George Michael’s death at the age of 53 cast an undeniable shadow over Christmas. An outpouring of sorrow began with the realization that 2016 claimed yet another star, whose iconic status stretched from jam-packed arenas back to roller-rink memories for children of the 1980s. Michael left behind a pop music career that spanned over three decades, but in the harsh daylight after the news hit, another lasting legacy is emerging.
Across the Internet, one can now read about Michael’s incredible acts of generosity, which he cloaked in the utmost secrecy while he was alive. Folks are growing weepy while witnessing these revelations, even while understanding the “mythologising” that takes place at times like these.
Although Michael kept things quiet, some public documentation — including the BBC’s banning of a joint single (with Annie Lennox, Sting, and Bono) to benefit Palestine — was unavoidable. The UK papers are also filling with details of Michael’s covert charitable acts, including high praise from Childline Founder Dame Esther Rantzen:
“For years now he has been the most extraordinarily generous philanthropist, giving money to Childline, but he was determined not to make his generosity public so no-one outside the charity knew how much he gave to the nation’s most vulnerable children … Over the years he gave us millions … And it is particularly tragic that Christmas, which was when he released ‘Jesus to a Child,’ would also be the time when we lost him.”
People are now tweeting incredible memories of his dedication to causes, which included incognito work at a homeless shelter and one charity that was kept afloat by Michael alone. He’d anonymously phone game shows to donate money to contestants in need and drop significant sums to strangers in cafes.
And as The Guardian‘s Sali Hughes points out, Michael was the only celebrity who uttered a certain statement while appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? While gambling a charity’s cash — he declared, “If I lose it, I’ll just pay it.” Watch the clip below.