What do we really know about this kid? He can sing. He can dance. He's rich—almost $70 million, by the latest estimate—and getting richer every day. He loves Disney World, hates to talk to the press. He's crazy about kids, doesn't much trust grown-ups. (One of his all-time favorite adults is Thomas Edison, whom he calls "my man.") From this we might infer a case of terminally delayed adolescence. We would be wrong. Michael handles his own affairs the way he handles Emmanuel Lewis: carefully and with great concern for future growth. Here's a fact: From market studies conducted by ad agencies, we know that Michael's fans worry about his health and happiness. He's too thin, they say, and he doesn't smile enough. Where's the fun? What's the point of having all that money and talent if life is just a series of obligations? Well, don't worry. Michael has his own ideas of what's fun and of how to get away (on a Honda ATC, right, at Caribou Ranch in Colorado)—from anything but the camera, which, as the photos on the next few pages will attest, clearly loves him.

Michael (filming a video with members of the Detroit Police Department) is a cop freak. Before a Madison Square Garden concert, he shook hands with some of the officers assigned to protect him. "I wish I had more time to spend with you," he told them. "It must be exciting to be a policeman."

Artfully arranged by the star on a dressing table in his Montreal hotel room are a few of Michael's favorite things: a picture of the Three Stooges (top); a snapshot of and letter from a fan (bottom left); a scepter; assorted antique pins, medals and photos; his makeup kit, cream foundation, tape and scissors (right); his sunglasses, onstage belt and offstage tie, and, of course, the glove.

The fans make you, and they can break you, but there are times when it's nice to go where even your most ardent admirers cannot follow. After the Denver concerts, Michael spent a week in Nederland, Colo. climbing every mountain (the highest: 10,000 feet) on the 75,000-acre Caribou Ranch of his friend Jim Guercio, who was once producer of the rock group Chicago.

A man of many conveyances, Michael is joined by his cook, Mani Khalsa, for a tour of Caribou Ranch, shares a laugh with Disney World's carousel horses and flies the friendly skies of Orlando, Fla. in a hot-air balloon. As the balloon soared, Michael broke into a chorus of Up, Up, and Away and later helped collect a handful of fruit from the top of an orange tree.