A Special Gift For Michael Jackson’s Fans on The Third Anniversary of His Tragic Death
In honor of the third anniversary of Michael Jackson’s tragic death, I wanted to give fans an opportunity to smile, laugh, and have some joy on what is otherwise a very dark and gloomy day. So here is the complete episode of Oprah that aired on February 10th, 1993 (but taped a few days prior) where many of Michael Jackson’s friends were interviewed, and they explained and defended him, and humanized him as well.
Most fans have not seen this episode, and Oprah did not even acknowledge this episode in September 2009 when she aired her “tribute” to Michael Jackson. There are a lot of great quotes about Jackson, and me and my partner LunaJo67 made sure that those quotes “stand out”, so to speak! When you watch the videos below, you’ll know what I mean!
Elizabeth Taylor and Brooke Shields were interviewed in Part 1:
Oprah: He’s Bad, he’s Dangerous, and he is a Thriller! Tonight I’m interviewing Michael Jackson, who’s speaking publically for the first time in many, many years. Let me tell you how all of this came about:
I had asked him several times earlier last year would he be part of an interview, not that I really asked him, we wrote a letter, and then we didn’t get a letter back, and we didn’t hear anything for months. And then one day I was in my house and the phone rang, and I picked up the phone and said “Hello?”, and he said “Ho Oprah, this is Michael”, “Michael who? Michael?”, and he said “This is Michael Jackson!”. “Michael Jackson?!!” I said, “This is Michael Jackson?” I put down the phone and ran in the other room where the executive producer Debbie was, who was over at my house, and I said “Debbie, Debbie! Michael Jackson’s on the phone! Michael Jackson! It’s him! It really is him!” So I go back to the phone and go “Hi Michael! How are you?”
And ever since then we’ve been setting up this interview. Things have been so busy around here. A few weeks ago I arranged to make a commercial with Michael, so I flew out to his California ranch, I did, I was really excited. I couldn’t decide, because you’re gonna meet Michael Jackson, what are you gonna wear? So I had this whole big thing in the hotel room, “Should I wear this, or should I wear that?” So my staff and I tried to pick out the right outfit; “Should I wear the red jacket? Or the black suit? Or the glitzy gown? Or just kind of a casual sweater?” I finally made up my mind, and we left our hotel room with some clothes on my back, and headed for Michael’s ranch, where we shot a TV commercial. And shooting this was not nearly as glamorous as you might think; Michael had to stand like a statue for hours while I smiled myself away. It took us all day to finish this commercial.
So everybody has their favorite Michael Jackson moments, and one of mine is this flashback back in 1984. I was the host of a local morning talkshow, I think it was called “A.M. Chicago”, and all my guests were Michael Jackson lookalikes, I called them Michael Jackson wannabes, trying to outdo each other with their best impersonations. Don’t ask me who I thought I was, I even tried to do a little Michael Jackson thang, oh my, somebody should have told me. Anyway, tonight I talk to Michael Jackson himself, live, and everyone keeps asking me, like this morning I left my building and the guys who were working on the building they said “Hey Oprah, when are you gonna talk to Michael?”, and I said “Tonight! Live! It’s Live!” But today, we gathered together some of his best celebrity friends to talk about the man who hasn’t talked about himself publicly in years. Later on we’re going to hear from Brooke Shields, and Dick Clark, and Motown legends Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight, among others.
But first up is the living legend who just happens to be one of Michael’s closest friends; she even got married at his Estate. Elizabeth Taylor joins us on the phone. Hi Liz!
Elizabeth Taylor: Hi Oprah!
Oprah: Great to have you talking to us about Michael. You probably know him better I think than anybody, would you say?
Elizabeth Taylor: Well, we’re so close, we’re like soul…. We’re like joined at the hip. And I can tell Michael anything and know that it would be private and confidential and stay with him forever. And I know he feels the same way about me. Oh by the way Oprah….
Elizabeth Taylor: I would love when I’m up at the ranch, when you’re doing the filming, I’m going to be there to hold Michael’s hand, and hold your hand, and I want to see the Michael Jackson (inaudible)
Oprah: I look forward to seeing you there, I look forward to seeing you there that night, because Michael had said, from the beginning, that he wanted you to be there, not necessarily for the interview, but to be there for support for him. Do you think that it’s good that he’s doing this tonight?
Elizabeth Taylor: Well, I do, and I’m one of the people who talked him into it. I trust you, and I know that there is such a vulnerability and a sensitivity about Michael that people don’t understand is that he can be very hurt by the press.
Oprah: Why do you think that he is so misunderstood?
Elizabeth Taylor: Because he doesn’t try and explain himself. He just lets things ride and doesn’t fight it.
Oprah: Do you think, Elizabeth, that you all are such close friends because you had similar missed childhoods growing up in the eyes of the public?
Elizabeth Taylor: Oh I feel that has a great deal to do with it. Being child stars, missing out on all of the normal things that people growing up go through.
Oprah: What is it you want the world to know most about him?
Elizabeth Taylor: What a good man he is, how generous he is, how real and sincere he is, with all of the GARBAGE that is written about him that makes ME so angry! But I did think that it was time for him to set some of the things straight, on the record.
Oprah: Well, that’s what we intend to do tonight, to set some things straight. And I’ll see you tonight!
Elizabeth Taylor: Ok, that’s great!
Oprah: Thank you, Elizabeth Taylor! Michael Jackson gave her a ring, and she says they have crushes on each other. Brooke Shields talks about her feelings for Michael right after this, we’ll be right back. Thanks Elizabeth, thank you again!
Oprah: Whenever my next guest appeared at Michael’s side, she was the envy of all of his female fans, especially when rumors broke out that they were a really hot item. Brooke Shields joins us by the crackling fire via satellite. Great to talk to you Brooke, how are you doing?
Brooke Shields: I’m doing fine, thank you.
Oprah: What makes Michael such a good friend, do you think?
Brooke Shields: Well, I think that his sensitivity, his honesty. As a friend, I’ve known him for so many years…
Oprah: How many years?
Brooke Shields: almost more importantly than anything…..We were both about….I was 14, I think? I think because we both grew up the same business, and we had similar upbringings, in the sense that we were, we had to begin in this business at a very young age. We learned a sense of….we had defense mechanisms that we had built up. And I think that once we had met each other, we didn’t really have to be weary of one another. And that enabled us to build a friendship on a very different level.
Oprah: The unfortunate nasty comments and criticisms about him, do they upset you? Do they make you angry?
Brooke Shields: They upset me constantly; I’m constantly upset by what people say. First of all, granted you take everything with a grain of salt, and there are many things said about me that are unkind that I don’t find pleasurable, but so many people don’t know him, and they don’t give him a chance, they’re so ready to criticize. And I think what happens is when you see a genius, and when you see a talent that is just unstoppable and untouchable, the first reaction that people have is to criticize it. Because it scares them, it threatens them, in order to augment their own self-worth they feel that they have to belittle him. And he’s a sensitive human being, and all of the negativity, it does affect him and it hurts him.
Oprah: Ok, so I want to know what the real deal is Brooke between the two of you. Could you just tell me, and I’m not asking about now, but were you kind of like, let’s see, what’s the word, was there romance going on? Were you guys romantically involved? Was there ever an exchange of, you know, rings or anything?
Brooke Shields: Well, actually, I think right now we’re closer now than we ever were. I think we love each other more now than we ever knew we did when we were younger.
Brooke Shields: Because we had fun when we were younger, and we were sort of a source of relief.
Oprah: This is the question: did you have a crush on him? Or did he have a crush on you?
Brooke Shields: I think we both have a crush, and still do. I think part of having crush on someone is admiring them, almost, we have a lot of fun together. It’s almost unfortunate that we know each other so well. I mean, he amazes me every time I sit down and talk to him….
Oprah: Does he feel more like a brother more than a boyfriend, though?
Brooke Shields: It’s hard to say, I mean, I find that it’s love on a different level. I feel closer to him than some of the boyfriends that I’ve had. I mean, I feel more relaxed around him, and more comfortable with him. It’s sort of, I mean, I’ve never really had a brother, there is part of that, but it’s like a love on a very different level, and it’s hard to really explain. And whenever I’ve tried to explain it to people it’s been misinterpreted. And it’s a shame because it hurts him too because he feels that people misinterpret the way that we feel about each other. And he did, he gave me the most incredibly beautiful ring that you can ever imagine, and of course people blew that out of proportion and said that we were engaged, and really it wasn’t about that, it was a friendship ring, and when he gave it to me it was the most adorable thing. We hadn’t really exchanged gifts before, and…
Oprah: are you wearing it right now?
Brooke Shields: No, I’m not, because I’m working now.
Brooke Shields: I know, I’m sorry! That’ll be it’s own show, Oprah!
Oprah: Well as you know he’s doing his first interview tonight, what advice do you have for him? And what do you think of him doing this interview? Do you think this is good?
Brooke Shields: I think it’s good because I think that people need to hear him speak, and think that they will only be more warmed by his presence, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. I think a lot of what happens is that people have no understanding, they have no real concept of who he is. They see him professionally and they have no idea who is personally. Now, granted, that’s his prerogative, I think it’s fine when people don’t want to speak out in public when they don’t feel like it. But I think it can only help him, because the people who already love him will love him more, and those that don’t think they love him will just come away loving him. I mean, my advice to him, which I’ve even told him personally, is to just be himself. I mean, that’s what people are going to love.
Oprah: I think you’re right. Thank you Brooke! Just a few days ago we caught up with Dick Clark, who has some definite opinions about Michael Jackson.
Dick Clark: Michael Jackson is his own man. He is determined. He’s probably driven. When he wants to do something, he does it, and he does it to perfection. I’ve had a strange relationship with him over the years because I’m one of the few people who has said “No! I’m not going to do that!” I teased him like one of my kids. I treat him like he is my fourth child. I love him. I like him, I protect him, but I will say “No” to him on occasion. I don’t care if he’s a star. He is, but he doesn’t need me to say that. He’s my friend. He came over to dinner one night and I said “Michael, things are going great, but I’m worried about you. You’re getting more and more inward, you’re getting so reclusive. Why don’t you get out? You love going to Disneyland. Get a fat suit.” And he said “What’s a fat suit?” And he did get out in the public. And it’s so hard for people who get to be so popular. They can’t go to the hardware store….. I used to run into him at the ice cream store in Encino, and those were the good old days, and I want him to get some of that back.
Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Suzanne DePasse, and Iman were interviewed in Part 2:
Oprah: Next, Motown legends who knew about Michael from the very start tell about the boy wonder who grew up to be the world’s biggest superstar. Joining me now are some of Michael’s celebrity friends who’ve seen him grow from child prodigy to the biggest star he is, in the world. Legendary singer Smokey Robinson. And Smokey says he remembers a young Michael that was talented beyond his years, like an old soul trapped in the body of a boy.
And my next guest produced this smash miniseries, and was responsible for grooming them for superstardom. So producer Suzanne DePasse convinced Berry Gordy, and the rest is history. And now meet the music superstar when she first heard little Michael Jackson sing when he was a young boy almost 25 years ago. Please welcome Gladys Knight! Gladys has said she is not singing so sit down! So do you remember the first time that he ever saw him?
Gladys Knight: Yeah, I do.
I thought he was so magnificent. You know, its……I don’t know, I felt something from this group of young kids.
Oprah: So what did you do?
Well, let’s clear this up Oprah, OK!
Oprah: Let’s clear it up!
Let’s clear this up once and for all! Joe Jackson and Katherine were very into their children. And they were struggling, trying to get these young men introduced into the entertainment world. Joe had come by, and he would bring them by the theater every single day, and we were there for a week. They were sitting in the dressing room, Michael’s little legs dangling off the sofa, and Joe had come to us, and the Pips were really more familiar with the guys than I was, and they had been talking about them for the longest time. So I said “Well, hey, let me see what I can do.” So I went, and we were with Motown at the time, and I went and I called the company, and I asked them if they could send a representative out to see these young kids because they were performing on the talent show that Wednesday night. And I didn’t carry a whole lot of weight at the company at that time, OK? And they said “Well, we’ll do the best we can. We’ll see what we can do.”
Oprah: Ok, so who took them in, now, because I’m just now hearing that Gladys is the person who started all of this because all these years we heard that Diana Ross saw them and discovered them. Where did you come in Suzanne?
I was with Motown, I had been with them for about fourteen days, and was living in an apartment building where another artist at the company named Bobby Taylor lived. And he called me because he knew I worked in Berry Gordy’s office and told me “You’ve got to come here and see something in my apartment!” And I said “Yeah, right Bobby! I’m really coming to your apartment!” So he said “Really, come down!” And I went down to his apartment, and there, sort of stretched out along the living room floor, were Michael and his brothers, and Joe, and a couple of other people who were with them at the time. And I was like curious, and Bobby clapped his hands and said “Okay boys, get up, let’s sing!” and Michael and his brothers got up, and they sang a cappella, and it really blew me away, I mean, it’s so stunning to think about this little eight year old boy looking up at me, and saying “Can I have some candy?” to being this icon on stage at the Super Bowl, and all of the things in between.
Smokey Robinson: as Suzanne said, at the Super Bowl, man he was like the Super Bowl to me, because I was very disappointed with the game!
Oprah: Well, one of the things that I intend to ask him about Suzanne, and you can give us some insight on this, if it was so clear that he was the superstar of the group, did that bring about resentment with the other brothers? I know the party line has always been “Everyone just loved everybody else”, but when there is one child, one sibling who is obviously outstanding in a group like this, did it cause tension with the other brothers?
Well, not at first. At first, it was all about making it together, and being a group, and part of what I think their impact was, when they first came out, was there was somebody of an age for almost all of the girls!
Oprah: Yes, yes, Suzanne, let me stop you right here. For the longest time I wanted to marry Jackie Jackson. When they first started, that was my goal to marry Jackie Jackson! I think I was about 13 at the time. But yes, yes….
So in that regard, the newness of their celebrity, and the excitement that they shared, as siblings who loved each other was, for quite a while, OK, but as it wore on, it absolutely caused friction, and Michael got teased more, and there were ways that your older brothers can exact revenge that don’t necessarily have to do with what happens on stage.
Oprah: Michael really didn’t have a childhood, would you all agree?
Oprah: And what affect does not having a childhood have on you?
Well, it’s like he was never a child!
He never was!
He was always far beyond his years as far as his talent goes, so I can understand about him not really having a childhood…..I understand the fact that he didn’t have the time to play like a little boy and to do the things that little boys do because I think that everybody should have that. I don’t think that anybody should miss out on having a childhood.
His desire to play at a time when play was indicated was very intense, and he did love to draw cartoons, and watch TV, and he’s a big gossip you, know! He loves to gossip! I’ve never met anyone who loves to gossip more than Michael!
Oprah: Next up is the woman whose exotic look has embraced hundreds of magazine covers. Michael cast her as an Egyptian queen in his video “Remember The Time”; she’s supermodel Iman. Iman, what was your experience with him, the Michael Jackson, the icon, superstar?
Iman: I found him hilarious! Totally a prankster, and a very, very good kisser, I must add! For me, I could not resist to work with John Singleton, Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, and Magic Johnson, so there was no way that I was going to miss that opportunity. But I found that what was very enduring about him was he had a great sense of humor, and he could make anyone feel comfortable around him, so I didn’t understand what people were saying about Michael, that he wants to be alone and all that, I didn’t understand that. But what inspires me about Michael is that his humanitarian efforts. Somebody like me, whose come from Somalia, and just brought me to the fringe of what’s happening in that country. And as a humanitarian, we don’t have a better spokesperson for “Heal The World” like Michael Jackson. I’m shocked and inspired by him as a humanitarian. I cannot say more about Michael, about that man.
Amy Agajanian, Jeanne White, and several fans were interviewed about Jackson in Part 3:
Oprah: when I was at Michael’s ranch I met a young girl who really swept me off my feet. A girl whose best friend just happens to be Michael Jackson. Back in a moment!
Michael Jackson, as we’ve often heard, is often surrounded by children, and through the years he’s befriended young actors like Emmanuelle Lewis and Macaulay Culkin, but you don’t have to be a child star to get Michael’s attention. I first met my next guest when I went to Michael’s ranch a few weeks ago to shoot the promos. Her best friend happens to be the biggest superstar in the world, and the whole universe saw her by Michael’s side during his Super Bowl performance. Meet Amy! Amy, we’re glad to have you hear. On the day we were there shooting our promo Amy wanted us to finish so we could go out and play with Michael, isn’t that right?
Amy: (nods her head)
Oprah: What’s he really like, Amy?
Amy: He’s just like a kid. He wants to stay a kid but he grew up.
Oprah: Do you spend a lot of time with him?
Amy: When I go up there I spend almost most of my time with him playing.
Oprah: What do you play? (To audience, who is giggling behind her: She’s a child! Would y’all please!)
Amy: I play on his rides and we play hide-and-go-seek.
Oprah: And how did you meet him? We want to know so we can do the same thing.
Amy: Well I was doing a commercial with him. I was four and I didn’t know anything about him. And I went into his trailer and sat right up on his lap and he said to himself that he was going to be friends for life.
Oprah: The two of you?
Oprah: Now these are Amy’s parent’s here, and I was saying that day, and I saw all of you, and the whole family was there, stand up guys, they were all on the rides on the amusement park after the shoot.
So were you!
I was there too!
Oprah: And what did Amy say to me? She said “You’re not going to go on that grandma ride, are you?” Which is the Ferris wheel, which is about my speed. And I wanted to say to you do your kids know how lucky they are t be able to come up to Michael Jackson’s house and kind of hang out and have root beer floats?
You know in the beginning, Amy said she had no idea who Michael was, she was just four years old. He was just a nice guy that she met, and a friend. Our boys kind of knew who he was, and knew that he was a world famous singer, and he made you feel so at ease, and he was so fun to be with. And that’s just how we are, we’re just friends with him.
Oprah: I heard this the night I left, that you guys were going to Toys R Us and they were closing the store, and you were going to shop a lot. Is that true?
Oprah: Well, one of the things I intend to talk to Michael about tonight that is……one of the things that impressed me the most is when I went to the ranch, when we were shooting the commercial inside the theater there, inside the walls at Michael’s house there are beds for sick children. I was so moved by that because in order to build walls in the room with beds in them for sick children, you genuinely have to care about them.
My next guest is the mother of a young boy whose life and death struggle touched Michael Jackson’s heart. Young Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 and his hometown of Pocamo, Indiana grew into an outrage! Ryan was blocked from going to school; his family was forced to leave town.
I don’t think he should be here. If people with chicken pox and measles can’t come, why should he? When Ryan died in 1990, many celebrities turned out to pay homage to this unlikely hero in this battle against AIDS. Michael Jackson dedicated this song to his valiant young friend. Please welcome Ryan’s mother, Jeanne White . You know, oftentimes celebrities can attach themselves to a cause, and be interested for a moment, but you know that Michael’s feelings were quite different.
Jeanne White: I saw a very sincere Michael. It’s strange; after Ryan died, I asked Michael “What is it that connected you and Ryan?” And he said “Most people can’t get over the awe of who I am, and nobody can ever act normal around me. Ryan knew how I wanted to be treated because that’s how he wanted to be treated.” Ryan spent five days with Michael in 1990, right before his death. Ryan was so worried about being a burden to Michael. Because he could hardly walk, he was very ill.
Oprah: And he went up to the ranch?
Jeanne White: Yeah, Ryan went to the ranch and spent five days with him, and they did fun things, and the first night I said “What did you do?” and he said “We spent three hours watching Three Stooges movies!” Ryan loved comedy, and so does Michael. They went shopping and I said “Who drove?” and he said “Michael drove the Bentley.” And I said “Michael drove himself?” and he said “Yeah, me and Michael went shopping!”
Oprah: How are you handling it now? Are you doing OK?
Jeanne White: With Ryan’s death, it’s very, very hard. I have formed the Ryan White foundation, dealing with all kinds of adolescents, whether you have AIDS, whether you don’t have AIDS, whether your siblings have AIDS, so I keep active and doing the things that Ryan was doing and educating our young people about AIDS.
Oprah: That is great!
Grown women admit that when they reveal their fantasies about the man who thrills them, Michael Jackson. He’s bad. His fans agree that Michael Jackson isn’t only Bad, but wait until you hear what else they think!
Fans speaking about Michael Jackson:
23 years Michael Jackson has been in our life. 23 years. This is him!
This is the guy we feel in love with.
I fell in love with him and was planning my wedding at 9. Truly planning it. I was convinced that I would marry this man, and I’m still waiting.
You know, when I was 5 and 6, my girlfriend and I were Michael and Marlon’s
Would I marry him today? Absolutely! I still think I’m going to marry him.
I was so in love with Michael that the majority of my boyfriends’ names were Michael.
I wanted to be black! I literally wanted to be black because of Michael, so that I could marry Michael Jackson. I’m not trying to be prejudiced.
I started off very small. It started off with me lying and saying that I had met him after a concert, that my friend Lisa and I had met him after a concert. And the girl was so gullible that she believed it, and I just went with it and went with it, and for months I had her thinking that I was dating Michael Jackson. And for months she would call and I would go “Oh, he’s so sweet! I just got off the phone with Michael from California.”
I thought we would have lovely children each other, I thought that we would have made a nice couple. I was convinced!
Oprah: As we go to break, let’s take a look at another supermodel Naomi Campbell sharing the stage with Michael in this steamy music video, let’s take a look:
Don’t you love those photos of Liz? Everywhere I’ve gone that I’ve announced that I’m talking live to Michael Jackson, that’s LIVE again tonight, his first interview in many years, people are stopping me and begging me to ask him every question that you can imagine. So we sent some crews around the country to find out what America wants to know from Michael?
More questions for Michael from fans:
Hey Oprah, I want you to ask Michael how is he going to outdo himself now?
Can you ask Michael if he ever has time to be by himself?
Hi Oprah! I’d like you to ask Michael Jackson….
Does he have a girlfriend?
Does Michael Jackson ever intend on having any of his own children?
When is he going to get married?
Let him know if he has not decided…..
I think he’s exquisite! And I think love to look at him!
……that I am single!
I’d like to teach Michael some new steps!
How does he feel about his young sister’s success? Janet Jackson?
I’d like you to ask Michael who his inspiration is?
What prevents him from getting back in touch with his family?
Let him know I’m available! And I’ll catch you later.
Coming up, a look at some of Michael’s biggest hits! Back in a moment.
Oprah: It all started with a phone call, and tonight I’ll be talking with the biggest superstar in the world. Michael Jackson Live, who hasn’t done an interview in years. But tonight he’s chosen to talk to me live satellite from Sweden to Zimbabwe to New Zealand to Indonesia. That’s right, leave it to Michael Jackson not to do anything small, even his first interview, see it tonight, with Michael, live around the world!
For more information on Jackson’s relationships with Ryan White and the Agajanians, please read the following two posts:
The first post contains excerpts from Ryan White’s autobiography, and additional videos with his mother that she gave after Jackson died in 2009. (On a side note, here is a link to Joe Vogel’s article on the origins of “Gone Too Soon”, the song that Jackson dedicated to Ryan White.) The second post contains a stunning interview with JC Agajanian, the father of Amy. He vehemently defended Jackson in an interview shortly after Jackson died, and cleared up a lot of misconceptions that the media had spewed to the public over the years.
Here are some additional interviews with Elizabeth Taylor, Brooke Shields, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, and Suzanne DePasse, in which they shared their thoughts and memories of Michael Jackson after his death:
Rest in peace, Michael! Thank you for the memories!