Twenty years ago last week, Oprah's much-ballyhooed live interview with Michael Jackson hit the airwaves. The show features a tour of the Neverland amusement park; a mini-talent show in Michael's state-of-the-art movie theater; a reminder that the Jackson 5 had their own animated show; and an appearance by MJ intimate Liz Taylor, who appears, um, altered (and who has fabulously gigantic hair).
But after Oprah reveals that, as a kid, she wanted to marry Jackie Jackson (hee!), she questions the King of Pop closely on everything from his sister LaToya's tell-all to whether he's "spiritual."
The five juiciest moments:
1. Asked directly if his father "ever beat" him, Jackson said, "Yes. Yes, he did."
He described patriarch Joe Jackson as "very strict, very hard, very stern," and himself as "very frightened" of his father, to the point where he would "get sick." Michael then said he'd never talked about the physical abuse before, and looked right into the camera to apologize to Joe: "Please don't be mad at me."
2. Michael characterizes the persistent rumors that he slept in a hyperbaric chamber as "completely made up,"
getting quite agitated as he explains the famous picture. After getting burned in that infamous Pepsi commercial, Michael got a settlement, which he used to fund a burn center; while inspecting a piece of technology for burn victims (the chamber itself), he was photographed lying in it, and the guy who processed the picture sold it to the tabloids. (Oprah seems to buy the story, making sure to add that she's looked all over the house for it, and didn't find it. It doesn't seem to occur to her that household staff could hide it, but OK.)
3. Quizzed about the changes in his appearance, Michael is just as indignant. "I'm a black American, I'm proud to be a black American."
He sighs that "there is no such thing as skin bleaching" and claiming he has a skin disorder that destroys his skin's pigment. It's genetic, he adds, then snaps that nobody says anything about people who get tan to change their appearances. While you're trying to figure out what that has to do with anything, he goes on to say that he's had "very, very little" work done on his face, and that you can count his plastic surgeries on "two fingers." He owns the nose job, but whines, "So did a lot of other people I know."
(The real revelation here, in our opinion, is his answer to Oprah's asking if he's "pleased" with how he looks now. "I'm never pleased with anything," he says. "I try never to look in the mirror" because he won't be happy with what he sees.)
4. Michael talks a lot about kids.
"People wonder why I always have children around," he says. "I find what I didn't have [in my childhood] through them. He had no chances to play as a child, and no friends: "My brothers were my friends." It gets a little creepy when Oprah asks the camerapeople to get a shot of the pod-like rooms set into the walls of the movie theater, though; the rooms are bedrooms. Yes, the beds are hospital beds, and they're there for very ill children who can't sit up on their own, but given the myriad allegations Michael faced, it's not as heartwarming as it's made out to be.
5. Oprah asks him if he's a virgin.
Michael, tittering: "I'm a gentleman." Good for him for not answering, but the claim that he's dating and in love with Brooke Shields is not the most believable (most accounts have Michael Jackson involved with Lisa Marie Presley at this time).
You can watch the full video above for more on Michael wanting kids of his own, the Elephant-Man's-bones rumor, and a truly impressive beat-boxing demonstration at around minute 48.
Did you watch this interview when it aired? Does it seem sincere to you now, or just sad? Sound off in the comments.