Pop star icon Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles of an apparent cardiac arrest. He was 50 years old. Jackson’s death was reported to the media by he brother Jermaine, who was at his side when he has taken to UCLA Medical Center hospital after apparently suffering a heart seizure. An emergency room team worked on him for over an hour trying to revive him but to no avail, and he was pronounced dad at 2:26 p.m. Pacific Time.
Jackson had been trying to make a music comeback and had several concerts scheduled for this summer with tickets for them virtually sold out. His recent concert in London had been received by a packed house, indicated that the King of Pop was still top billing despite not being actively involved in the music and entertainment business for some time. His sister Janet, who was in the midst of making a movie, went immediately to be with her family after hearing the tragic news.
Although Jackson had not personally appeared in Israel as a music artist, he had several close Israeli friends, most notably magician and surrealist effect artist Uri Geller, who said he was profoundly saddened to learn of Jackson’s death.
Michael Jackson was born in Indiana in 1958 and his early talent as a singer and performer was seized upon by his father who featured his six year old son in a family singing group that became known as the Jackson Five. It was no turning back after that, and the young pop star led the group to win Grammy after Grammy until he finally “went solo” as a teenager during the 1970’s. During his music career, Jackson achieved fame that few musicians ever have and was indicted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Once with the Jackson Five and once as a solo singer. He won more than 12 Grammies in all as well as numerous musical awards. His pop movie, Thriller, won 8 Grammies on it’s own.
Jackson’s personal life was as news worthy as well as it was tragic, and was often filled with controversy. His strange and often eccentric life style, included being married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of music legend Elvis Presley. That marriage, in which it was often queried if the couple actually lived together, lasted less then two years. He then married Debbie Rowe, and had two children with her before the marriage dissolved in 1999. Jackson made headlines when he was photographed dangling one of his children off a balcony of a hotel the family was staying in while visiting Berlin.
Jackson love for young children, especially young boys, was also mixed with controversy; and while many said it was due to his lost childhood by being thrust into the entertainment world at such an early age, there were also rumors that he had more than a fond relationship with them. He often brought hundreds of young children to his extravagant Neverland Ranch where he set up an almost Disneyland type of atmosphere, complete with a large zoo. He also established his Heal the World Foundation to help better the lives of underprivileged children, one of whom, a 13 year boy, accused Jackson of molesting him. That court case, which was literally plastered on the world media, cost the singer his career, and he never really recovered from it, even though he was eventually acquitted. He also have a strange skin problem that caused him to literally “turn white”, which was coupled with being burned once during a singing performance (he lost most of his nose during that accident). He also became the victim of ridicule and off-beat humor by numerous talk show hosts, who appeared to enjoy capitalizing on his misfortunes.
Jackson had amassed a fortune during his music and entertainment career, but didn’t have the ability to hold on to most of it, as he spent millions on his Neverland Ranch, and his numerous legal defenses, including several financial settlements with his ex-wives and with children who has accused him of sexual misconduct. He also traveled to several world locations, including the Persian Gulf Emirate of Dubai, to try to find “a haven form the world” for himself and his children. Some people who knew him well say that he was in a bad financial situation, which is what may have prompted him to return to the public concert scene and even to consider making new pop music recordings.
Tributes have been coming in from all over the world, and the noisy atmosphere of New York City’s Times Square and Los Angeles’s Chinese Theater (where Jackson’s celebrity “star” is included along with other entertainment celebs) seemed gripped in moments of silence when word of Jackson’s death was broadcast by the media. “I was really saddened to hear of Michael’s death â€“ he was a true friend and co-worker” said actress Brooke Shields, who had known Jackson during his career. “Learning of Michael’s death was almost like hearing about (John Fitzgerald) Kennedy’s assassination” a fan noted.