On this day in 2009, Michael Jackson died at the age of 50 after suffering from cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of drugs given to him by his personal doctor. Here are 5 "thrilling" facts you probably didn't know about "The King of Pop"...
Jackson Did Not Invent The “Moonwalk”
The moonwalk became popular around the world following Michael Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean" on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. While Jackson may have perfected the move, he certainly did not invent it. The earliest footage that portrays someone doing something nearly identical to Jackson's fancy footwork belongs to dancer Bill Bailey who used the move in Showtime at the Apollo in 1955. Marcel Marceau, a French mime, used “Moonwalk” movements in his sketch when walking against the wind, and singer James Brown also made similar dance moves throughout his career. The great Cab Calloway even performed the move in films back in the early 1930s. In 1985, Calloway said that the move was called "The Buzz" when he and others performed it in the 1930s.
He Held a Patent For His Boots Jackson showcased some new dance moves in “Smooth Criminal,” including when he leaned forward at a 45-degree angle; the video used wires to achieve the effect. However, he wanted to use this dance move during his live performances, so he developed a shoe that would do the job. He and two other inventors placed a slot in the heel that used a peg that could be raised, which allowed the performer to lean forward. Jackson, along with his co-inventors, patented this invention.
Jackson Almost Scrapped the Video for “Thriller” Now, Thriller is quite possibly the most iconic music video to have ever graced our screens - but it nearly didn't make the cut. Michael demanded the whole thing to be scrapped when Jehovah's Witnesses threatened to banish him when they found out about the video idea. Michael Jackson later agreed for filming to continue but added a disclaimer at the start to say, "Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult."
Costumes Used for “Thriller” Came From a Surprising Place All of the costumes used for the zombies in the dazzling music video “Thriller” were purchased at the Salvation Army. Jackson’s costume was specially made for him, of course, and the jacket sold at auction for $1.8 million in 2011 to a rock and roll memorabilia collector. Deborah Nadoolman Landis designed the jacket for Jackson as well as the one worn by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Illusion of Hair Michael Jackson was a master of illusion. It infiltrated every aspect of his life, down to his hair. Known for well-coiffed locks, few fans knew that he wore a wig after his accident while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984 when his face and scalp were badly burned. To compensate for the damage, Jackson tattooed his hairline permanently on his scalp and had wigs attached to the sparse hair that remained after the pyrotechnics accident.