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The Late Jackie Wilson to Finally Receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

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The Presentation of a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and release of a 50-song compilation album, “The Definitive Jackie Wilson,” coincides with the bereavement of Jackie Wilson’s Widow Harlean Harris Wilson

Nationwide — Harlean Harris Wilson, 81, was scheduled to make the acceptance speech at the presentation of a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her late husband, the legendary Detroit-born singer Jackie Wilson, September 4, 2019 in Hollywood. However, she passed away unexpectedly this past Saturday and in her place their son John Wilson will accepted the award for his father.

peakers and guests set for the ceremony include Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Marshall Thompson of the Chi-Lites, and Jackie’s Goddaughter Jody Watley will be among those attending.

“Though we are deeply saddened that Harlean will not be with us physically to accept Jackie’s star on September 4th, we are certain that she will be there with Jackie in spirit. Harlean Wilson was a beautiful woman inside and out who lived her life with tremendous grace and dignity and was loved by us all,” said Paul Tarnopol of Brunswick Records.

Prior to her unfortunate death, Harlean was involved with a forthcoming authorized biography and a documentary film about Wilson, a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame Inductee, a winner of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s special Legacy Tribute Award and Roll Hall of Fame recipient. She was very excited about the release of a 50-track compilation of remastered hits, The Definitive Jackie Wilson, available on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and all other major digital platforms.

Less than two weeks ago, esteemed music journalist Jeff Tamarkin spoke with Harlean about her life, the forthcoming projects and Jackie Wilson’s legacy. Following is her story:
More than 35 years after his death, Jackie Wilson—one of the greatest soul singers of all-time and a second-year inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—is getting some overdue recognition, and no one could be more pleased about that than his widow, Harlean Wilson. On September 4, 2019, Jackie—known in the music business as “Mr. Excitement”—will be recognized with a star on Hollywood’s fabled Walk of Fame. For Harlean, the honor is the culmination of decades of tireless work keeping the late entertainer’s name in front of the public—and protecting both his legacy and her own.

“I’m so elated for him, so ecstatic about my husband getting this star,” says Harlean. “That title Mr. Excitement wasn’t just given to him; he worked for it.”

Harlean Harris—her maiden name—was only a teenager in the early 1950s when she first came across the name Jackie Wilson. Born in White Plains, New York, in 1937, she had been serving as the president of the Billy Ward and the Dominoes Fan Club when the rhythm and blues vocal group announced that its lead singer, Clyde McPhatter, was leaving to join the Drifters. Harlean, along with many other fans, was upset by the news that a young unknown named Jackie Wilson would be taking his place.

Then Harlean went to Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater, where she heard Jackie sing. “I had never heard a black entertainer sing on Jackie’s level, at all,” she says. “Nobody had.” At first she remained solely a fan but then one day she received a call from Jackie, who had seen her picture on the cover of Ebony magazine—Harlean was modeling at the time—and remembered her from the fan club. Jackie and Harlean (who had previously dated Sam Cooke and Sammy Davis Jr.) became a couple and several years later, in May 1967, they were married.

By that time Jackie Wilson had long ago launched a solo career and logged hit after hit, both uptempo numbers and ballads, including such timeless smashes as “Lonely Teardrops,” “That’s Why I Love You So,” “Night” and “Baby Workout.” Just months after the wedding, he scored his final Top 10 single, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” In a business that chewed up artists and spit them out, Jackie Wilson’s popularity never flagged—onstage he was a virtual dynamo, as charismatic a performer as any, while in the studio he was capable, says Harlean, of “singing anything.”

Jackie, she adds, owed much of his commercial success in the music business to his dedicated producer at Brunswick Records, Nat Tarnopol, who was also the head of the label and had originally brought Jackie to New York from their shared native city of Detroit. Unlike many other African-American entertainers of the day, Wilson was treated fairly by Brunswick and Tarnopol, says Harlean, but outside of the confines of the company, that wasn’t always so: The singer and his wife were often subjected to painful, vicious rumors and untruths, legal entanglements and other indignities, including women who claimed to be linked with Jackie romantically and, later, both men and women claiming to be his children. One crazy, completely fabricated story that persisted for some time had Jackie being held outside of an upper story of a building upside down by thugs until he agreed to sign a contract.

Reality did hit them hard one evening in 1961 though, when the couple experienced a horrific close call: Jackie had been shot by a woman who was reportedly jealous of his relationship with Harlean. “Jackie had stepped outside of our apartment to get the mail and I heard what sounded like two firecrackers going off,” says Harlean. She went to investigate the noise, and found Jackie grimacing and screaming, “She shot me,” while a woman stood nearby claiming she hadn’t meant to do so. Jackie summoned enough strength to hobble outside the building, where a patrol car happened to be passing by. But rather than take the victim to a hospital, the officers chased down the shooter inside the apartment building. Fortunately, Jackie’s injuries were not fatal, but it took more than a year before he felt ready to resume his career.

Rumors aside, Jackie and Harlean did produce one child together, a son they named John, known as Petie throughout his life. The young boy’s world was shattered irrevocably when, on September 29, 1975, Jackie Wilson suffered a massive heart attack while performing at a nightclub in New Jersey. Jackie, in a coma, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where Harlean (then separated from him) and Petie were denied visitation until they were able to produce paperwork proving that they were his legitimate family.

Jackie Wilson never fully regained his ability to function; he remained in the care of others, his career cut short unexpectedly and permanently. Harlean became his caretaker, simultaneously entering into a never-ending series of legal situations that would linger long past the death of Jackie Wilson on January 21, 1984, nearly a decade after he collapsed onstage. “I was the administrator of the estate because I was his court-appointed guardian,” says Harlean, “and everybody wanted to take the estate from me, with all kinds of excuses. Everybody came out of the woodwork. The whole matter went into federal court when it first happened and it’s still going on. Jackie wasn’t a businessman.”

Despite all of the hardships she has been through, Harlean Wilson retains nothing but admiration for the man she met more than six decades ago. While she is the first to admit that there were difficulties in their marriage—“I have eyes, I could see what was going on,” Harlean says—she remembers Jackie as a man who was “very vibrant, very effervescent, generous to a fault. He loved to sing and he loved life.”

Harlean Wilson has spent a lifetime doing her best to make sure that the world remembers and knows the truth about Jackie Wilson. Now, finally, with the unveiling of his Hollywood star and other high-profile projects soon to be announced, she will have accomplished her goal.

More information at www.JackieWilsonMusic.com

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Tough Love: Los Angeles

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CLEO TV’s new series TOUGH LOVE: LOS ANGELES sheds light on the mental health impacts of heartache and grief in the next episode airing Sunday, January 17, at 9 P.M. ET/8C. The 10-episode prime-time series spinoff is based on the Emmy-nominated web series TOUGH LOVE, which takes a raw and vulnerable look at the very real challenges of losing a loved one and enduring a breakup.  

The crew begins to unravel as this week’s episode addresses themes of self-harm and grief. Having a very difficult time processing her brother’s death, Mya begins to self-medicate. Responding to an apparent plea for help, Rashad urges Story to check on Mya after he receives a cryptic text message. After breaking down the door, they find Mya nearly passed out and attempt to resuscitate her. Story continues to catfish Raymond until he gets fed up with her excuses and decides to cut her off. Brian and Denise continue to butt heads as she doesn’t understand why Brian refuses to use a portion of his investment money on their impending wedding plans.

Created by Caleb and Roni Davis, TOUGH LOVE was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2017 for Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series. The series is produced by Creative Direction Group. Dexter Cole is Senior Vice President of Program Scheduling and Acquisitions for TV One. For more information about CLEO TV visit www.mycleo.tv and check out CLEO TV YouTube Channel. Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on TwitterInstagramPinterest and Facebook (@mycleotv) using the hashtag #TOUGHLOVELA and #CLEOTV

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The Imagination Engineer

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According to Penguin Random House, famed New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey died Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 in Los Angeles. Some of his noted works include “Sister Sister,” “Sleeping With Strangers,” and “Walking With Enemies.” Dickey was 59.

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New Soul Kitchen

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NEW SOUL KITCHEN’S SERVES UP SEASON FINALE DOUBLE-HEADER WITH STEAKHOUSE CLASSICS AND PRESSURE COOKED EATS ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26 AT 9 P.M. ET/8C

New Soul Kitchen Remix Premieres January 9 at 9 P.M. ET/8C

Chef Resha and Chef Bren Herrera pack a savory punch in the kitchen alongside Restaurateur, Entrepreneur and Host Chef Jernard Wells as they prepare a flavor-packed meal and must-haves on the season finale double header of NEW SOUL KITCHEN airing at Saturday, December 26 at 9 P.M. ET/8C and 9:30 P.M./8:30C. The chefs hearty homemade spins on these classic dishes are the perfect solution for restaurant cravings during the winter.

Chef Resha turns up the heat on a decadent Seared Garlic and Butter Steak, pairing the juicy dish with Roasted Sweet Potatoes topped with Savory Cider Caramel. Chef Jernard doubles-down on the flavorful seasonings, preparing Rosemary and Mint Lamb Chops and a side of Maple and Balsamic Brussel Sprouts. The second episode brings Chef Bren‘s deliciously Braised Peppered Oxtail to the table, complemented by Chef Jernard’s Pineapple Jerk Chicken. Tune in to catch these acclaimed chefs who make preparing professional-quality meals at home look like a breeze.  NEW SOUL KITCHEN is produced by Powerhouse Productions, with Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead serving as Executive Producers. For CLEO TV, Susan Henry and Gold Morgan serve as Executives in Charge of Production; Donyell Kennedy-McCullough is Senior Director of Talent & Casting; and Robyn Greene Arrington is Vice President of Original Programming and Production.
For more information about CLEO TV visit www.mycleo.tv and check out CLEO TV YouTube Channel. Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on TwitterInstagramPinterest and Facebook (@mycleotv) using the hashtag #NEWSOULKITCHEN and #CLEOTV

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