Joseph Jackson’s family is mourning his death. His grandchildren have seen a different side of him than his actually children. His wife, Katherine, tried to divorce him a couple of times. His children– Michael and LaToya especially– accused him of abuse on many occasions. The Jackson grandchildren will never know what really happened unless their parents admit them. Luckily, the grandchildren have had such different lives, with mostly a lot of support from their parents.
In 2001, I asked Joseph Jackson about punishing his children.
I asked him though about his parental philosophy. “You have to be strict with kids,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with punishment as long as you know how to punish.”
What would be a typical punishment? “Beat his back,” Joe Jackson replied before I could even get the question out.
This is what I wrote on October 29th, 2004:
Michael Jackson’s teen years have been profiled in books and movies. But until now, it’s never been revealed that his parents, Katherine and Joseph, were nearly divorced when he was 15 years old.
According to legal documents obtained by this column, Katherine Jackson, disgusted by her husband’s philandering, obtained a petition for divorce on March 9, 1973, and filed it with the Los Angeles County clerk.
According to several people I’ve spoken with in the last few days, Katherine Jackson was finally convinced to rescind the divorce papers at the urging of elders at her Jehovah’s Witnesses church.
Katherine also attempted to divorce her husband in or around 1979, but again was persuaded to drop the action, my sources said.
One motivation for Katherine’s unhappiness, at least in the second instance, was the revelation that her husband had fathered a love child with his mistress.
That child, a girl named Joh’Vonnie Jackson, is now 30, lives with Joseph Jackson in Las Vegas and for some time worked at that city’s McCarran International Airport. Joh’Vonnie’s mother is Cheryl Terrell.
Joseph Jackson’s extramarital affairs, including one with a Motown Records assistant named Gina Sprague, have been detailed in a TV movie about the Jackson family as well as in several books, including one by the Jacksons’ daughter La Toya.
In her 1990 memoir “Growing Up in the Jackson Family,” La Toya wrote that during the tumultuous early ’70s, when the Jackson 5 were busy accumulating hits and touring all over the world, her mother never considered divorce. The papers indicate otherwise.
“That was all in La Toya’s book,” Jackson’s spokeswoman told me yesterday and promised to get back to me.
Joh’Vonnie Jackson, according to my sources, has held several positions at McCarran Airport, including working as a baggage handler. She is not included in Jackson family events and has never visited Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
When the Jackson siblings appear in court together to show solidarity for Michael, Joh’Vonnie is not present. As far as I can tell, neither Michael nor Janet has ever referred to Joh’Vonnie in any interviews.
On Katherine Jackson’s 1973 divorce petition, she listed the five of her nine children who were still minors at the time: La Toya, Marlon, Michael, Steven (aka Randy) and Janet.
Rebbie, Tito, Jackie, and Jermaine were all over 18 by that time. Joh’Vonnie, the youngest child of Joseph Jackson, is eight years the junior of Janet, who was born in 1966.
Even though neither of Katherine Jackson’s divorce petitions was ever finalized, the couple do not live together, insiders say.
Katherine spends most of her time in Encino, Calif., and Joseph lives in Las Vegas. His wife was not present this year when he had his annual birthday bash in Sin City.