Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who's World's Greatest Entertainer?

During the Michael Jackson memorial today numerous speakers described MJ as "the world's greatest entertainer."
It's quite an accolade.
But so many others have also been exalted as "the greatest."
As long as there have been entertainers people have been trying to identify "the greatest." This has been an especially popular pastime in the modern media age.
Indeed, the 20th century has been replete with "greatest entertainers."
Today, at Jackson's memorial someone sang the song "Smile." You know this song ("although a tear may be ever so near . . . "). But how many people know that the song was written by Charlie Chaplin? Chaplin was not only a great movie actor but also a comedian, musician, writer, director, mime and acrobat. He started as a music hall performer in England. He surely must be considered one of the greatest entertainers ever and his work has certainly endured. His legacy is secure.
Many people felt that Al Jolson was the greatest entertainer ever in his time. Jolson was a superstar before there were superstars. He electrified audiences with his live performances.
There is no doubt that Jolson inspired people like Sammy Davis, Jr. Like Jackson, Davis was a child star. Davis sang, danced, acted and became an accomplished impersonator as well. He conquered the stage, screen, television and the movies long, long before African Americans were accepted in such roles. And, of course he charted new paths for black entertainers. Sadly, Davis dies in relative obscurity and virtually broke. He did not receive the sendoff that Michael Jackson received.
One of the people who helped Davis gain a foothold was Frank Sinatra. For longevity alone Sinatra must be considered one of the greatest entertainers ever. The "Chairman of the Board" was an entertainment empire all to himself. He produced, directed, sang, danced, acted. Let's not forget that "Ole Blue Eyes won an Academy Award for his acting and that he starred in numerous movies.
Sinatra, Jolson, Chaplin, Davis -- they mostly created themselves.
Elvis Presley was largely created by Col. Tom Parker, his domineering manger. Parker molded an entertainment sensation - The King of Rock and Roll. Presley's career was well-managed but the control was stifling and many feel it held Elvis back. Certainly, Elvis starred in a string of forgettable flicks and he was tormented by the endless typecasting imposed on him by Parker.
Have we mentioned the great Noel Coward?
The Master, as he was known, was a playwrite, director, actor, writer, singer, comedian. There seemed to be nothing he could not do.
So many other great entertainers come to mind: Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minelli are two of the most sensational live performers ever to grace the stage. Liza eventually won the Oscar that her mother should have won. In fact, Liza achieved the rare distinction of winning the Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.
Those who saw Judy Garland in person never, ever forgot her. And she certainly dominated the movies as one of MGM's most popular stars ever.
Besides Liza, another to achieve the quadruple awards crown was Barbra Streisand. Stresand's talent (especially in her early recordings and performances) can only be described as dazzling.
She defined the word "superstar."
World's greatest entertainer?
Where do you begin?
Who would you pick?
I'm sure I left out more than a few greats.
We could argue over this for ages.
Just remember: This title should not be tossed about indiscriminately.


Anonymous said...

Michael Jackson was not just a historic entertainer, he was THE greatest entertainer (be it singer, actor,sportsman etc) in
modern/ recorded history.

When we discuss his impact and talent as an entertainer, we cannot taint it by talking about his personal life or eccentricities
And even in his personal life he did more for charities and children than any other artist
He contributed over 400 M dollars and several of his number 1 songs all have a message of making the world a better place
and caring for children.

1. Michael was far greater than previous legends like Elvis and Lennon because he was not just an AMERICAN STAR

He was famous and popular in MOST Of the countries of the world and especially the third world countries.
(Note: that third world has the majority of the worlds population)
Im in Pakistan which is a third world country, where even a street urchin knows who Michael Jackson is, he knows his dance, he knows his music

2. He was a Child star as well as an adult - so his talent was evident from a very early age- he did not just get lucky. He was the youngest singer to get a number 1 single in the US with "I want you back"

3. Michael revolutionarized Music videos and the art of dancing. His Scream video with Janet is the most expensive ever, and most of his music videos are all all time best sellers
Micheal was not just the greatest singer, but also the greatest Dancer and live performer and creater of best selling and most expensive MUSIC VIDEOS
and he often wrote his own music

4 His music paved the way for R and B , Hip Hop and soul music for the future

5 And he trancended color. Being black he still managed to get great acclaim in the US at a time when blacks were not even allowed to appear on MTV

6. Michael had to face and overcome several controversies and still managed to stay so popular
His love for children causes made him subject to accusations, he fought a horrible skin disease and was subject
to ridicule for eventual whitening of his skin and extensive wearing of make up.

7. HIs record of having the best selling album (thriller) of all time stands intact.

Elvis, and beatles may have more sales in the developed world ONLY BECAUSE THEY KEPT SELLING AFTER THEIR DEATH TILL DATE And they existed 20-40 years before Jackson so obviously they have more years of selling

Jackson had total of 18 no 1 US singles Solo and group - equivalent to that of presley and beatles

Jackson got the most music awards in history and received award for artist of millenium

Jackson is named the most succesful entertainer ever in Guiness Book of World records

Jackson made the most money at his peak and signed the biggest contract with Sony records in history

And finally he was still popular at his death

His ticket sales of over a million for his upcoming london concert were the fastest ticket sales for an event in history

Even after his death his albums hit No 1 in the UK and on most of the online sites

Web sites crashed under the burden of searches in relation to his name

All of this shows his greatness, far beyond any entertainer could achieve ever could claim in recorded history.

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UNCLE BILL said...

In his autobiography, Rolling Stone
Keith Richards laments of Mick Jagger, ..."isn't being the world's greatest entertainer good enough for you?" So, begs the question: Is Mick Jagger the World's Greatest Entertainer?

Anonymous said...

Michael Jackson is indeed the "World's Greatest Entertainer". No one comes close. He eclipsed Elvis but many just don't want to admit it because of all the personal issues that he had. But when we talk about global impact and massive talent - Michael Jackson buries them all.