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The Talented but Tragic Life of Michael Jackson

Fans mourn the death of ''the King of Pop'' in Los Angeles at age 50. Next month he was supposed to start a comeback tour in London. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.


Fans around the world are remembering the man who called himself the King of Pop. Michael Jackson died Thursday in Los Angeles.

This was the emergency call from the house where he was living:

CALLER: "We have a gentleman here that needs help and he's not breathing. He's not breathing and we're trying to pump him but he's not -- "

OPERATOR: "OK, OK. How old is he?"

CALLER: "He's fifty years old, sir."

OPERATOR: "Fifty, OK."

A personal doctor was with him at the house.

Michael Jackson would have celebrated his fifty-first birthday in August. He was just days from launching what he hoped would be a comeback -- a series of fifty concerts in London.

More than seven hundred fifty thousand tickets sold out within hours of going on sale in March. The shows were set to begin July thirteenth. There were questions, though, about whether his health could handle the extended tour.

And after he died there were more questions -- this time about his use of painkillers. Medical examiners did an autopsy on Friday, but tests for drugs in the body normally take weeks.

Around the world, fans like this one reacted to news of his death.

WOMAN: "Somebody like Michael Jackson who's done so much for the world and stuff, you think almost like he's invincible."


"Thriller," his nineteen eighty-two album, earned a place in Guinness World Records as the best selling album of all time. It produced hits like "Beat It" and "Billie Jean."


Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children. He was five years old when he and his brothers began performing in the Jackson 5.

He was eleven when they had their first album. "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5" was released in nineteen sixty-nine. Their album "ABC" followed less than a year later.


In nineteen seventy-one, Michael Jackson began his solo career. He went on to sell an estimated seven hundred fifty million albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- twice.

But as talented and successful as he was, he was also deeply troubled. His behavior and appearance grew increasingly strange. He was heavily in debt.

He was childlike. But in nineteen ninety-three, a thirteen-year-old boy accused him of child molestation. The case was settled out of court. Later, another accusation led to a criminal trial. But four years ago this month a jury cleared him of all charges.

Michael Jackson left his mark on popular culture. His music, his videos. His dance moves and moonwalking. The hand in a sequined white glove. The father of three was even married for a time to Elvis Presley's daughter. Now, he leaves behind family, friends and fans to mourn his death. In a sad way he did make a comeback. His death has pushed sales of his music back to the top of the charts again.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by June Simms. I'm Steve Ember.