Today is the five-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, but passing away hasn’t stalled the singer’s career. Reports indicate the King of Pop has made $700 million since his death.
In addition to milestone record sales and iconic dance moves, Jackson generated his share of memorable moments offstage. Many people know about his California home Neverland Ranch, complete with an on-site amusement park, as well as his infamous 2005 trial but there were plenty of moments from the singer’s 45-year career that have been forgotten about.
Here are ten moments from Michael Jackson’s career that you may have forgotten:
When Jackson’s pet chimpanzee Bubbles became a minor celebrity
Purchased in the early 1980s from a Texas research facility, Jackson’s cherished pet chimp Bubbles attained a level of celebrity on par with Courtney Stodden by being a frequent travel companion to the singer. Jacko even brought Bubbles to Japan during the 1987 Bad World Tour. Since Jackson’s death, allegations of animal abuse have surfaced but as of this year, the 30-year-old chimp was living in a Florida facility.
The time when Jackson invented and patented anti-gravity boots
As we’ll see later in this list, Jackson was one of the great innovators in music video history. If people’s minds were blown when Jackson debuted the moonwalk dance move in 1983, they were picking their jaws off the floor after seeing his anti-gravity lean during the video for 1988’s “Smooth Criminal.” The move was pulled off with help from a pair of special shoes that were co-invented and patented by Jackson himself. The patent, filed four years after the video, describes the shoes as a “Method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion.”
That time Jackson’s hair caught fire while shooting a Pepsi commercial
Likely the most famous incident on this list, the injuries Jackson suffered while shooting a 1983 Pepsi advertisement were revisited during a 2013 wrongful-death trial. Witnesses that were on the set when the singer’s hair caught fire testified to the intensity of Jackson’s burns, allegedly leading to his subsequent painkiller addiction. Video captured on the set, released by US Weekly, showed the accident in graphic detail.
When Jackson starred in a Disney theme park attraction directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Of Jackson’s numerous filmed projects, 1986’s “Captain EO” may be the most bombastic. Only Disney could bring Jackson together with Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola and executive producer George Lucas for a sci-fi adventure that would be shown at the company’s theme parks for years following. Jacko starred as the titular hero, who saves the universe by singing and dancing for an evil Queen, played by Anjelica Huston. The film was resurrected at Disney parks in 2010, following Jackson’s death.
The time Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in a “Wizard of Oz” adaptation
Another time Jackson worked with an Oscar-winning director was when he starred in 1978’s “The Wiz,” based on L. Frank Baum’s classic novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Despite co-starring Diana Ross and Richard Pryor, the movie was a box office flop -- however it did earn four Oscar nominations.
The time Jackson was very naked with then-wife Lisa Marie Presley in a music video
Jacko’s 1994 track “You Are Not Alone” holds a Guinness World Record as the first song ever to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart but it’s music video is a whole other story. Featuring Jackson and his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley in near-nude scenes of passion on an exotic set, the clip makes for an extremely uncomfortable watch. Viewers will be relieved to know director Wayne Isham’s shoot originally included some fully nude takes of the King of Pop that were left on the cutting room floor, according to the New York Daily News.
When Jackson guest-starred on “The Simpsons” as a hulking, yet gentle, mental patient
Back in 1991, Jacko was flying high on the success of his eighth album “Dangerous,” meanwhile FOX’s cartoon sitcom “The Simpsons” was just starting its third season. Jackson was one of the first big-name celebrities to do a guest voice on the show when he appeared as Leon Kompowsky, a patient at the mental hospital where Homer Simpson is admitted. The only problem? Jackson’s contract prohibited him from singing in the episode, so the show’s producers recruited a soundalike to perform the episode's musical number, “Happy Birthday Lisa.”
When Jackson’s “Billie Jean” broke MTV’s color barrier
While it may be difficult to imagine, when MTV first started in 1981, the channel didn’t embrace black artists. In fact, they didn’t really play them at all, as they considered themselves strictly a rock channel. According to New York Magazine, MTV’s co-founder Bob Pittman began frantically searching for videos from black artists after claims of racism were thrown at the young cable channel. In 1983, the video for Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean” went into rotation, effectively breaking MTV’s color barrier.
The time Jackson and his sister made what is still the most expensive music video ever produced
In 1995, Jacko’s stock had slipped to an all-time low thanks to accusations of child sexual abuse. When the singer and his little sister Janet Jackson recorded their aggressive hit “Scream,” the anger was palpable. The track’s futuristic music video still stands as the most expensive ever made, with a price tag of about $7 million, according to Business Insider.
The time Jackson starred in his own video game
If there’s one thing to gather from this list, it’s that Michael Jackson was an innovator in just about every medium of entertainment. In 1989, as home video game consoles were on the verge of becoming mainstream, Jacko offered his likeness to Sega to create an action game. “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker” is pure kitsch today but a milestone in video game marketing, as few celebrities of Jackson’s stature had backed the burgeoning fad. A dance game starring the singer was released following his death but “Moonwalker” remains a hot seller on eBay.
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