Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood

Ep 1111/29/2005

Michael Jackson's life is on the line in front a California judge. But no matter the outcome of his trial on child molestation charges, the gap between how the world views Michael and how he sees himself has never been wider. In this special, VH1 News explains how the beloved child entertainer became such a bizarre public figure.The answers lie in Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood. VH1 News has examined the singer's upbringing and found a life filled with abuse, hard labor, relentless ambition, and conflict between his religious upbringing and growing fame. Beginning with Jackson's birth in 1958 to the record-breaking success of his Thriller album in 1984, the special delves deep into Jackson's past, such as the mental and physical abuse he endured from his father, Joe Jackson (e.g., incessant rehearsals, whippings, calling Michael "big nose"); Joe exorcised his frustrations over his own failed musical career by exploiting his musically gifted children - especially Michael - by forcing them to perform in seedy bars and strip joints from Indiana to Ohio. At the same time, the proselytizing of his mother Katherine - a devout Jehovah's Witness - confused Michael about singing, sex and family secrets.This show opens the doors to the Jackson family homes in Gary, Indiana and Encino, CA, to uncover bizarre, never-before-seen home movies of Michael dancing with Emmanuel Lewis and cavorting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In exclusive interviews, viewers are introduced to Michael's first "little friend" the child actor Rodney Allen Rippey. Other interviews include former CBS Records music mogul Walter Yetnikoff, the man responsible for Michael pursuing a solo music career, but knew him since his childhood years as a member of the Jackson 5, Tatiana Thumbtzen, Michael's co-star from "The Way you Make Me Feel" video who tells her tale of unrequited love for the shy pop star, and Teresa J. Gonsalves, a childhood pen pal who got to see a side of Michael that very few were privileged to see. These people, along with celebrity family therapists, biographers and religion experts, all offer their theories about the man whose public antics have become a national obsession.

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