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People Top 5
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- February 28, 1994
- Vol. 41
- No. 8
One Big Unhappy Family
Despite a Feel-Good TV Reunion, the Jacksons Have Made Trouble Their Trademark
It will also be the first time Michael has performed since he abruptly quit his Dangerous tour last November and grappled with charges that he had sexually abused a 13-year-old boy. "There are many trials and tribulations that my family has been through," says brother Jermaine, "but it's most important for the show to take place, not because of what happened to Michael, but because we never lost focus. We are doing this to help the needy, unfortunate people out there."
It has also been a time when the public was reminded that Michael, Janet and LaToya aren't the only Jacksons. Gleaned from friends, associates and family biographies, here is a pocket guide to this extraordinary family.
The iron-willed patriarch who engineered the family's musical success, Joe has a weakness for women and dubious business deals. In 1988 he was ordered to pay out $3 million to a partner who sued him over an unsuccessful real estate venture. His record of failed investments led Michael to cut him in on merchandise sales from the Bad tour.
Romantic life: Married Katherine in 1949. His infidelities prompted Katherine to file for divorce in 1973—but she later changed her mind. The next year, Joe's mistress Cheryl Terrell gave birth to daughter Joh'Vonnie Jackson, now 19.
Career low: In 1968, Joe signed a Motown contract—without reading it—that gave the company ironclad control over everything recorded by the Jackson 5, a move that cost the family millions. Michael fired his father as manager in 1983.
How bad is he? LaToya claims that he abused her and terrorized her brothers, often pointing guns at the kids to get their attention. On the Oprah special last year, Michael admitted his father had beaten him.
Memorable quote: "The problems all developed after the children turned 18 and started making decisions on their own."
Kattie B. Scruse Jackson, 63
Shy and quiet, Katherine, a childhood polio victim, used a brace and crutches until she was 16. She endured multiple surgeries and still limps. A devout Jehovah's Witness, she was baptized in 1963 in a swimming pool in Gary, Ind.
Family lore: In 1980, with children Randy and Janet, Katherine marched into Joe's office, grabbed his assistant, Gina Sprague—whom they believed was also his lover—and according to a police report filed by Sprague, Kate announced, "Bitch, you better leave my husband alone!" She then beat Sprague, who was later treated at a local hospital.
Money matters: Michael, according to Jamie Foster Brown, publisher of Sister 2 Sister magazine, gave his mother $7 million last year.
Rebbie (pronounced Ree-bie), despite having a fine singing voice, first shunned a performing career. "With me, God's first, family second and career third," she has said.
Romantic life: Rebbie married a fellow Jehovah's Witness, driving instructor Nathaniel Brown, in 1968 and has three children.
Employment: She finally joined the family onstage in the mid-'70s and released Centipede, her debut album (title track by Michael), in 1984. She is a board member of Jackson Communications Inc., which she calls "a conglomerate of entertainment, restaurant and motion picture companies."
Fun fact: Recently returned from a triumphant solo tour of Rumania.
Sigmund Esco, 42
The best athlete in the family, Jackie was drafted, at 19, by the Chicago While Sox but decided to concentrate on music. He hangs with the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Reggie Jackson.
Romantic life: Married once; three children. While married to Enid, Jackie reportedly had a torrid eight-year affair with pop-songstress Paula Abdul, which she has denied. Enid once caught Jackie and Abdul in the backseat of his Range Rover at the Sepulveda Drive-In in Van Nuys, Calif.
Family lore: Michael and Janet would bike to Jackie's Encino home so they could celebrate Christmas. (As Jehovah's Witnesses, their parents forbade presents.)
Fun fact: Only Jackson who hasn't had plastic surgery.
Employment: Owns a production company.
Tariano Adaryl, 40
Tito looked after his younger brothers and he even changed baby Randy's diapers.
Romantic life: Divorced. His sons Taj, 20. Taryll. 18. and T.J., 15, have formed a group called the Three Ts.
Family lore: During the early '60s the Jackson boys would secretly play their father's guitar but were found out after Tito broke a string. Furious, Joe demanded a demonstration—and discovered that his sons had real talent.
Rap sheet: In 1973,19-year-old Tito was arrested for receiving stolen property. Police said that one of Tito's pals had used a passkey to break into 50 Los Angeles-area apartments, but the charges against Tito were eventually dropped.
Employment: JCI board member and manager of his sons group.
Jermaine LaJaune, 39
Jermaine was the original lead singer of the Jackson 5—before Michael—and the group's self-styled stud. Family lore: Though all the Jackson boys shared a single hotel suite on tour, Jermaine would regularly sneak groupies into the room to have sex while young Michael and Marlon pretended to be asleep.
Romantic life: Married Hazel Gordy, the daughter of Motown mogul Berry Gordy Jr., in 1973; they had three children. In 1986, Jermaine had a son with his mistress Margaret Maldonado, whom he later wed. After a second child, they are no longer together.
He's bad: In 1988 ex-wife Hazel accused him of attempted rape while he was visiting his children, then decided not to press charges.
On his own: Out of loyally to his father-in-law, Jermaine refused to join his brothers when they left Motown in 1975. But the Jacksons reunited in 1983 at the Motown 25th-anniversarv special, at which Jermaine joined Michael singing "I'll Be There." His 1980 Let's Get Serious sold over a million copies.
Memorable quote: The original version of his 1991 single "Word to the Badd!!!"—leaked to some radio stations—contained an ill-disguised attack on Michael: "Once you were made/ You changed your shade/ Was your color wrong?/ Could not turn back/It's a known fact/ You were too far gone."
Fun fact: While at Motown, Jermaine played weekly air-hockey matches with Stevie Wonder—and usually lost.
Employment: Head of Jackson Communications Inc.
LaToya Yvonne, 37
LaToya is the family's fallen angel. Living at home till she was 33, she was her mother's best friend—until her 1991 autobiography, in which she claimed she had been abused by her father. She also alienated the family by posing nude for Playboy in 1989. Says Jermaine: "For me to see my sister on the cover of Playboy showing her butt and stuff, something's wrong." LaToya once accused her family of trying to have her kidnapped in order to keep her in the Jackson fold.
Romantic life: At 33, to assert her independence, married Jack Gordon, a felon convicted of trying to bribe the Nevada Gaming Commission chairman. The marriage, both insist, has not been consummated, and Gordon recently said the relationship "was never meant to be." Last April he beat up LaToya. but she blamed it on radiation he was undergoing for lung cancer. He says she provoked him.
Money matters: The IRS had a half-million-dollar judgment against her until six months ago, says Ernie Rizzo, a private detective who worked for the alleged victim in Michael's child-abuse case. "Michael paid it all off," says Rizzo, "and she still said he was a pedophile."
Marlon David, 36
Next to Michael, Marlon was considered the cutest Jackson as a child. "I'm very quiet," he has said. "I'm the mystery man. No one knows that much about me."
Family lore: Sings off-key, has two left feel. According to LaToya, Katherine once told her, "Marlon can't sing. Why doesn't he just hang it up? He has no talent."
Romantic life: Married; three children.
Employment: Heads animation division of JCI. He also sells real estate in San Diego.
Finances: In 1990, to ease his financial problems, Marlon held an auction, offering up his Jackson 5 gold records and Victory Tour attire, his Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard championship rings and assorted oil paintings and marble statues.
Michael Joseph, 35
As a child, Michael's father gave him the nickname Bignose. He was closest to LaToya—until she began to move away from the family. His crotch-grabbing videos, LaToya has said, were to gel back at Joe for his strict, upbringing.
Family lore: "Tito, Jackie and Randy were talking about what it was like growing up," says Jamie Foster. "They talked about how their father used to try and whip Michael, and when the strap would come down, Michael was so fast that he would miss him."
Family lore II: "Every time Michael would see his family," a friend says, "as soon as he finished kissing everyone, he would wash his face and hands. He was very germaphobic."
Steven Randall, 32
Of all the Jacksons, Randy is perhaps the best-trained musician. He is a pianist who enjoys playing Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Chopin. He is also a computer whiz.
Romantic life: Divorced, three children.
Family lore: While visiting a friend in Colombia in March 1993, Randy was kidnapped by leftist guerrillas but let go after eight hours when he convinced them he was actually a poor Jamaican evangelist.
Badness: In 1990, Randy pleaded no contest to charges of beating his wife, Eliza Shaffy Jackson, 28, and their 14-month old daughter, Steveanna, and was put on probation.
Employment: Working on solo album; started a computer company.
Janet Damita, 27
Janet may be the most un-Jacksonian member of the family. She exudes self-reliance and stability, and like Michael she is a success in her own right. Her 1991 $40 million contract with Virgin Records made her among the highest-paid female pop stars. However, as a child, she was a chubby tomboy who always felt inferior in looks lo LaToya. Michael nicknamed her Dunk because of her size. "You look like a donkey, you're so big," he said. She's only recently shed her baby fat with the help of a 900-calorie-a-day diet. A strict vegetarian, she works out for an hour and forty minutes a day, six days a week.
Family lore: As the youngest child, Janet was spoiled (Joe relaxed the "no presents" rule for her) and had a relatively normal childhood. "Janet was raised differently than the others," says Cynthia Home, editor of Right On. "She could go to school and see her friends and play." She says Joe never abused her. She later broke free from her father's management and assumed responsibility for her career. I'm in control of my own destiny," she has said. "I'm the person who controls my career and life."
Romantic life: Shares homes in L.A., San Diego and Malibu with longtime love Rene Elizondo, 30, who also directs her videos.
Hidden Talent: Played abused child Penny on Good Times. Also had roles on Diff'rent Strokes and Fame.
Personal low: A first marriage to singer James DeBarge at 18 was annulled after less than a year.
Memorable quote: "I have experienced a great deal of pain in my life, beyond what anyone can imagine," she has said. " 'It's made me a much stronger person."
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