family is still fighting like cats and dogs over his money.
Jackson was reportedly having financial problems when he died. His estate is now worth in the neighborhood of $1 billion. He was trying for a comeback when he died of an overdose of medicine they are only supposed to give you during surgery.
It’s ironic that a person who was often associated with botched surgery died that way.
I don’t ever play the “What if …” game involving Michael Jackson. If I did, I would hope he got his nose back.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.