Michael Jackson was one of the world's most high profile celebrities and yet he endeavoured to live his private life in near secrecy. Here are 20 things you might not know about the King of Pop.

Published: 1:31PM BST 26 Jun 2009

U.S. Pop singer Michael Jackson dances during his performance in Munich's Olympic stadium, 1999 Photo: REUTERS
1. His favourite animated character was Pinocchio
2. When he was a child his favourite books included Rip Van Winkle and The Old Man and the Sea
3. Michael Jackson was very ticklish
4. Saint Vincent, an island in the Caribbean, once issued Michael Jackson stamps
5. The singer once owned a boa constrictor called “Muscles”
6. As a youngster he used to put spiders in sister La Toyah’s bed
7. He played a scarecrow in The Wiz, a movie version of the Wizard of Oz
8. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (one for himself and one as part of the Jackson Five)
9. Quincy Jones nicknamed him “smelly” – a slang term similar to “funky”
10. Jackson described his own voice on early Jackson 5 records as “like Minnie Mouse”
11. He was a big fan of The Three Stooges
12. He is an Exeter City fan
13. He had two llamas called Louis and Lola
14. Thriller spent 37 weeks at number one in the US Billboard chart.
15. In 1984 he won eight Grammy’s – the joint highest amount ever won by one person in a single year
16. He gave his first public performance at the age of 5 singing Climb Every Mountain
17. He had eight brothers and sisters
18. His marriage to Lisa-Marie Presley lasted only 19 months
19. Jackson paid $47 million for the publishing rights to the Beatles back catalogue in 1985 and sold a share of to Sony in 1995 for $95 million
20. His middle name was Joseph
21. He was born on Aug 29, 1958
22. At the Brit Awards in 1996 Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker took exception to his bombastic performance of Earth Song and ran on to the stage
23. Jackson was very fond of Mexican food
24. In 1993 Jackson’s dermatologist said he had a rare skin disease called vitiligo, which causes sufferers to lose pigmentation in their skin
25. Thriller is the world’s best-selling record of all time with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide
26. Two of his other albums – Bad and Dangerous – are also among the world’s best-selling records
27. He popularised dance moves including the robot and the moonwalk
28. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice
29. He won 13 Grammy Awards
30. Billie Jean was the first video by a black artist to air on MTV.
31. Jackson owns the rights to the South Carolina State Anthem, South Carolina on My Mind.
32. He has waxworks in five Madame Tussauds museums across the world. Only Elvis Presley and Madonna have more.
33. He has sold more than 300 million records worldwide
34. His favourite superhero is Morph from X-Men
35. He had a pet ram called Mr Tibbs
36. His total lifetime earnings from music are estimated at $500 million
37. Jackson regularly wore a black armband to remind people of children suffering around the world.
38. The moonwalk was picked up from street dancers
39. Little Richard wanted to be played by Jackson in a biopic
40. Jackson had a pet python called Crusher
41. In 1984 a French fan committed suicide because he couldn’t have surgery to look like Jackson
42. The video for Scream was the most expensive ever at £3.8 million.
43. A library once accused the singer of owing $1 million in overdue book fines
44. Jackson was a vegetarian
45. He won an MTV award for Best Movie Song in 1994. It was for Will You Be There from the movie Free Willy
46. HIStory was the biggest selling double album ever released in the United States
47. Jackson was given a royal title in the Ivory Coast in 1992
48. Before concerts he would drink Ricola candy dissolved in hot water
49. His birthplace Gary, Indiana, is planning a museum in his honour
50. The singer patented a shoe device that allowed dancers to lean forward at gravity defying angles
51. He was a best man at Liza Minnelli’s wedding to David Gest
52. The largest television audience in US history watched him perform at half time during the 1993 Super Bowl
53. Martin Scorcese once directed a Jackson video
54. A survey in 1997 declared him the Most Famous Person in the World
55. He paid $1.5 million in 1999 to buy for the 1939 Oscar for best film won by Gone With The Wind
56. Jackson once described Elizabeth Taylor as “a warm cuddly blanket that I love to snuggle up to”
57. He recorded a voice-over on The Simpsons
58. Macauley Culkin is godfather to two of Jackson’s children
59. Jackson co-wrote We Are The World with Lionel Richie
60. He is godfather to Nicole Richie
61. He is also godfather to Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb’s son Michael
62. Jackson shares a birthday with Sir Richard Attenborough and actress Rebecca DeMornay
63. At the time of his death Jackson was rehearsing for his greatest comeback, with 50 shows scheduled in London
64. He was four years old when he began singing with his brothers Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito in the Jackson 5
65. The Jackson 5’s number one hits included “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There”
66. In 2002 Jackson caused controversy when he playfully dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin in front of fans
67. MC Hammer once challenged Jackson to a dance off
68. In a TV documentary he acknowledged sharing his bed with children but described the practice as sweet, and not sexual
69. During production of a 1984 Pepsi advertisement Jackson sustained burns when an explosion set his hair on fire
70. Jackson’s 13 number one hits on the US Billboard charts put him behind only Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey
71. Jackson’s father Joseph worked in a steel mill
72. Joseph Jackson and his brother Luther were in an R&B band called The Falcons
73. Michael was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness by his mother
74. In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey the singer spoke of a traumatic childhood including suffering from loneliness
75. Jackson showed his singing talent at the age of five when he performed at a Christmas recital
76. The family band was originally called the Jackson Brothers
77. Michael was promoted to joint lead vocals at the age of eight and the band became the Jackson 5
78. They toured extensively in the US Midwest from 1966 to 1968
79. He initially used his eccentricities to promote his music but strongly disliked the “Wacko Jacko” nickname
80. Wild stories about him included that he slept in an oxygen chamber and that he bought the bones of The Elephant Man.
81. During the world tour for Bad he performed to 4.4 million people
82. His first autobiography, Moon Walk, took four years to complete
83. The book reached the top of The New York Times best sellers’ list
84. Jackson admitted to having had two nose jobs
85. He suggested weight loss and a strict vegetarian diet had contributed to the change in his appearance
86. He paid $17 million in 1988 for the land in California that became the Neverland Ranch
87. The 2,700-acre property had a theme park, a menagerie, and a movie theatre.
88. Its grounds were protected by a security staff of 40
89. Neverland was valued at $100 million in 2003
90. The profits from his single “Man in the Mirror” went to charity
91. In 1991 he signed a contract with Sony worth $65 million
92. In 1992 he founded the Heal the World Foundation which brought underprivileged children to Neverland and made donations worldwide
93. When he visited the African country of Gabon 100,000 people turned out to see him
94. Jackson’s most famous pet was Bubbles the chimpanzee
95. Bubbles was adopted at the age of three from a cancer research clinic in Texas.
96. Bubbles sat in on recording sessions for the Bad album and accompanied Jackson to Tokyo
97. The artist Jeff Koons made a series of sculptures of Jackson and Bubbles
98. Jackson fathered two children with Deborah Jeanne Rowe – Michael Joseph Jackson Junior (also known as “Prince”) and a daughter, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson
99. The couple divorced in 1999 and Rowe gave full custody rights to Jackson
100. Vitiligo, the skin disease from which he suffered, affects 1 to 2 per cent to 2 per cent of the population


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