Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Please Sir No More: “Oliver!” Star Mark Lester is Not the Father of Michael Jackson’s Kids


I have to say, I am really amazed the one time child star Mark Lester is still suggesting he’s the father of Michael Jackson’s children. It’s just ridiculous. The man seems to have snapped. Lester was the star of “Oliver!” when he was 12. He and Michael became friends when they were teens, and they were indeed friends. My 2004 interview with Lester follows. Today Lester is in the British papers starting up again. His daughter looks nothing like Paris. He looks nothing like Prince. I can’t imagine what his family thinks about this craziness. Anyway. He conceded in this interview that he never even met Debbie Rowe. When Michael Jackson was alive there was no suggestion by him of any of this. Lester was a chiropractor in England. I don’t know if he still has his practice. But he’s certainly turned into someone who knows about “manipulation.” In “Oliver!” the title character wants more gruel at his orphanage. He utters the famous line “Please sir, may I have some more?” Please, Mark Lester, no more.

Jacko Spent New Year’s Eve With ‘Oliver!’ Star– from January 9, 2004 c2013 Roger Friedman

Mark Lester — who as a child starred in the 1968 movie musical “Oliver!” — spent New Year’s Eve with Michael Jackson at the singer’s rented Beverly Hills mansion.

Once Jackson put his three kids to sleep, it was just the two 45-year-old men, lifelong friends, who sat up and watched Dick Clark‘s “Rockin’ New Year’s” on TV.

Lester, if you don’t know, was the Macaulay Culkin of his day: tousled blond hair, a cute kid. His performance as Oliver Twist, uttering the now famous request for more porridge — “Please, sir, may I have some more?” — made him a huge star at the age of 10. When Jackson and his brothers performed in the U.K. in the early 1970s, Michael asked to meet Lester. “He wanted to meet someone who had a similar background, a child star,” Lester told me.

The result has been a lifelong friendship.

Lester was at Neverland last February several days after the Martin Bashir interview aired and he was with him this past October in Las Vegas when Jackson signed memorabilia at a bookstore. The father of three girls and one boy told me he completely supports Jackson and believes him innocent of the charges of child molestation.

He did get to see Jackson in his new habitat, with the Nation of Islam surrounding him. “One of their members picked me up at the airport,” he said. “And I did meet Leonard Muhammad briefly. But there was no sense of tension in the house. In fact, I’ve seen Michael at Neverland and in hotels with security, and I thought it was much more relaxed at this house.”

Lester told me that Jackson is “angry. And he feels betrayed” by the family whom he took in. He said that while he was visiting, little mention was made of the charges pending against Jackson, and that the star had limited interest in news accounts of his predicament.

“He’s not cut off. He chooses not to watch it. He doesn’t care what they say in the media. He says, America is a free country.”

Lester told me he was surprised as everyone else in the world when word came down that Neverland had been raided with search warrants by the police. “I was completed shocked. I’d just been with Michael in Las Vegas in October.” Last February, Lester met the boy at the center of the controversy at Neverland. “He and his family were just guests. There were a lot of kids, a lot of people staying there.”

Despite their 30-year friendship, Lester has never met Debbie Rowe, the mother of Jackson’s children. He never met Lisa Marie Presley, either, he said, but spoke to her once on the phone. He said that in all this time he has not questioned Jackson about his plastic surgery, but acknowledges that a skin disease has caused Jackson’s skin color to change.

“His melanin is gone,” Lester said, “and it’s very painful for him to be in the sun. He has vast depigmentation. He takes medicine to fill in the blotches where he’s turned white.”

Lester’s children have spent a lot of time at Neverland, but they’ve never stayed in Jackson’s bedroom. “We’ve been in there and all through the house, eating ice cream and watching TV.” But he says he wishes Jackson would not make his ideas about children sleeping in his bed public. “He needs someone to tell him to put a sock in his mouth,” he said. “He can be his own worst enemy.”

He said that Jackson understands the public criticism of the statements he’s made, and “doesn’t care” what people think.

“He can switch between being a 12-year-old and being a 45-year-old,” Lester said. “He’s told me that when he writes, he’s like a 12-year-old. That’s where he gets his inspiration. And he’s always been that way, like a Peter Pan, since he was 15.”

For New Year’s Eve, the pair of friends watched TV after Jackson’s three kids went to sleep. Lester said they too turned in before the midnight hour. “There was no one else around,” said Lester, who left his wife and kids at home for this visit. The temporary house, for which Jackson is said to be paying between $70,000 and $100,000 a month, is “beautiful.” Will Michael ever return to Neverland? “I think he will eventually,” said Lester, who gave up show business and is an osteopath outside of London. “But he doesn’t miss it right now. He feels like he’s been violated.”


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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