Back in the late 1960s, it seemed like every few weeks another rock star would drop dead. The big three — Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of the Doors — all died in their 20s from alcohol- and drug-related causes. Even bigger names like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe abused themselves into early deaths. Lately, Michael Jackson continued the tradition, although he made it to age 50.
I’ve always wondered whether, back in the Woodstock days, the folks who were applauding obviously intoxicated stars on stage ever thought about that connection when the musicians bit the dust. I mean, many concerts were simply drug- and alcohol-fueled free-for-alls, and it’s still that way today. As a young reporter, I remember being stationed in the medical tent at a Rolling Stones concert in 1979. Hundreds of young people were treated for gross intoxication.
Now we have a young actress named Lindsay Lohan who apparently is out of control. A former childhood star, her sad drama is being played out in the worldwide press. This week, a Los Angeles judge ordered Lohan to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet and submit to drug testing. This, because she was convicted of driving under the influence and possession of cocaine. Lohan is 23.
If you believe the celebrity press, Lohan has been used by a number of people for a long time. At age 11, she began to have success in a series of family films like ‘‘The Parent Trap’’ and, subsequently, ‘‘Freaky Friday.’’ Her parents profited from her movie fees even as the family dissolved during a nasty divorce action.
Lohan then went on to have a number of public affairs with both men and women, all the while looking lost and confused. But after age 18 in America, you are pretty much free to destroy yourself. Obviously, Judge Marsha Revel is trying to prevent that by holding the actress accountable for her substance intake, but there’s only so much the justice system can do.
So who will save Lindsay Lohan? If history is any indicator, the answer is no one. Elvis had a big entourage around him, and so did Michael Jackson. Both men perished with doctors actually assisting them.
Truthfully, the only person who can save Lohan is Lohan. Millions of American parents anguish over the sons and daughters who are caught in the vicious cycle of addiction. Therapy, rehab, interventions — all have little chance of success unless the addicted person uses their free will to fight their disease.
Chances are Lohan has been presented with that fact. And even though her life is on constant display, nobody really knows what the young woman truly wants. Some people want to die and slowly kill themselves. That is a brutal thing to watch. Some people finally wise up and save themselves. That redemption gives us hope.
We should all pray for this woman, Lindsay Lohan. Her clock is ticking.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show ‘‘The O’Reilly Factor.’’