12. Jackson Hated The Press’ Nickname of “Wacko Jacko”
While Jackson peacefully allowed the media to spread countless rumors about him, their moniker of “Wacko Jacko,” given due to his reportedly childish behavior and strange antics profoundly bothered him. He made no effort to deny patently false and strange stories, like that of attempting to purchase Joseph Merrick’s skeleton, but being called crazy by the same people who published falsehoods was deeply offensive to him.
11. Jackson Was The First Westerner To Appear In an Ad on USSR Television
1984’s Pepsi commercial wasn’t famous only for severely burning its star. It also became the first Pepsi ad to broadcast in the communist USSR on purchased airtime. Only one had aired earlier, free of charge, during the Goodwill Games in 1986. Michael Jackson also became the first western star to appear in an advertisement in the Soviet Union. His lyrics were allowed to be aired in English with no Russian dubbing or Cyrillic alphabet subtitles.
10. Elizabeth Taylor Popularized Jackson’s Moniker of “King of Pop”
Elizabeth Taylor, a personal friend of Jackson, presented him with the Soul Train Heritage Award in 1989, saying that he was “the true king of pop, rock and soul.” Taylor’s famous quip quickly popularized the name “King of Pop” for Jackson, which persisted throughout the rest of his career. Taylor would later go on to hold her eighth and final wedding, to Larry Fortensky, at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
9. Jackson Began Building the Infamous Neverland Ranch in 1988
Michael Jackson built Neverland ranch to create the childhood he never had, going so far as to name the home after the mythical realm in Peter Pan where children never grow up. Jackson had several amusement-park rides installed at the ranch alongside a working railroad and petting zoo. The home became sullied for Jackson after the numerous accusations of child molestation arose from visitors to the property. He never lived there again after infamous 1993 trial.
8. Jackson Married Elvis Presley’s Only Child, Lisa Marie, in 1994
The year 1993 was a difficult time for Michael Jackson. It was the height of the first round of sexual assault and child molestation charges against him. Throughout this period he relied on his friend Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, for support. In 1994, the two wed. Many in the media claimed that the marriage was a sham to try to improve Jackson’s public image. They amicably divorced two years later.
7. Jackson’s Father, Joe, Was Physically and Emotionally Abusive
Often described as one of Hollywood’s cruelest fathers, Joe Jackson was incredibly physically and emotionally abusive towards his children. Focused on their success at any cost, Joe would beat his children with belts for mistakes and often mocked them. His daughter, La Toya, even claimed that her father sexually abused her as a child. In her later years, she retracted these claims and blamed them on an abusive husband.
6. Joe Jackson Ridiculed Michael For His “Fat Nose” As a Child, Leading to Michael’s Obsession With His Appearance
In addition to beating his children, Joe Jackson also mocked and berated his children to ensure their hard work and compliance. For Michael, this often took the form of his father mocking his “fat nose,” a particularly brutal insult given the history of racial prejudice towards African American facial features, including noses. Michael said in interviews that this mockery led to a lifelong dissatisfaction with his appearance.
Michael was far from the only person to level physical abuse charges against his father, Joe. One witness saw Joe push a young Michael so that he tripped into a drum set. The man reported that Michael was pretty banged up from the fall. Others saw Joe take a belt to the young boy to enforce perfect rehearsals. It appears that Joe’s behavior was a rather open secret in the music industry, with many being aware of his disciplinary tactics.
4. Michael Was So Afraid of His Father He Would Often Vomit or Faint When Forced to Be Near Him
Michael seemed to receive the brunt of his father’s disciplinary abuse. He was both the youngest member of the Jackson 5 and its breakout star, so his performances had to be perfect. Witnesses reported that Joe beat Michael and sometimes even tripped him to cause him to fall into instruments or off stages. Michael was reportedly so terrified of his father he would vomit and faint in his presence. He also had nightmares throughout his life.
Both of Michael Jackson’s parents later revealed the physical abuse of their sons. While some of Michael’s brothers claimed their parents only disciplined them, not abused, Michael consistently called his father abusive. Katherine Jackson admitted to whipping but argued that it was an acceptable punishment in the era in which they raised their children. Joe also confirmed the beatings but, like his wife, denied they were abusive but rather discipline.
2. Joe Would Watch His Children Rehearse With a Belt In Hand, and Beat Them for Any Mistakes, Especially Michael As the Star of the Family
Numerous accounts from bystanders and witnesses have confirmed that Joe Jackson was a brutal perfectionist towards his children. Michael reminisced about times his father would watch them rehearse for hours on end, sitting in a chair with a belt ready. If any mistakes were made, especially by the young star Michael, their father would launch into punishment with the belt. One cannot even imagine the stress of having to rehearse cheerful music under the threat of painful punishment endlessly.
1. Jackson Claimed He Had No Childhood, Only Work, Which Led to His Lifelong Focus on Children and Childhood
When Jackson spoke of his childhood, it was often regarding the extreme loneliness he felt due to having no companions his own age other than his brothers. Jackson worked nonstop from an extremely young age and wasn’t able to enjoy any of the ordinary experiences typical of American childhood. This lack led Jackson to have a fixation on youth and happy childhoods, which drove him to build Neverland ranch and start his Heal the World Foundation.
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