Oprah Winfrey came to the Jackson compound to ask a lot of questions, and when it was over, plenty of questions remained unasked.
As it happens, that’s always the case where the singing, dancing Jackson clan is concerned. Indeed, it would take a month of ‘Oprah Winfrey’ shows just to plumb the many mysteries of the late Michael Jackson himself, much less sort out how all the other members of this sprawling family fit into the picture.
But if you watched Monday’s ‘Oprah Winfrey Show,’ you were able to pick up a few things you might not have known previously about the Jacksons from Oprah’s exclusive interviews – conducted at the Jackson estate in Encino, Calif., known as Hayvenhurst – with matriarch Katherine Jackson (for most of the hour), husband Joe Jackson, Michael’s kids – Prince Michael, Paris and “Blanket” – and a gaggle of cousins.
Here’s what we learned:
No Nose Is Bad News: Katherine told Oprah she objected when Michael began undergoing the serial nose jobs that drastically slenderized his proboscis over the years. To her, his nose looked like “a toothpick,” Katherine confided.
A Mother Mourns: “Sometimes during the day I can hear his laughter,” Katherine shared – and when she said it, we who were watching could hear it too. Naturally, she’s still devastated by the sudden death of Michael – the eighth of her nine children. That terrible day – June 25, 2009 – she says, “was the worst day of my life.”
Dance Track: When Michael was just starting to walk at around age 1 or thereabouts, Katherine swears she saw him dancing to the thumping beat that emanated from the family’s washing machine in their Gary, Indiana, home.
Lord Of Discipline: Oprah got Joe Jackson to admit he beat his kids with “a strap,” but Joe defended his resort to corporal punishment, crediting his hard discipline with keeping all of his nine children in line and out of jail.
Chef Michael’s Specialty Was French Toast: That’s the testimony of Michael’s daughter, Paris, 12, who told Oprah her late father was the world’s best dad. She and older brother Prince Michael, 13, each remembered quiet times alone with their father, drinking Cokes and eating Snicker bars. Eight-year-old Blanket (real name: Prince Michael Jackson II) remained largely silent.
Perhaps given more time, Oprah may have asked the following:
What are all you cousins doing here?: About a half-dozen of them – teens mostly, and evidently the offspring of various Jackson siblings – all stood around while Oprah interviewed Michael’s children. One of them claimed they all live at Hayvenhurst, begging the question: Why? Don’t you kids have parents?
Blanket, how do you feel about being called… Blanket?: Michael’s nickname for his youngest son has long been a subject of curiosity. Alas, maybe Oprah thought Blanket was too young to question him about his name. If so, she was probably right because, well, she’s Oprah.
And Oprah’s farewell season juggernaut continues. Monday it was this exclusive sit-down with the Jacksons. On Tuesday, it’s another famous family – former President George W. Bush and his parents, at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Me. And come Wednesday, Oprah gathers a gaggle of talk-show hosts with whom she long competed but eventually outlasted – Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera, Montel Williams, Sally Jessy Raphael and Ricki Lake. It’s good to be the queen, isn’t it?