Jheri Curl Fridays 16: “Dear Michael”

Written by Jheri Curl Fridays, Music

Kim Fields, who you probably know better as Tootie from “The Facts of Life,” scored a minor hit with 1984’s “Dear Michael,” dedicated to the King of Pop.

Every pop culture phenomenon gets at least one tribute song, right? I’m sure there were a ton of songs directly or indirectly dedicated to Elvis back in the Fifties. In the Sixties, a singer named Bonnie Jo Mason (who wound up being…Cher??) recorded “Ringo, I Love You” in response to Beatlemania. Of course, the pop culture phenomenon in the Eighties was Michael Jackson, and in 1984 at the peak of Michaelmania, TV star Kim Fields recorded her own tribute to the future King of Pop, “Dear Michael”.

Interestingly, “Dear Michael” was a remake of a song that was originally recorded by Jackson himself. Released on his 1975 album Forever, Michael, the song’s lyrics read as a letter from a lovelorn fan. In the original version, Michael sings as the recipient of the letter, while in Fields’ version, she’s the fan sending the letter to Michael. Interesting that a song like this was considered cute (and completely innocent) back in the day, while these days-particularly after the introduction of celebrity stalking laws and Eminem’s “Stan”-it comes off as ever-so slightly creepy.

Prior to recording her paean to Michael, Kim Fields was a teen idol herself. Since starring in a Mrs. Butterworth commercial as a wee lass, she had gone on to several acting roles, most famously as the precocious Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey on the NBC sitcom “The Facts of Life”. “Dear Michael” was released almost right in the middle of the show’s nine-year (!) run. During a period in time when everyone from Shaun Cassidy to Scott Baio made records, it wasn’t particularly odd that Fields decided to dabble in music. Although “Dear Michael” was only a minor hit, it didn’t dissuade Fields from a career in music, and in between a fairly successful run as an adult actress and director, she’s toured and recorded in genres ranging from jazz to spoken word.

No word on what Michael thought of Kim’s cover, although I’d have to imagine it was discussed at some point. In one of those weird moments of pop culture folding in on itself, Kim’s mom, Chip, was an actress as well. Her most famous role was a recurring stint on the hit series “Good Times”, in which she played the abusive birth mom to Penny Gordon, a character played by…Michael’s little sister, Janet. Did your head explode? Mine just did. At any rate, with that in mind, I’m pretty MJ gave the rhinestone-gloved seal of approval to Kim’s loving dedication.