Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Katherine Jackson Lies About Divorce Filings to Oprah–And That’s Not All


Oprah’s Michael Jackson show has just ended. Her interviews with Katherine and Joseph Jackson produced a lot of lies, some tears, and a great deal of insincerity.

On the positive side: Michael’s kids are terrific. From Oprah’s interview with them at the end of the show you can see especially that Prince and Paris have somehow weathered the storm. Michael’s choice of Debbie Rowe as a mother for his children turns out to be prescient. Paris looks and sounds just like her: determined and smart. And she’s only 12.

What did the Jackson parents lie about? Katherine has a faulty memory of how she learned her son was dead. Michael’s manager, Frank DiLeo told her after calling her nephew and summoning them to the hospital. Dr. Conrad Murray was in the room. She asked himĀ  a few questions. But it was DiLeo who was with Michael when he was pronounced dead, and told Mrs. Jackson because they were friends. It was DiLeo who also told Michael’s kids that their father was dead. Paris, he recalled, starting screaming, “I’m an orphan!” It was then that DiLeo brought the kids in to see Mrs. Jackson, who did not really know them well at all.

More: Katherine Jackson has filed for divorce from Joseph Jackson twice since 1970. A few months ago, she was ready to do it again. Joe Jackson has fathered at least one child outside their marriage. All of this has been well documented. I wrote the about the divorce filings almost exactly six years ago at,2933,137049,00.html

Oprah didn’t go after Joe Jackson too hard on beating the kids. I suppose she figures everyone knows it. Michael was indeed terrified of his father. Joe Jackson didn’t just use a strap. He locked Michael in a closet if he didn’t perform correctly during rehearsals for the Jackson 5. He told me in 2001 that he would “beat their backs” if the children misbehaved. He is an onerous human being.

I questioned Joe Jackson in 2001 about beating Michael. Here’s the column:,2933,137049,00.html

The subject of beating produced an interesting reaction from Katherine Jackson. “That’s the way black people raise their children,” she told Oprah. I rather doubt most black people in Oprah’s audience would concur. That quote should be the subject of much discussion, I think.

Interestingly, Oprah didn’t ask Mrs. Jackson why all those kids were living in the house when she’s been ordered to clear them out by the family court judge. She didn’t ask Joe Jackson about suing to get an allowance from Michael’s estate, or suing to remove the executors, or trying to cash in on Michael’s death.

But she couldn’t do everything, and the interviews with the kids at the end were pure gold. Everyone thought Michael Jackson was completely crazy. He was drug dependent. But it turns out he was a good father. That’s going to be his most important legacy.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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