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Caricature published in( issue No.1277_Funon journal _ Damascus 1/9/2005)
Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958) is one of the most successful popular music singers of all time. He is also known as the King of Pop or the King of Videos.
Jackson's successful career has gained him legions of devoted fans, yet he has been dogged by media fascination with his changing physical appearance and, more recently, accusations of pedophilia. Due to what the media see as his eccentric behavior, he is sometimes derisively referred to as "Wacko Jacko".
Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. He was the seventh of nine children.
The Jackson children were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses and practiced door-to-door evangelizing. Jackson continued to do so after becoming famous, but in disguise. His career and flamboyant style led to friction with church elders. At one point, he was ordered to shun his sister LaToya because she had not been attending church meetings. In 1987, he formally left the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jackson has been living at his 11 sq. km (2600 acres, ) ranch in Santa Ynez, California, named "Neverland" after the magical kingdom featured in the children's story Peter Pan. In Dec 2003 he said that after the search, see below, it does not feel like a home anymore, and is now a house he just visits. Reportedly he now lives in Beverly Hills.
He says that, like Peter Pan, he does not want to grow up. Neverland contains a small zoo and amusement park. About once a week he has been inviting a bus full of (especially sick and poor) children there to have a day of fun. Jackson kept a chimpanzee, Bubbles, in Neverland, which he valued highly, treating him more like a friend than a pet. Bubbles was moved from the ranch after reaching maturity because adult chimpanzees are very strong and can be dangerous.
In 1994 Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley; the marriage lasted less than two years, ending in divorce. In 1996 he married Debbie Rowe. They had a son, Prince Michael, and a daughter, Paris. They were divorced in 1999. Rowe said that she let Jackson have the children as a "gift". Around February 2002 he had another son, Prince Michael II, also called "Blanket", with a surrogate mother whose identity has not been disclosed. As a security measure against kidnapping, Jackson's children only appear in public with masks or veils to cover their faces.
Jackson, a vegetarian, claims a strong connection to both children and animals. His favorite pastimes include water balloon fights with children, climbing trees and sleepovers with children. He has written several songs sitting in his favorite tree at Neverland, which he calls Giving Tree, because it is so inspiring. He has several young friends whom he has entertained at Neverland.
Jackson's celebrity friends include actress Elizabeth Taylor and former child actor Macaulay Culkin, who are godparents to Prince Michael and Paris. (See Macaulay Culkin for more information on their friendship). He is also friends with paranormalist Uri Geller and the rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who heads Jackson's Heal the World Foundation.
Jackson seems to have had several lots of plastic surgery to modify his appearance, although he denies having had any work done except one "nose job" to improve his singing voice.
Some critics have characterized his plastic surgery and skin bleaching as an attempt to hide his African-American ancestry. Jackson has indicated that he has his skin bleached to mask the effects of vitiligo, a disease that causes uneven pigmentation of the skin.
Jackson has received numerous music awards including 18 Grammys. Estimates of his album sales worldwide range from 200 million to well over 300 million. His Thriller video is considered by some to be the best music video of all time and the largest step forward in artistic quality in the history of music videos. MTV and Rolling Stone recently named four of his songs ("Billie Jean" #5, "I Want You Back" #9, "Beat It" #23 and "Rock with You" #82) among the 100 greatest pop songs of all time.