10 Things You Didn’t Know About Michael Jackson
Today, Aug. 29, 2011, would've marked the 53rd birthday of Michael Jackson. When the shocking news broke that the King of Pop had died, fans all over the world mourned him, but they also celebrated his life and career. Now, two years after the tragic and sad death of MJ, PopCrush is also celebrating his life and career with 10 Things You Didn't Know about Michael Jackson -- ranging from facts about his life and his music, to strange oddities and quirks that the eccentric singer possessed. Although he had a lot of personal demons and some very dark days, Jackson's message of love and incomparable contributions to music all over the world will live on forever. Happy birthday to the late King of Pop! Ah hee-hee!
MJ's dad, Joseph Jackson, was a very hard disciplinarian, often using violence to teach his kids lessons. Joe Jackson once said, "There's nothing wrong with punishment as long as you know how to punish." This punishment often entailed Joe beating his kids, who were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses, on the back with a stick or a belt. He is also said to have locked Michael in closets as a child, and once sneaked into Michael's window wearing a frightening mask in order to teach his kids a lesson about burglars.
In 1993, Jackson made history by actually increasing ratings for the Super Bowl (which matched Dallas versus Buffalo) thanks to his high-energy Halftime Show. Roughly 90 to 100 million viewers saw MJ cut a rug and sing his heart out at the 1993 Super Bowl. He performed a three-song medley, tantalizing onlookers with his live performances of his hits ('Jam,' 'Billie Jean' and 'Black or White'). Watch the electrifying show by clicking here.
Sega released a video called 'Michael Jackson's Moonwalker' in 1990 after teaming up with the pop star. The story line of the game, which was inspired by the MJ film of the same name, involved Michael Jackson in his 'Smooth Criminal' garb roaming the city to try and save kids from the wrath of the evil Mr. Big -- watch a commercial for the game here. In addition to 'Moonwalker,' MJ also appeared in games like 'Space Channel 5' and 'Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2,' which also featured Shaq.
On top of this, Michael Jackson was awarded this honor by Ronald Reagan, whose presidency has become synonymous with a battle against drug use and trafficking. In 1984, Reagan awarded the King of Pop with the Presidential Humanitarian Award for his philanthropical efforts to assist those affected by drug and alcohol abuse. Twenty-five years later, MJ died from a drug overdose and was later revealed to have struggled with addiction for a good portion of his life.
Michael Jackson is the godfather to Lionel Richie's daughter Nicole Richie, who made a name for herself as a reality television star, fashion icon and former Hollywood party girl. Michael and Lionel were good friends, and co-penned 'We Are the World' together. In addition to Nicole Richie, MJ is also the godfather to Barry Gibb’s (of the Bee Gees) son Michael. Another fun fact: Macaulay Culkin of 'Home Alone' child stardom is the godfather to Michael's two eldest children.
In 1983, Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' video became the first video by a black artist to air on MTV. The TV network originally launched in 1981, and it has been said that videos like 'Billie Jean' had a heavy hand in bringing the network into the mainstream. Fun fact: The first video to ever broadcast on MTV was 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by the Buggles -- the second was Pat Benatar's 'You Better Run.'
While speaking to Interview Magazine, Jackson once said, "I think that’s neat, especially when you totally forget. If you totally forget, which I love to do, that’s when it’s magic," about acting in films and music videos. Jackson continued, "I always hated the word acting -- to say, “I’m an actor.” It should be more than that. It should be more like a believer … That’s what I really love about it. I just like to really forget."
Bubbles the Chimp was one of MJ's most famous pets -- Jackson often took the chimpanzee out in public with him, including to video sets and interviews, and it was even said that Jackson taught the chimp to moonwalk. In addition to Bubbles, who often dressed like Michael and even accompanied the singer on his 1987 Bad world tour, Jackson also had a ram named Mr. Tibbs, a python named Crusher, and a boa constrictor called Muscles. FYI: Bubbles is now living in a Florida primate sanctuary, according to People.
In 1991, Jackson voiced the character of Leon Kompowsky for the episode 'Stark Raving Dad.' Homer meets Leon in a mental institution, where Leon is voluntarily committed -- probably because he likes to pretend to be Michael Jackson, since talking in the pop star's voice made him and other people happy. Even though it was always rumored it was actually the King of Pop singing and speaking in the episode, it wasn't revealed until 2003 that MJ did the speaking voice for Leon, but he had vocalist Kipp Lennon record Leon's MJ-inspired vocals.
Well, in West Africa at least. In 1992, a tribe located in Gabon in the rainforests of the Ivory Coast gave Michael Jackson the royal title of Prince Michael Jackson Amalaman Anoh. According to Telegraph, Jackson "toured the village of Krindjabo in 1992, where chiefs reportedly revealed that DNA tests and mystic messages confirmed that the singer was descended from the royal Sanwi line." A hunt for a new prince occurred after Jackson's death in 2009, but we have to say that those are some seriously tough shoes to fill.