Michael Jackson, an American singer-songwriter, entertainer, dancer, arranger, music producer, choreographer, actor, businessman, musician and philanthropist, was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. His family’s home was the only one on their block in Gary, Ind., that was not decorated for Christmas. When he was a youngster, he told his brother, Jermaine, that when he was older, he was going to have lights every day.
This was one of several personal stories that Susan Brown told from Jermaine Jackson’s book, “You Are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes,” about his brother during her presentation at the recent meeting of the Mathontes Club held at the Pine Bluff Country Club. The program, “1980’s Michael Jackson,” was the final in the club’s study of “Rock Your Decade.”
Michael Jackson was born on Aug. 9 1958, and the family lived at 2300 Jackson St., in Gary. The two-bedroom home housed two parents and nine children. Their mother was employed by Sears and their father was a mill crane operator and musician.
The Jacksons won a talent contest at the Appollo Theatre in New York, where they were seen by Gladys Knight, who contacted Barry Gordy, the Motown mogul, who was not ready, he said, for a “kids group.” However, after they spent a year on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” in the South, Gordy auditioned them and they became the Jackson 5 – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The Supremes introduced them as “their little surprise.”
They moved to California. As their popularity increased, security became a problem. As Michael grew older, his voice changed, but it still remained high. His brothers getting married and encouragement from Diana Ross caused him to go solo. At 26 , he was still living at home. He is one of the few who made the successful transition from child to adult star.
He wore a white glove to draw attention to his movements. His pants legs stopped short of the tops of his white socks to draw attention to the movement of his feet. The Jehovah’s Witnesses had two representatives watching his performances to make sure there was nothing inappropriate.
There has been much speculation about the change in the color of his skin through the years. He had a condition called vitiligo with pale patches without pigmentation. He also had lupus, which caused red splotches on his cheeks and neck, which required extensive makeup to hide.
Neverland became his escape from reality. It was a theme park with a theater equipped with accommodations for sick children. And although he gave millions to charity, opening Neverland to children brought him bad press and molestation charges because of his relationship with a 13-year-old boy. The civil suit brought about a $15 million settlement with the child’s parents.
Michael Jackson had three children.
He died in 2009 at the age of 50.
To introduce the program, dressed in a Jackson-esque costume, complete with white sequin-studded glove, Brown and Trudy Pascale, dressed as a zombie, presented a dance to Jackson’s “Thriller.” Harra Windsor also appeared on the scene, dressed as a zombie from the same video.
The focal point of each centerpiece on the tables for eight was a silver mannequin wearing a fedora and sunglasses, set atop a large silver star and a nest of silver mesh fabric, flanked by a silver microphone, white sequin- studded glove and rose petals scattered about the table top. A life-sized cutout of Michael Jackson and other memorabilia were used throughout the room. Each guest’s place was marked with a sugar cookie in the shape of a glove with white icing and edible glitter.
The hostesses were Pascale, Rebecca Phillips, Sharon Wyatt, Debe Hollingsworth and Sue Trulock.