Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop”, but he was also a deeply controversial figure.
His legal battles and eccentricities kept him in the tabloids for long after his 2009 death, and we’re still learning some pretty unbelievable facts about the singer.
Recently, Lifetime aired Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, a tell-all, unauthorized biopic written from the perspective of his bodyguards. The film revealed some strange things about Jackson, such as…
1. Once, after a photographer took a photo of Blanket, one of Jackson’s assistants allegedly destroyed the camera.
Jackson then paid the photographer $75,000 for the broken equipment, according to the late pop star’s bodyguard, Javon Beard. Jackson then fired the assistant who had broken the camera.
Michael Jackson was notoriously protective of his children. The film goes into some detail in this respect, showing Jackson putting masks on his children before taking them out in public and calling it a “dress up” game.
2. He didn’t celebrate Christmas.
In his later years, the singer was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and the religion doesn’t allow the celebration of holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Jehovah’s Witnesses generally believe that these holidays have pagan origins.
However, according to the biopic, Jackson allowed his children to celebrate Christmas and open presents. The film suggests that while the holidays went against Jackson’s religious beliefs, he was able to put those beliefs aside for the benefit of his kids.
3. He had an “escape kit” ready.
In case he’d need to suddenly leave the country, Jackson reportedly kept passports for himself and his children on him at all times. He also carried a briefcase with $200,000 and the Oscar statue for Gone with the Wind.
As you no doubt realize, Jackson wasn’t in Gone with the Wind. The statue was awarded to producer David O. Selznick for the 1939 classic, and Jackson paid a record $1.54 million for the relic in 1999. Oddly enough, the Oscar went missing after Jackson’s death in 2009.
4. He eventually ran into financial trouble.
The biopic makes the case that Jackson eventually ran out of money, and while he was in debt, he was unable to pay members of his staff. His bodyguards, however, felt a sense of loyalty to the singer, so they continued to work without pay.
There was a way out—Jackson’s financial advisors told him to do a Las Vegas residency, which would have earned millions of dollars. Bodyguard Bill Whitfield claims that Jackson refused, saying that the residency would “kill him.” Why? He couldn’t perform at an incredibly high level every night, and keenly aware of his own legacy, Jackson refused to perform with less energy or a smaller stage show.
Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland drew in 2 million viewers, so it was certainly a success. Given the incredible revelations portrayed in the film, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. However, it’s worth noting that this film is an unauthorized picture—all of these claims come from two of Jackson’s bodyguards, so they’re certainly worth taking with a grain of salt.