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Originally Published: January 1975
Once, there was a boy named Alice Cooper who was known the world over as one of the funniest people of his time. As a rock singer, TV personality, and international celebrity, Alice made people laugh whatever he did. In fact, the mere mention of his name was enough to bring gales of laughter from any audience.
There was everything to envy and admire about Alice. From obscure origins, he had made himself a living legend, and a millionaire in the bargain. Whatever anyone could wish for, Alice had. And yet, if you looked closely at Alice, there seemed to be a certain sadness in his smile, and especially in his eyes there was a haunted and melancholy look that appeared from time to time. It wasn't always there, and even when it was you had to look rather closely at Alice to see it. It was easiest to spot late at night, when Alice would be surrounded by close friends, all laughing and joking. Then, just for a moment, the shadow would come across his eyes, and you could tell that Alice was not completely happy.
"I don't think Alice would ever admit to not being totally happy," said a close friend of his who has known him for many years: "You know, so many people depend on Alice to make them laugh, and they think that as long as Alice is happy, then everything is O.K. I think he feels some kind of obligation to always be up, and to prove that no matter what is going on, and no matter how bleak things may seem, that there is always something to smile about."
Why then, is Alice sad, if only sometimes? To find the answer to this question, it is necessary to delve deeply into the complex personality of this fabulous star.
From the time of his earliest childhood, Alice was always an extremely sensitive and intelligent boy. And he was considered funny-looking, what with his prominent nose that resembled the beak of a bird. Also, he was very skinny. Alice came in for his share of teasing about the way he looked, but instead of becom¬ing defensive and withdrawn about it, he decided to meet the teasing and taunts of his companions head-on, with charm and humor and the ability to make fun of himself.
And whatever he did, whether it was schoolwork or athletics or his rock band, Alice would try that much harder to do it well. He was never hostile or arrogant, and he became one of the most popular and respected kids in his school. Alice knew that looks weren't everything, and that a person could be judged on any basis he or she cared to choose. Alice chose to be judged on the basis of his sense of humor, his personality, and his intelligence. He was in no position to argue that he was a great beauty, so instead of letting the taunts of others bring him down, he just turned it all around to his own advantage.
Always struggling to be best, Alice acquired the drive and shrewdness which were to serve him well all his life. Soon, he even stopped wishing that he had been born better-looking, because he was so busy making the most of the gifts he had.
"Alice acquired a lot of wisdom at an early age," said his friend. "He realized that everyone is different, and everyone has some¬thing unique to offer. What is so amazing is that he was so quick to know what his strong points were, and that he never wasted any time worrying about what he didn't have. Many people go through their whole lives without learning as much about them¬selves as Alice did by the age of ten."
Now, you may wonder, how does this all account for that sadness behind Alice's eyes? If he did so well in making the most of his talents, then what does he have to be sad about? Well, to put it simply, Alice is sad because he knows so much. Yes, it's true - Alice is so wise and sensitive that he is saddened by anything that goes wrong in the entire world.
War, injustice, hatred, cruelty to animals - all these things af¬fect Alice very deeply. Though he tries to turn everything into a joke, he really cannot ignore the fact that terrible things happen, and that humans and animals suffer all the time. In his stage show, Alice even went so far as to make fun of killing and torture and execution, to the extent that many people who did not know any better thought that Alice himself was callous and cruel and heartless.
Such a judgment could not be farther from the truth. Because, as we now know, Alice is, in fact, terribly distressed by any cruelty. In doing his show, Alice was hoping to get rid of some of the bad feelings that exist in people by making light of them.
"We hope that by showing these things to people, that the people manage to get all these bad thoughts and feelings out of their systems," Alice once said. "We feel that an audience can rid itself of violent instincts by seeing violence portrayed in a humorous way. We never, ever, intended to encourage violence. Our first intention has always been to entertain, but we hope that the way we do it also has the effect of eliminating hostility and anger. I think that the kids always understood that, but that older people sometimes had trouble understanding what we were trying to do."
Alice continued, "All people have some negative feelings within them, and I always thought that we could help to ease these feelings by portraying them the way we do in our show. If I thought for one minute that what we did encouraged violence in any way, I would stop doing it at once."
So you see, Alice is really a very humane and caring person. He wants everyone to laugh and smile all the time, but knowing that this is not possible makes him sad. And when he seems to drift away from the general merry-making, it is because he is thinking of the unhappiness in the world, and he is trying – always - to think of some way to bring more joy into the life of every living thing.
(Originally published in 16 Magazine's January 1975 issue. Also includes a competition and fan package application - pictured at head of article.)