This episode photo of Michael Jackson, taken at 19, in 1980 before he became the “King of Pop.” The adorable teen idol, who grew up before our eyes as a member of the Jackson 5, would continue to be embedded in pop culture history throughout his life.
Born in Gary, Indiana, he began performing with his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon as “The Jackson 5”.
When Motown got wind of the brothers they were signed to a recording contract where they popped out four number one singles in a row including “I Want You Back” (1969) ,” ABC “(1970) , “The Love You Save “(1970), and ” I’ll be There “(1970) But it was young Michael who emerged as the headliner of the group.
Rolling Stone magazine called the child performer “a prodigy.” It was at this early stage that Michael began taking on the songwriting duties for the group. He began a solo career in 1971 but in the 1980s had reunited and toured again with his brothers. in 1982, he recorded the album “Thriller.”
To this day, it is the best selling album of all time! His performance in 1983 for “Motown 26: Yesterday, Today, Forever ” garnered 47 million viewers and is rated up there with “The Beatles” U.S. debut on Ed Sullivan. Music producer Barry Gordy said of it, “From the first beat of ‘Billie Jean,” I was mesmerized.”
It was after Michael introduce his famous Moonwalk choreography that “Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down, ” Gordy said. Not satisfied with his already great looking appearance, Michael’s face changed along with his career. His skin tone became paler. He attributed it to a skin condition called vitiligo. Others claimed he was bleaching his skin to appear whiter. The metamorphosis of his face resulted in him looking like a pixieish character. Michael only admitted to two rhinoplasties and a dimple which was created in his chin. His strange lifestyle earned him such titles as “Wacko Jacko.”
He seemed to play with the press when he carried around his pet chimp Bubbles, offered photos of himself sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to the tabloids and went on a date with both Brooke Shields and little actor Emmanuel Lewis. Michael’s personal life made front page news when The King of Pop married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Presley. ‘Yes, I started falling for him,’ she explained. ‘I wanted to help him, and I felt that I could.’ As he fell further into drug addiction, she stood by him.
One night, during one of their phone calls, he wanted to know how she would respond if he asked her to marry him. Without hesitation, she replied:”I would do it.” The marriage would last less than 2 years. Yearning for children, he moved on to a nurse from his dermatologist’s office. Debbie Rowe provided him with two children-Prince Michael Jackson and Paris Jackson. After their quick divorce, she turned the kids over to him as planned.
It is still up in the air as to whether Michael fathered the kids. Rumors are that that distinction belonged to Dr. Arnold Klein, his dermatologist. Michael appeared with a third child (parentage unknown) which he nicked named “Blanket.” Blanket’s legal name is Prince Michael Jackson II.
There was backlash after a famous scene where he laughed and dangled Blanket over a hotel balcony while everyone below looked in horror. Important to mention is the charitable Michael who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 and 2003. In 2000, he was included in the Guinness Book of Records as a pop star who supported the biggest number of charity organizations (39 at the time). A 1988 autobiography spoke of his lost childhood and physical abuse at the hands of his father, Joe.
Jackson’s questionable attraction to children and his purchase of “Neverland” ranch where he would entertain them took on an ugly tone. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse but it was settled out of court. In 2005, he had a trial for similar charges but was tried and acquitted of more sexual abuse allegations.
Viewers were glued to the TV watching the strange comings and goings including Jackson showing up in pajamas and his “umbrella man” assistant escorting him to the courthouse. The jury found him “not guilty” on all charges.
Ready for a comeback, Jackson prepared for his final “This is It” tour. But “This is it” would turn out to be really it for him. On June 25, 2009, before making even one stop on tour, he died after suffering cardiac arrest.
The coroner said he had acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication. His personal physician, Conrad Murray, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death. Michael Jackson’s longevity continues to this day. Forbes magazine ranked him the top-earning deceased celebrity for 2017.