Michael Jackson turns 50 today and we at Entertainmentwise are celebrating this landmark by bringing you 50 facts you may or may not know about the King of Pop.
His crown may have slipped somewhat in recent years, but there’s still a lot of love for Jackson around the world.
Skin diseases, child molestation charges, baby dangling and cosmetic surgery aside, there’s a lot to celebrate about the man nicknamed Wacko Jacko.
So here’s a few facts, stats and figures about Jackson that may have passed you by:
1. Jackson’s Billie Jean was the first video by a black artist to air on MTV.
2. Jackson’s waxwork features in five Madame Tussauds museums across the world. Only Elvis Presley and Madonna have more Tussaud figures – they have six each.
3. Jackson’s total lifetime earnings from royalties, solo recordings and music videos, revenue from concerts and endorsements have been estimated at $500 million (#271 million).
4. Jackson has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for radio play, located at 1541 Vine Street, and one for recording at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard.
5. Jackson received a Presidential Humanitarian Award from Ronald Reagan in 1984 for his support of charities helping people overcome alcohol and drug abuse.
6. Michael Jackson is the seventh of nine children.
7. Jackson fought fellow 50 year old Madonna on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch – he lost.
8. Three of Jackson’s albums – Bad, Dangerous and Thriller – are among the bestsellers of all time.
9. Thriller remains the biggest-selling album since records began.
10. Jackson has sold more than 300 million records worldwide.
11. Jackson wears his trademark black armband to remind fans of the suffering of children around the world.
12. Jackson’s favourite superhero is Morph from the X-Men.
13.Jackson picked up his iconic moonwalk moves, which he debuted at the Motown 25th Anniversary show in 1983, from streetdancers he spotted performing outside a hotel.
14. MC Hammer once challenged Jackson to a dance-off. He was told to Beat It. Jackson reportedly responded, “I’ve seen your videos and every single dance move you use, you got off of me.”
15. Little Richard wanted Jackson to play him in a biopic.
16. Bubbles the chimp and Ben the rat are two of Jackson’s most famous pets, but he also befriended a ram called Mr Tibbs, a python called Crusher and Louie the llama.
17. An obsessed French Jackson superfan committed suicide in 1984 after his mother refused to allow him to undergo surgery to look like the star.
18. In 1984, a U.S. library accused Jackson of owing it over $1 million in overdue book fines. Officials said they would scrap the fines if he returned the books autographed.
19. Jackson dedicated his 1997 Blood On The Dancefloor album to Sir Elton John.
20. Jackson is a vegetarian.
21. Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Jackson 5 on May 6, 1997. He was inducted as a solo artist on March 19, 2001.
22. Jackson once dated Brooke Shields and Tatum O’Neal.
23. Jackson has several media nicknames. They include The Gloved One, Wacko Jacko, Jacko, The King of Pop, and MJ. Close friends call him Smelly!
24. Jackson’s music video for Thriller was voted the greatest music video of all time in a recent Channel 4 (UK) poll.
25. Jackson won an MTV Movie Award for Best Movie Song in 1994 for his song Will You Be There from the movie Free Willy.
26. The Scream music video Jackson made with sister Janet is the most expensive promo ever made, costing more than $7 million (#3.8 million).
27. Jackson’s double album HIStory is the biggest selling double album ever released in the U.S.
28. Jackson’s Blood on the Dance Floor is the biggest selling re-mix album of all time.
29. Jackson really is a King in West Africa – he was given a royal title by villagers in Gabon, Ivory Coast in 1992.
30. Jackson’s pre-concert ritual includes drinking Ricola candy dissolved in hot water. He claims the beverage helps to keep his throat and his singing voice clear.
31. Jackson owns the patent for a stage shoe device that allows performers to lean forward and appear to defy gravity.
32. Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana in 1958. The town is planning a tribute museum to the pop superstar.
33. Movie star Macauley Culkin is godfather to Jackson’s two eldest children, Paris and Prince Michael.
34. Culkin helped Jackson design the amusement park at his Neverland Valley Ranch home in California.
35. Lisa Marie Presley’s former brother-in-law and his wife were the witnesses at her Dominican Republic wedding to Jackson in 1994.
36. Jackson shares the record for the most Grammy Awards won in one year with Carlos Santana and Norah Jones – they each won eight.
37. Jackson co-wrote charity anthem We Are The World with Lionel Richie.
38. Jackson is godfather to Nicole Richie, Bee Gees star Barry Gibb’s son Michael, and Oliver star Mark Lester’s kids.
39. Jackson and brother Tito were best men at Liza Minnelli and David Gest’s wedding.
40. Jackson’s performance during the 1993 SuperBowl half-time show drew the largest TV audience in American history.
41. The directors of Jackson’s videos have included Martin Scorsese, John Singleton and John Landis.
42. In 1999 Jackson paid $1.5 (#810,000) for the 1939 Best Picture Oscar, which was presented to producer David O. Selznick for Gone With The Wind.
43. Jackson appeared on a postage stamp in the Virgin Islands in the mid-1980s after locals voted him the superstar they’d most like to honour.
44. An extensive 1997 survey declared Jackson was the Most Famous Person in the World.
45. Jackson helped plan neighbour Gregory Peck’s funeral.
46. Jackson once described close friend Elizabeth Taylor as “a warm cuddly blanket that I love to snuggle up to and cover myself with.”
47. Jackson provided a voiceover on The Simpsons – but it remained a secret for 12 years. He voiced a character in a mental institution in the Stark Raving Dad episode, which aired in 1991, but, because of a contractual problem, Jackson had to be credited as John Jay Smith. His contribution to the classic cartoon series remained a rumour among fans until The Simpsons creator Matt Groening confirmed it really was Jackson when the episode was released on DVD in 2003.
48. Jackson shares the same birthday as U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who turns 72 today. Other celebrities who share Jackson’s birthday include moviemakers Sir Richard Attenborough and William Friedkin, and actresses Rebecca DeMornay and Carla Gugino.
49. Jackson’s comeback plans have been scuppered by a new online poll – 71 per cent of 59,000 people voting on website PopEater.com answered `Not a chance’ to the question ‘Can the King of Pop make a comeback?’
50. Michael Jackson and the number 7 (courtesy of TMZ):
— Michael Jackson signed his will on 7/7/02.
— Michael Jackson’s memorial was on 7/7/09…exactly 7 years after the will was signed.
— Michael Jackson’s two biggest hits — “Black & White” and “Billie Jean” — were each #1 for 7 weeks.
— Michael Jackson’s three biggest albums — “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous” — each produced 7 top 40 hits.
— Michael Jackson was born in 1958 … 19 + 58 = 77
— Michael Jackson died on the 25th … 2 + 5 = 7
— Michael Jackson has 7 letters in his first and last name.