Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey

On 10 February 1993 Michael Jackson went on television to be interviewed for the first time for 14 years. He spoke for 90 minutes to a woman who is about as famous as he is: Oprah Winfrey.

Talking to him at Neverland, she introduced him as “. . . the man who has broken every possible music record, denied interviews and defied definition for years. For nearly a quarter of a century, he has been an innovator of music, of dance, of videos, even fashion, and nothing he does is anything short of spectacular”.

Neverland, Michael Jackson's homeNeverland, Michael Jackson's home

Michael told Oprah about the childhood he never really had, when he was abused by his father and was often so lonely that he cried. He also told the world that it should not believe rumours that he bleached his skin to make him look like a white man, but that he suffered from vitiligo, a skin disorder that very few people had heard of at the time. Michael talked frankly about his skin colour, his relationships with Brooke Shields and Elizabeth Taylor, and a number of other matters, but when Oprah asked him if he was a virgin, he refused to give a straight answer.

90 million Americans watched the interview, which means it is among the most watched TV appearances of all time. This was not surprising, since both Oprah and Michael were well ahead of everyone else in their fields: she the queen of talk shows and he the king of pop. Both belonged to the same ethnic minority, and both had become very rich and very famous in spite of suffering terribly when they were children.


Which of these statements are true, and which are false? When you have identified the false ones, replace them with true ones.

  1. Michael Jackson is much more famous than Oprah Winfrey.
  2. She interviewed him for an hour and a half.
  3. When he was a child, Michael’s father comforted him because he was lonely.
  4. There were rumours about Michael Jackson’s skin.
  5. Most people knew something about vitiligo before the interview.
  6. Michael was very open about his feelings for Brooke Shields and Elizabeth Taylor.
  7. He was also frank about his sexual experiences.
  8. A TV audience of 90 million for a single programme in the USA is quite normal.
  9. Oprah and Michael had nothing in common.
  10. Oprah had a good childhood.

Activities for the links below

1) The first link is an article about Michael Jackson’s death and funeral. When you have read it, write answers to these questions in your own words:

  1. What cast a shadow over the last few years of Michael Jackson’s life?
  2. Why did the police investigate his death?
  3. What caused his death?
  4. How public was his funeral?
  5. What did the guests mentioned in the article have in common?
  6. Why was Conrad Murray the main suspect?
  7. What sort of people are buried at Forest Lawn?
  8. What security measures were taken at the funeral?

2) Now go to the second link and read the introductory section and the one headed “Interviews”. Then make a summary of what you have read in plain, simple English. Your product should be about 150 words long.