Grooming or a Generous and Lonely Soul?

The prosecution and a part of the media often used the loaded term “grooming” while describing Michael Jackson’s friendship with children, specifically young boys, and their families. This narrative was further pushed in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” where every kind gesture, every fax, phone call and gift was characterized as “grooming” by Jackson.

Grooming in this context is meant as “the act of attempting to gain the trust of a minor with the intention of having a sexual relationship with him or her” [1].

Jackson often befriended various families and bought their children and/or the parents gifts, but that this was done with the intention of sexually abusing the children is not a fact, but once again, an unproven allegation.

As always, it is important to put things into a context. The context is that Jackson was an extremely generous man, and that was the case since his childhood. He did not regularly give gifts only to young boys, nor only to children and/or their parents, but also to adult friends and even complete strangers. The prosecution and the accusers later tried to use his generosity against him and tried to turn it into something heinous, but their claims should not be taken as a fact, but as just an allegation.

The reality is that Jackson was generous with everyone: male or female, young or old, friends or strangers. The overwhelming majority of the young people whom he befriended defended him from the allegations and said that they had never seen or experienced any nefarious intention by the entertainer.

There are many documented cases of Jackson’s generosity and in this chapter I will give you a by far not exhaustive list of examples to show that his generosity was not at all limited to his treatment of young boys, but he behaved like that with everyone he considered a friend or even complete strangers.

Generous as a child

Both of Michael Jackson’s parents remember him as very generous and giving from an early childhood. His father Joseph Jackson said in 2009: “He wasn’t ever really interested in money. I’d give him his share of a night’s earnings and the next day he’d buy ice cream or candy for all the kids in neighbourhood.” [2]

In a 1990 book entitled My Family, The Jacksons, written by Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson and Richard Wiseman we read:

“I asked that question regarding some of Michael’s other personality traits as he was growing up. There was the matter, for example, of his generosity. Occasionally it went too far.

One day when Michael was in the second grade I couldn’t locate a piece of my jewelry. “What happened to my bracelet?” I finally asked the kids.

Michael looked up and replied nonchalantly, “Oh, I gave it to my teacher.”

I didn’t punish him because I thought it was nice for him to want to give. But I didn’t instruct him: “Don’t do it again.” But Michael didn’t listen, and more of my jewelry disappeared.” [3]

Female children

Laura Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin

“Michael Jackson came three times to the mansion, he was like a child” “I was about 12 years old when Michael Jackson came to the mansion. Subsequently, he called me almost every day to chat. He sent me incredible birthday gifts. Huge cartons. I went up on stage with him in Geneva. He was a great friend of the family. ” During his first visit, MJ had landed by helicopter in the garden of the domain. “I was pretty impressed,” said Laura. The King of Pop, too, but the big dogs. “We had nine dogs and he was afraid. We had to lock them up before it happens. “At the time of eating, seeing the big table, Jackson sat down with the children. “He was very shy. He was doing pirouettes in the garden. We played the PlayStation. He was a great kid. “Smile”, composed by my grandfather was one of his favorite tracks “ [4]

The Taiwanese Ma Twins

Jackson and the Ma family when they first met

“A Taiwanese fan Mrs. Ma Qi Zhen not only met Michael with her family, but also she became a close friends of Michael for many years. Mrs Ma had always kept a low profile about their 17 years family friendship with Michael Jackson. It was until Michael’s sudden passing last June, did Mrs. Ma have spoken out for the first time about this in the media about her friendship with the King of Pop. She pays tribute on how kind, loving and approachable the King of Pop was. She shared her memories of an extraordinary friend and how she felt that Michael was misunderstood by many.

It was a fax message that leads to the friendship between Michael and the Ma Family. During the Dangerous Tour in Taiwan in Sept 1993, Mrs Ma and her husband had trouble of getting tickets for their nine month old twin daughters for the concert, as ticket will not be allowed to be sold to their 9 month old babies for safety concern. Ma wouldn’t settle for it, as it was going to be the last day of Michael’s concert in Taiwan. She decided to give it a try and send a fax message to the hotel that Michael was staying in. She directly address the fax message to ask him asking him to allow her twins to go to the concert. She didn’t really expect that Michael would see it, next thing she knew was that Michael did read it and responded to it. He immediately sent down VIP passes for the family to be able to come to the concert and to meet him personally in his hotel room after the concert.

When the family arrived at his Presidential Suite, Michael was already in his pajamas, ready to go to bed. They find the superstar very kind and approachable, Ma recalled that he was so fascinated by the twins, he wanted to know everything about bringing up babies. The twin babies were crawling around in his room, at one point, one of the twins grabbed his CD player and started to bite it, Michael immediately went to pick up the baby and softly he said to her “Don’t bite it, it’ll hurt you.” Ma recalled that Michael was not yet a parent during that time but was very protective of children.

When they said goodbye, Michael personally escorted them off to the elevator and promised to invite them to come and visit him when he returned to America in his home Neverland. Ma family never took his words seriously, but Michael meant it! During the 17 years friendship Michael had with the Ma Family, the family had been able to visit 6 times as guests at his Neverland home, and even travels with him to other parts of world. Every time they said goodbye, he would cuddle them with words like “I’ll always love you”. He would seemed just simply wanted to be loved. Michael adored the twins, when he returned to Taiwan for the History tour in 1996, he invited the twins for an appearance to ” Heal the world ” Song with him on stage. He even invited the family to follow History tour with him. The twins was also featured in “Heal the world” in Durban, South Africa and it was said to be his last concert ever.

Michael had confided to Mrs. Ma things like his iconic sequins glove, was first used to hide his skin problem vitiligo that first appeared on his hand, and the glove had surprisingly become his signature trademark. Michael even referred himself as Chinese, as according to Michael, his mother Katherine was of a quarter Chinese descent. Michael did often expressed his strong desire to perform in China.

According to the the Taiwanese concert organizer Mr. Yu, during both his Dangerous and History Tour in Taiwan in the 90’s, Michael asked for his help to perform in China, though Yu did his best, During that time China was not yet ready to open up to Western pop performers.

Ma had seen the very sincere side of Michael, pure and innocent, like a big kid, love surprises, magic, very compassionate, very trusting and very caring. She hoped that by sharing her story, the world would know the true nature of Michael. The world not only loose a musical genius but a beautiful soul.” [5]

Kelley Parker

Kelley Parker with Jackson

Kelley Parker was the young girl in Michael Jackson’s 1988 movie Moonwalker. Shortly after Jackson’s death in 2009 she gave the following interview.

Kelley: “It’s hard… (losing composure, pauses) I’ll always feel that way. I’ll always be waiting for him.”

Steve Friess: “As I understand it you remained in contact with Michael up until very recently.”

Kelley: “Yeah. I remained very close with Michael for about ten years. Then after that I continued to stay in touch with him but not as regularly, every couple of years and then I did actually see him a couple of weeks before he passed away.”

Steve: “What was the occasion?”

Kelley: “I was working on a show he came to see, sort of randomly…”

Kelley: “I do know that in his life he would struggle with being so well known, that was sort of a constant struggle throughout his life. But I do have to say, I spent a lot of time with Michael alone on set, he and I had a lot of scenes together and he taught me so much. He was so dedicated. We would go through – before we even shot he and I would spend sometimes like half an hour together just improving, ’cause he was so committed to it.”

[…]

“Michael was magic, pure and simple. He was a man who believed in the goodness of mankind and embodied pure unconditional love for the world. I am so sad on so many levels. For the loss of an innovative genius and who was music and dance personified, for the loss of a man who loved the whole world and touched so many lives, but mostly, for me personally, the loss of a friend that I loved so dearly. Most people don’t know about how close I was to Michael for many years following ‘Moonwalker/Smooth Criminal’ because I was never one to exploit that, even to this day I rarely talk about it, for that was a friendship that I honored and respected as private. I feel compelled at this time though, to speak of my amazing friend, as a witness to his life, and the gentleness of his soul. He taught me so much, both as an actor and as a person, he continually inspired me to reach beyond my boundaries. He and I spent a great deal of time, one on one, while filming ‘Moonwalker.’ I remember that he told me once to never rush an emotion, that everything in life has a rhythm, and that it is the pauses and silences that speak the truth. He understood this better than anyone, he had a way of quietly inspiring everyone around him to be better than ever thought they could be. He helped so many, and inspired us all. Michael believed in Magic, he believed that we could change the world, and he had such unconditional love that when you were around him, you couldn’t help but believe it too. He is intertwined in all of who I am, I became a dancer because of him, I became an artist because he inspired me to dream, and a writer because he taught me the power of moving people through words and actions. I love you my friend, and I know you are in a better place, we were blessed to have you for as long as we did.” [6]

(Emphasis added.)

Nicole Richie, daughter of Lionel Richie

“Nicole, in particular, supported Jackson against the charges of improper sexual behavior with children. To that end, she offered tales of her own childhood romps at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, during which she often slept in Jackson’s bedroom. “You know, a group of us would all sleep in the same room,” she said. “It was like, absolutely nothing more than just…an adult kind of wanting to be a kid again. Just, you know, enjoying the company of children. I grew up with him. I have spent many evenings there and many days there.” Noting that she could “only speak for myself,” she still added “that absolutely nothing went on.”

Nicole also said that she wouldn’t have held her tongue had Jackson tried anything with her. “I’m not a quiet person,” she said. “If there was something going on, I’d be like ‘who are you?’… and I’d tell my parents. But my parents would never put me in hands that they thought were dangerous. I never had any complaints, and you know, I love him.” [7]

Lala Romero

Jackson with Lala Romero

“I don’t tell this story too often, in fact growing up I kinda learned to just keep it to myself.

Whenever people would find out I knew him, a gang of silly, dumb questions would follow, and I would always end up having to defend someone I loved so much.

When I was 5, my cousin Brian and I where OBSESSED with Micheal Jackson. We had dolls, sleeping bags, lunch boxes, and OF COURSE the gloves. I was pretty convinced I was going to be him when I grew up, and nobody could tell me otherwise! Brian was older then me, and found out at school MJ actually lived in the Valley, we lived in. Anyone from LA pretty much knew the house. So we wrote him letters and enclosed a bunch of pics, you remember the ones from school you’d write on the bk, yeah well, lucky Micheal got about 25 of me!! Basically we told him we LOVED him & I told him I was a singer and dancer!!! We also asked him to come to our house & visit!! Our loca tia Carol (RIP) took us to his house and we rang the guard gate. His guard came out to us & took our letters. WE WERE SOOOOOOO HAPPY, we KNEW he would get em!! I honestly can say we were just happy enough to see his gate & meet his guard NEVER did we really expect what happened next.

About 4 days later, at 10:30 pm, my mom got the call from Carol, Michael Jackson was HERE, in our APT building, on her couch. I was 5 & anybody who knows a 5 year old also knows that it’s damn near impossible to wake em up!! The pic you see of us is him holding me, cause I wouldn’t wake up, he insisted my parents take da pic so I would truly know he came!! A few days later I was going into the hospital for surgery & he called me. I couldn’t BELIEVE I was talking to Micheal Jackson & that he actually had my number!! Over the next few years he would invite Brian & I to his house, to watch him shot his videos & to his shows.

It’s weird, when I was lil, I didn’t really grasp FAME, especially his FAME. All I knew was he was my friend & I think that’s why he liked me. My friendship with him changed my life. It was a HUGE influence, it made me believe having a singer career was in arms reach. My neighborhood didn’t support BIG DREAMS but his friendship gave me confidence & assurance that ANYTHING & EVERYTHING is possible, if you work hard & aren’t scared to try. His generosity & kindness inspires me daily. Here was the biggest super star in the world taking time out to come to a broken down apt building in Van Nuys CA to see his fans. He was ALWAYS about his fans & his community, and I really always knew that if I got my chance I would strive to be just like that!!

Even as a tiny lil girl I could see his sadness & his lonely. It was a part of him, I think his childhood, fame & money alienated him from most of the world. That’s why he loved US cause we didn’t care about the BS!! We just had fun!! He was so goofy & silly, we would jump on his trampoline and raid his candy shop.

Micheal was like Edward Scissorhands & Willy Wonka to me, SOOOOO AMAZING in the HEART but so misunderstood by most! I love him always for touching my life & showing me a different world then the one I grew up in.

I hope those babies of his really grow up understanding that they did have the best daddy in the world. His heart & spirit are what made him the GREATEST and so RARE.

One day I’ll post more pics, and tell ya specific stories!! All the good things ya heard about him were ALL TRUE!! I promise!!

R.I.P M.J. YOU WILL BE MISSED AND ALWAYS LOVED!

This photo was taken on one of the VERY BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!!! Michael called me, after a surgery I had & invited me to the set of his video for “The Way You Make Me Feel”. Here’s what stood out about the day, the biggest super-star in the world made me feel like the super-star. In the middle of all his hectic-ness he would come see me, take pics with me & make sure I was good between takes!! At 5 yrs old I sat & watched him shoot, take after take in this warehouse in San Pedro CA. He introduced me to everyone, his sister Latoya was there, his co-star, that beautiful girl he was SO shy to kiss Tatiana. Even at that young age I was very aware of how gracious & kind he was with EVERYONE on set. Looking back now I remember he was sooooo excited that all of the extras were real ex bloods, crips, gang members from LA. I remember him being so excited about giving them a chance to shine & a new opportunity. We sat in his trailer, I remember telling him I wanted to be a singer when I grew up & gave him pics of me from my dance recital. I remember eating w him & him being the very first vegetarian I had ever met! I was like u don’t eat meat??? I was so confused!! Lol. Man writing this, thinking about this day & all the rest of the times I spent w him makes me smile!! As a lil girl I never really grasped how famous he was, honestly I think that’s why he loved hanging out w me! To me & all the other kids, he was just a fun, crazy, silly guy, who sang our most favorite songs. I love him for being the most honest, pure heart I have ever known for showin me video shoots, recording studios, & concerts, up close and personal, making my dream seem possible. I was there in it, seeing it happen, he brought me into a world I would have never known existed without him. A lil girl from Van Nuys CA. I can’t even begin to count the ways he changed my life. He helped create my dream. Records like Homegirlz & Sadgirl I know he would be proud of, he was always ALWAYS about giving back!! I miss him everyday & can’t believe he is gone.” [8]

Sky Ferreira

“My grandma worked with him for, like, 25 years and she became really close friends with him. I knew he was a singer and stuff but I think it was because he was always around that I never really thought much of it.” [9]

[…]

Speaking to Newsbeat, she said: “We just became friends with him. When I was born I was raised around him, I always saw him. I had holidays with him and stuff like that. [10]

[…]

“I’ve known Michael since I was born and he supported me about my singing and has helped my family very very much. He was probably the nicest and most giving person I’ve ever known. There will never be another Michael Jackson. Ever. I was so fortunate to actually know him. He is one of the biggest inspirations of music. Rest in peace Michael. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done.” [11]

(Emphasis added.)

Kidada and Rashida Jones, daughters of Quincy Jones

“Michael was like a member of my family, a surrogate son. He spent many hours with my daughter, Kidada who was a precocious child of eight at the time. They adored each other and totally communicated despite the age difference (he was twenty then). Her mother once found a phone bill showing Kidada made ninety-one long-distance calls to Michael in a single month. She played the telephone like Herbie Hancock plays the keyboards.” [12]

[…]

“It’s mostly little things that excite him or stir his emotions,” says Jones. “Childlike things. He loves children a lot. He’s been friends with my daughters for years. When he comes to my house, they think they’re doing me a big favor by lending him to me so he can rehearse, because they think he’s their friend. He’s just got a very pure type of enthusiasm about simple things.” And as for the snakes Jackson occasionally carts to work? “Now to me, that’s the strange part,” Jones says laughing. “When the dude brings in a fifteen-foot python — that’s what I can’t take.” [8]

[…]

“Malibu Magazine: Do you have any crazy stories about Michael Jackson?

Rashida: I remember Michael would take us to the mall to get toys, which was the most exciting thing ever. But he was always wearing a surgical mask, and I was so embarrassed to be seen with him! It just was not cool to be roaming around the mall with a dude wearing a surgical mask. But he was always so sweet to us, and so fun, just like a big kid, — like a really big kid. I feel so horrible for him. I feel so sad for his soul. He came into this world with so much talent, but he just didn’t know how to protect himself. Michael was exceedingly aware of the fact that he didn’t have a childhood, and he wanted to try to create a world in which he could try to make up for everything he had lost.

MM: So, taking you guys shopping for toys was something he would do to make him feel in touch with his own youth?

Rashida: Yes, exactly.” [13]

[…]

“Michael basically grew up with us, so I have a million memories of him. We were at each other’s houses all the time,” the Parks and Recreation star shares. “He was definitely a little bit of an alien, for sure, and when I was young, it felt as if he was my age, not 18 years older, but with just a little bit more pep.”

“Later, we’d go out on the town together. He always wore those surgical masks. Once, my sister, Michael, Emmanuel Lewis and I got in a car with Super Soakers and went by a movie theater and supersoaked the hell out of people waiting in line. They had no idea they’d just been supersoaked by the King of Pop.” [14]

[…]

MORGAN: What was he like, Michael Jackson.

JONES: I’m not making any excuses. He was so wonderful. He was a big kid. He really was that. It wasn’t — he was so innocent and just a big kid. And to me, at that age, he just was like me but taller and very much more talented.

MORGAN: That guy just knew how to do it, didn’t he?

JONES: He did. But he was also had this like — this thing just bubbling over. He had no choice. I mean, when you sound like that and you dance like that, what choice do you have? You have to give it to everybody, you know.” [15]

Lottie Rose’s daughter

Lottie Rose was Michael Jackson’s hairdresser between 1981 and 1994.

“Lottie Rose: He would allow me to bring my daughter with me. She would stay the nights and slept in Michael’s bed. I would be working on him. At Neverland, because the drive was so long, I would stay and we would have our own little room.

Her daughter: I met MJ when I was 11 years old… Just so happens, I was at my mom’s hair salon on a Saturday when she received a phone call from Bill Bray, MJ’s right hand man at the time. He told my mom that MJ liked her work (she did the hair for the soft sheen print advertisements) they called soft sheen and they referred them to her.

My mom thought it was a joke until the limousine pulled up in front of the salon. She told me about MJ at the very last minute… I couldn’t believe it and went crazy while Bill was pulling the limousine around to the back of the salon. Let me tell you… it was the best night ever for an 11 year old.

Really nice guy, very friendly and the best part was that I practically had MJ’s attention all to myself.

He was not shy at all. In fact, I was very shy and afraid to meet him at first because he was MJ. However, he was very friendly and helped me to warm up to him.

MJ and I talked mostly about me and my friends, what we did for fun, where we liked to go, what it was like to go to the mall, favorite stores, amusement parks, favorite rides, going to the beach, movies and more… He would also call me at home from time to time to chat on the phone.

Michael loved to play practical jokes. He would tell my mom that muscles or bubbles was around, and then would rub her leg to make her think it was one of the animals. She would hop around and scream sometimes… was really, really funny!” [8]

Sick children

Dave Dave

The story of Dave Dave (born David Rothenberg, but he changed his name to free himself to the memories of his father) was national news in the United States in the early 1980s. In 1983, during a custody battle between his parents, his father doused Dave with kerosene and set him on fire while the boy was asleep. 90 per cent of his body was burned. Michael Jackson heard of his story and befriended him. At Jackson’s funeral in 2009 Dave spoke about the emotional support that the star offered him through the years.

“He heard about me and contacted me. He wanted to meet me. I was about 7 years old at the time. He befriended me. He took me into his life. He opened up his arms to me and accepted me as a very good friend of his. And throughout the years he never let me go. Michael was like a father to me”.

“I turned around and there was Michael. At that moment we embraced and that embrace never ended throughout our whole entire friendship.”

“I believe what people fail to realize is that Michael was a human being. Throughout the years he was kind of stigmatized by the media”.

“He has been my friend throughout everything that I’ve been through. And he’s my only friend that I can say that’s been there for me always. He’s really had an impact on my life – not because he is a celebrity. Becuase he’s been through a kind of the same thing as I’ve been through.”

“He was a great person. He never hurt a soul and I’m happy to have been his friend all these years. Michael offered a lot of emotional support for me. Michael was there for me whenever I needed to talk to him. He opened up Neverland to me as a means to get away. Metaphorically he was always like a father that I never had.” [16]

The friendship between Jackson and Dave never ceased. In his book entitled Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson, Dr. William B. Van Valin II mentions meeting Dave at Neverland in the early 2000s. According to this account, Jackson gave Dave a job as a kind of courier because no one else would employ him due to his condition. [17]

Ryan White

Ryan White was a young boy from Kokomo, Indiana who became famous in the United States due to his struggles as an HIV/AIDS patient. White was born in 1971. He was a hemophiliac and became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment in the early ’80s. He was diagnosed with AIDS on December 17, 1984.

His story became national news when at his school 117 parents and 50 teachers signed a petition for the banning of White from school because at the time many people believed that AIDS could be transmitted through everyday interactions. The Whites even had to face lawsuit threats and violence from the local community (once a bullet was shot through the Whites’ living room window) and eventually they moved to another town, Cicero, where they were more welcome.

At the time several celebrities befriended Ryan and showed themselves openly with him, trying to help to dismantle the stigma around Ryan and AIDS – the most prominent ones being Elton John and Michael Jackson.

Jackson made several visits to the Whites and he also invited them to Neverland ranch. He also had many long phone calls with Ryan and gave him several gifts, including a red Mustang because it was Ryan’s favourite car.

Ryan passed away on April 8, 1990, at the age of 18.

Ryan’s mother Jeanne White said of their friendship:

”JW: Michael was amazed that Ryan never talked about his illness. And he said he never wanted anybody to feel sorry for him. So I think they really had this good communication of respect for each other”.

Q. You never had any hesitation about Ryan spending time with Michael Jackson?

JW: No!

… Michael was always interested in what Ryan was doing. He loved kids, and he didn’t care what race you were, what color you were, what was your handicap, what was your disease – Michael just loved all children.

Q. He did something incredibly special when he learned what Ryan’s favorite car was?

JW: We had a call from a car dealer who said they had a car for Ryan. [Michael did it] just to see the joy in the kid’s face.

[During the funeral] the car was sitting outside in the yard. Michael started the car and “Man in the Mirror” was playing. The little things made Michael so happy. You could see in his eyes and he was smiling from ear to ear and said, “I was the last person that Ryan was listening to…?” and I said, “Yes”. Ryan just listened to it over and over again.

Three days after the funeral Michael called me and asked me how I was doing. I said, “What made you and Ryan so close?” Michael said, “…Nobody ever acts normal round me. Ryan knew how I wanted to be treated because that’s how he wanted to be treated. I can’t trust anyone because everyone wants something from me”. Then he said, “I promised Ryan he could be in my next video, but now that he is gone I can’t put him in my video. But could I do a video for him? I was like, “That’s unbelievable”. And he did a video called Gone too soon… that’s the memory that’ll stay forever”. [18]

Ryan White with the car he got from Jackson as a gift

A phone call between Ryan and Jackson that Ryan’s mother recorded unbeknownst to Jackson.

Ryan White’s mother about keeping contact with Jackson even after Ryan’s death.

Amanda Porter

At the age of 11, in 1986 Amanda Porter (today Amanda Swafford) appeared on Good Morning America to talk about a rare genetic eye condition that had made her gradually lose her eyesight. On the program the interviewer asked her which celebrity she would like to meet and she said “Michael Jackson”. Jackson happened to watch the show and shortly after the interview he turned up at the hotel where Amanda’s family was staying with a lot of gifts to the girl. They became friends and the friendship lasted until the singer’s death in 2009.

Amanda’s mother Carole Nowicki said: “Michael continued to show kindness and devotion to Amanda over the years, exchanging gifts, even after they both had children. He will be sorely missed and we are grateful we had the opportunity to meet Michael the person and Michael the artist.” [8] [19]

 

Adults

Chris Tucker

Jackson was not only generous to kids or only to the parents of kids near him. Actor Chris Tucker reflected on the singer’s generosity in a 2015 interview with Jimmy Kimmel: “Michael was… he was the greatest entertainer ever and the biggest entertainer in the world, but he was the nicest guy in the world, man. He was just nice, man. I would go to Neverland and I would say I like something (and) he would give it to me. I said ‘Michael, I like that big screen TV’, he was like ‘You like it, Chris?’, I said ‘Yeah, I like it’, he said ‘You’d love it?’, I said ‘I would love it’. Next day I go home (and) Michael was sending a TV to my house. I said ‘Michael, thank you’. I was like ‘Michael is nice and rich’.” [20]

Doug Lewis

Doug Lewis worked on the set of Michael and Janet Jackson’s 1995 video “Scream” when he suffered an accident. The story in his own words:

“As predicted, crew call switched from 7am to 4pm, and we worked throughout each night until 4-6am. In the final hours of the last night of shooting, we had moved to the ‘zen’ set. This was it, last day, last set, last series of shots. The art department had prepped the set with final touches before Michael was brought in to take his place on the zen podium in the center of the set. Michael surveyed the scene and commented on how beautiful the set looked. He was very relaxed and it was obvious he enjoyed sitting in the middle of this temporary temple. When Mark called out for a piece of the ceiling to be trimmed, I grabbed a 12-step (ladder), scrambled to the top and began sawing. In an unfortunate moment the portable saw kicked back and amputated a third of my left ring finger. Without word, I reached in my back pocket for my rag, wrapped my finger with it and stepped down off the ladder and exited the set. I passed Tom on the way out and showed him what happened. Tom escorted me to the edge of the stage and I laid down on the concrete. It wasn’t long before an entire film crew of towering bodies was in a half circle looking down at me. Union guys chewing gum. 3am. Right?

Suddenly the crowd parts and Michael appears and stands there for a moment, leaning over me, looking down. He looks at my left hand held in the air then he looks at me. Then just like that he is on his knees by my right side and he picks up my right hand and holds it in his. He looks me straight in the eye and tells me how sorry he was, he kept repeating how sorry he was, and then he had tears in his eyes and he held my hand until the ambulance came and took me away.

That next week, recovering at home, the gifts began arriving from Michael and Janet, tasteful and cool things like great soaps, a bathrobe, incense, a card. Anyway, that’s my story. Michael Jackson held my hand, too. Michael, if you read this, thanks for caring. [21]

The Grandmother of Chris Cantore

Chris Cantore, describes an encounter between his grandparents and Michael Jackson on an airplane.

“[T]his is crazy and I actually used to tell this on my radio show annually around Christmas time. It became a tradition and we used to call the segment “Michael Jackson Saved My Grandma” and it’s nuts especially when you look at his history and you look at his trajectory and all the controversy surrounding him, this story really touches the human spirit and really shows underneath all the paparazzi and craziness was a guy who really cares about human beings.

It was a real testament to the situation where essentially my grandparents, it was in December, 1997 and my grandparents were flying in from JFK in New York to LAX to visit my family for Christmas. On the flight my grandmother gets sick and ends up passing out and falling in the aisle – they were sitting Coach. My grandfather is stressing out and Michael Jackson, it turns out, is sitting in first class. No one on the plane knew and he had first class reserved for himself, security entourage and people he travelled with. He hears about what’s going on in coach and Michael Jackson gets out of his seat and runs back to help my grandmother and when she comes to he’s hovering over her (laughs). […] Seriously and he’s like “Do you need help?” and she comes to and my grandfather’s there and essentially, he invites my grandparents into first class. […] So she can get proper attention and part of Michael’s entourage includes medical support and what have you. […] So while my grandmother is kind of getting her lucidity back if you will, my grandfather ends up having a two hour dialogue with Michael Jackson 35,000 feet in the air. […] And what’s insane about my grandfather, and this is why I love him so much, God rest his soul, is that he looked at Michael as if he couldn’t care less if he were Michael Jackson or a plumber and he just engaged him in honest conversation and they talked about family, they talked about Michael’s childhood and they talked about Italy which were my grandfather’s three favorite things to talk about and they had this amazing dialogue. When they land, Michael says, “I’m not letting you guys figure out your way” because my parents at this point might have been alerted that something happened on the plane – everything’s cool. Rather then having my grandparents go off on their own they basically said, “hey, you know what? We’re going to take you to your destination”. […] So they get my grandmother a wheelchair and Michael Jackson is pushing my grandmother through the LAX Airport through all these backend crazy little caverns – they’re not dealing with the public but word gets out that Michael Jackson’s at LAX right when he’s pushing my grandmother through and trying to be secretive, not to get any attention. Granted you think they’re trying to get publicity doing stuff like this, he’s doing his best to divert the paparazzi to help my grandparents so they end up doing three different limo changes just to divert the paparazzi with my grandmother in the wheelchair. […] They get in the limo, they hit the 405 on the way to the Valley to see my parents, again it’s Christmas time and Michael pops in his favorite movie at the time “Men in Black” so we have Michael Jackson and my grandparents watching “Men in Black” in his limo (laughing) on his way to my folks house. They show up to my parents and my mom opens the door and there’s my grandfather, my grandmother and, hand to God dude, Michael Jackson carrying their bags. […] So they come in the house and Michael was totally enamored by my parent’s Christmas tree and the family spirit that he felt in the house and he couldn’t stop talking about how he felt so much love and warmth in the house and he was enamored by the Christmas tree and just the spirit that was in the house and he was kind of sticking around and kind of looking around and not sure what to do and my mom’s theory is he was kind of, just based on his, obviously career, he was waiting around like “hey, you guys want a picture or something?” for sentiment or what not,  but my mom was just so blown away by what happened they never even took a picture to document the event BUT, I got a big but here though – what I do have and I was going to post this on my blog later to is Michael Jackson actually signed a menu in first class for my parents when they were still in route on their way to Los Angeles and hold on I had my mom scan it and send it down to me and it says “To Concetta De Lisi and Joseph De Lisi, please feel better, love you always, Michael Jackson.“ [22]

Homeless people

From the 2014 book Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days by two of Jackson’s bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard:

“Javon: One night, we were driving home from the Strip, and there was this on-ramp for the freeway that we had to pass to get back to the house. We were stopped at a red light by this ramp, and right off the road there was a homeless man and woman. They were arguing with each other about something. The man was sitting and the woman was standing with a sign; it’s the kind of thing you see all the time out here, people with signs that say “Homeless, Please Help.” Vegas is a hard town. You get caught up in gambling and all that? It’ll ruin you.

Bill: Mr. Jackson saw these people and said, “Why are these people out there?” “Those are homeless people, sir.” He was like, “Really? Wow.” He told Javon to pull over. We pulled over to the curb and we just watched for a minute. Mr. Jackson saw all the other cars passing by, and he asked, “Why isn’t anybody helping them? Why isn’t anybody stopping?” Then he said to Javon, “Call the woman over to the car.” Javon rolled down his window, waved her over. When she got to the car, Mr. Jackson rolled his window down just a little bit and said, “What’s your name?” “Amanda,” she said. They talked for a bit. He wanted to know her story. He asked her where she was from, where’s her family at. She said she used to be a dancer, a showgirl. Then I heard him reaching around in the backseat for something. I heard the sound of paper. He was pulling out money. He pulled out three one-hundred-dollar bills, gave them to her and said, “Here. Take this.” She was floored. She was almost crying, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Javon: After he gave her the money, she backed up a few steps and I started to drive off. The guy that had been sitting near her got up, came over to her, and tried to snatch the money away. She pulled back, but he kept trying to grab it from her and they started fighting again. She started yelling, “No! This is mine!” Mr. Jackson saw that and said, “No, no, no! Javon, stop the car. Pull back over.” I pulled back over, he leaned back out of the window and called the man over this time, saying, “Don’t do that! Here, I’ve got something for you too.” He pulled out another three hundred dollars and gave it to the man. The lady started crying, like she’d been saved.

Bill: He told them to use the money for food. “Get something nourishing,” he said. “Don’t get any drugs.” “No, sir!” they said. “No, sir!” They were both gushing with thank-yous and God-bless-yous when all of a sudden the man stopped and looked in the car window and said, “Are you Michael Jackson?” “No. No, I’m not.” I turned to the backseat. “Are you ready to go, sir?” “Yeah, I’m ready,” he said. And we pulled off. As we were driving, Mr. Jackson said, “Are there a lot of people like that in Vegas?” “Yeah,” I said. “There are parts of Vegas where a lot of homeless people live.” “Really? Can we go there?” I hesitated a moment. “You want to go there tonight, sir? Tonight wouldn’t be a good time.” “No, no,” he said. “We can go another day. I just want to see.” The bad part of Vegas is on the north side, Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, over by Cashman Field. When he mentioned going there, I was hoping he’d forget about it. Sometimes when he made unusual requests, things I knew weren’t feasible or just weren’t a good idea, I’d wait a bit before following up, to see if he’d drop it. Sometimes he would. If he reminded me again, I knew he was very serious. This time, he remembered. A couple days later, he came to me and said, “When are we going to go to that side of town?” “What side of town is that, sir?” “Where the homeless people are.” “We can go there today.” “Okay, let’s go.” So we took him to the other side of town, about twenty minutes from the house. We headed north up Main Street, and all of these people were out. You could hear in his voice that he was shocked that all of these people out here were homeless. He couldn’t believe it. “It’s just amazing,” he said. “This country is so rich and these people are poor and living on the street.” He asked Javon to pull over, so we pulled over. I was a little antsy. I wasn’t cool pulling over in a nice car with all these people around. We sat there on the side of the road for a bit. Then Mr. Jackson said, “I want to give them something.” I thought he meant he wanted to get out of the car. I said, “I don’t think it’d be a good idea to go out there, sir.” He said, “No, no, no. I’ll pass it out of the window.” He cracked the window and started waving people over. He had a fanny pack he was wearing. He opened it up and the whole thing was stuffed full of cash. They would come to the window and he would pass out a hundred-dollar bill through the crack in the window to each one. One thing I noticed was that he was trying to catch the attention of the women. He wanted to make sure they were the ones who got the money. He was like, “Come here. No, no, no. You. You come here.” A lot of men got money too, but I could hear him singling the women out of the crowd, calling them forward. People started lining up outside his window, like it was an ATM.

Javon: He gave away so much he ran out, and he got upset with himself. He was saying he should have brought more. We started to see another side of him, his compassion for others, and it was kind of amazing. There was no media out there, no cameras. There was only a crack in the window, so no one could tell it was him. It was just something that he wanted to do. After that, we went and handed out food to the homeless a number of times. He’d say, “Me and the kids are not going to eat this. Let’s take this down and give it away.” One time, he wanted the kids to come with us and see it, so we brought them along.” [23]

Jackson’s own mother, Katherine had similar experiences: ”What I love about Michael, he was such a humble person. I am not just saying it because he’s my son, but he was one of the best people. He’d seen somebody standing in the corner beginning and he’d stop the car and just give them all the money in his pocket $300 or $400 and sometimes more.” [24]

Families

Jackson often befriended whole families, rather than just one individual of a family.  This too was often misrepresented in the media and by the prosecution as “preying on young boys” and “grooming” them and their parents, but in reality this sheltered, isolated and often lonely star was simply looking for a connection with “normal people” and a normal family atmosphere and often it were not even the children of a family that he was the closest to.

The Cascio family were very close to Jackson since the 1980s until the singer’s death. In his 2011 book entitled My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man, Frank Cascio defended Jackson against the allegations and attested to the fact that the media misunderstood Jackson and his relationship with families like theirs.

Jackson with Frank Cascio ca. 1984

 

Late 1980s

Mid 1990s

Early 2000s

Eddie Cascio with Jackson in 2007 at the Cascio’s home

This, by the way, also refutes the narrative that Jackson “dropped boys” when they reached puberty. In actuality, for the most part he remained friends with the people he befriended as kids until he died.

William van Valin

William Van Valin, a medical doctor and his family befriended Jackson in the early 2000s. In his 2012 book entitled Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson, he too portrays a lonely star who was simply looking for a normal friendship and a connection with “normal”, everyday people. In that case, out of the whole family it was the father, William, who spent most of the time with Jackson and was the closest to him – including sleeping in Jackson’s bed, which, again, had nothing to do with sex.

“In Michael’s room there was a couch with a King sized roll out bed in it. It was always in the rolled out position and it was always turned down like you were in a hotel. It faced the biggest TV I’d ever seen at that time. We would put in a movie, order from the kitchen whatever we were hungry for and watch movies until late at night. If Michael fell asleep while we were watching a movie, I would turn the volume down slowly, unplug it (because if I used the controller it made a loud noise as it turned off ) and quietly leave the room and go home. I remember I did this one night and was tiptoeing to the door when I heard Michael say, “See you tomorrow, Barney.” For whatever reason, it was very difficult for Michael to sleep. So, if he fell asleep I was always careful to let him stay that way. Sometimes he’d ask me to read something to him and I’d find a book and just read it out loud then slip away when it seemed he was asleep.” [27]

Damion Stein, who was a friend of Michael as a kid in the 1980s, talked about a similar experience in a 2005 documentary: “He adopted my family. He started becoming more and more attached to my family as a whole, rather than just me individually. […] We opened up our family to him and he was kind of another member of the family. And he got to experience what a family atmosphere was about and I think that isn’t something that he ever had himself.” [26] Damion attests to the fact that Jackson was most attached to his mother, Glenda, and he spoke with her on the phone for hours on end. “He needed someone to confide in. […] My dad would be waiting for my mom in bed, for her to come to bed and she would never come. You know, she would be speaking with him in depths on the phone, you know, late hours at a night.” [26] This made the father jealous and he started taping the conversations of his wife and Jackson. Hours of long phone conversations of Jackson and Glenda leaked many years ago, some of which can be found on YouTube. Just one example:

Jackson befriended Debra Willis from 1998 until he died. He was also very fond of Debra’s grandmother. Debra and Jackson remained friends until he died in 2009.

Sources:

[1] “grooming” – http://www.yourdictionary.com/grooming
[2] Memories of Michael, Family, friends and colleagues on the King of Pop (The Independent, June 27, 2009)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/memories-of-michael-1722259.html
[3] Katherine Jackson, Richard Wiseman – My Family, The Jacksons (St Martins Mass Market Paper, 1990)
[4] Laura Chaplin – Charlot jusqu’au bout des doigts (Le Matin, February 25, 2015)
http://www.lematin.ch/people/charlot-jusqu-doigts/story/24716250
[5] Michael and Mrs. Ma Family (TrueMichaelJackson.com)
http://www.truemichaeljackson.com/true-stories/michael-and-mrs-ma-family/
[6] Q&A CineVegas Podcast with Vincent Paterson, after a Moonwalker screening in 2009
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/cinevegas-podcast/id286624982
[7] Wade Paulsen – Nicole Richie defends Michael Jackson, while Paris Hilton blows off Letterman (Realitytvworld.com, November 21, 2003)
http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/nicole-richie-defends-michael-jackson-while-paris-hilton-blows-off-letterman-2017.php
[8] The Invisible Children – Michael Jackson’s Female Kid Friends
http://rhythmofthetide.com/category/the-allegations/female-kid-friends-the-allegations/
[9] Michael Cragg – Sky Ferreira: Teen contender takes her time (The Guardian, August 12, 2010)
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/aug/12/sky-ferreira-michael-jackson-britney-spears
[10] Oli Wilson, Kirstie Andrews – Sky Ferreira on being friends with Michael Jackson (BBC, August 18, 2010)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/11010080/sky-ferreira-on-being-friends-with-michael-jackson
[11] Sky Ferreira: I Was Fortunate To Actually Know Michael Jackson (Popdirt.com, June 25, 2009)
http://popdirt.com/sky-ferreira-i-was-fortunate-to-actually-know-michael-jackson/74473/
[12] Quincy Jones – Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (Three Rivers Press, 2002)
[13] https://www.malibumag.com/site/article/rashida_jones/P1/
The original article is no longer available, for a secondary source see: http://rhythmofthetide.com/category/the-allegations/female-kid-friends-the-allegations/
[14] Interview with Rashida Jones – Playboy, October 2011, for a secondary source see: http://rhythmofthetide.com/category/the-allegations/female-kid-friends-the-allegations/
[15] Interview With Rashida Jones (CNN.com, December 9, 2011)
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1112/09/pmt.01.html
[16] Dave Dave
http://www.truemichaeljackson.com/true-stories/dave-dave/
[17] William Van Valin II – Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson (CreateSpace Independent Publishing  Platform, December 20, 2012)
[18] Interview with Jeanne White
http://www.truemichaeljackson.com/true-stories/ryan-white/
[19] A amizade de Michael com o modelo Amanda Swafford
https://falandodemichaeljackson.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/a-amizade-de-michael-com-o-modelo-amanda-swafford/
[20] Chris Tucker on Jimmy Kimmel Live (June 23, 2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=678dOm3sOw4
[21] Venice Arts Club – Michael Jackson Held My Hand, Too (September 6, 2009)
https://veniceartsclub.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/michael-jackson-held-my-hand-too/
[22] Michael Jackson Saved My Grandma – Radio Interview Transcript (June 26, 2009)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JdzLz7Ty6E
[23] Bill Whitfield, Javon Beard, Tanner Colby – Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days (Weinstein Publishing, 2014)
[24] Bang Showbiz – Michael Jackson was generous to the homeless (Contactmusic.com, August 28, 2013)
http://www.contactmusic.com/michael-jackson/news/michael-jackson-was-generous-to-the-homeless_3839294
[25] The Cascio family on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2010
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E-pmUppNJQ
[26] Damion Stein interview from the 2005 British documentary “Michael Jackson’s Boys”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q_SlahCqVo
In the fashion of Martin Bashir, this documentary operated using innuendo and suggestive narration in order to raise suspicion about Jackson’s relationship with male children, however it is the narration that gives Damion’s words a suggestive angle, while Damion never claimed any wrongdoing by Jackson. In actuality, Damion attests to the fact that what Jackson was looking for in these relationships was a family atmosphere and it was Damion’s mother who he was most attached to. For the record, the mother, Glenda Stein, stated on Facebook, commenting an article about Jackson in September, 2011, that she has never believed that Jackson was a pedophile: “I never thought that Michael was a pedophile. He loved kids but not in that sick way. Leave his family alone.” http://www.facebook.com/aol/posts/226747887382305?comment_id=2815772
[27] William B. Van Valin, MD – Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson
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