||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
|Born||Kattie B. Screws
May 4, 1930
Barbour County, Alabama, U.S.
|Children||10, See below|
|Parents||Martha Bridges (1907–1990)
Prince Albert Scruse (1907–1997)
Katherine was born Kattie B. Jackson in Barbour County, Alabama, to Martha (née Upshaw; December 14, 1907 – April 25, 1990) and Prince Albert Screws (October 16, 1907 – January 21, 1997). When Katherine was four, her father changed his surname to "Scruse", and renamed his daughter to Katherine Esther. The younger of two daughters, Katherine contracted polio at two but survived the disease. Effects of the disease left her with a noticeable permanent limp. At four, Katherine's family moved to East Chicago, Indiana, a suburb outside Chicago and next to Gary, Indiana in northwest Indiana. As a child, Katherine aspired to become a country singer but was dismayed to find that there were no notable black country stars. Katherine's parents divorced when Katherine was still a youngster. In high school, Katherine joined the local high school band. In 1947, Katherine met Joseph Jackson also living in East Chicago. After a year-long courtship that started after Jackson annulled an early marriage, they married in November 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a two-bedroom house in Gary. During the couple's early years, they sang together with Joe playing guitar. After Joe's dream of a boxing career was dashed, he continued working at East Chicago's Inland Steel Company while Katherine gave birth to her ten children. (Marlon's twin brother, Brandon, died shortly after birth).
The Jackson family
For a period, to help make ends meet, Katherine worked as a store clerk in a local Sears store. In 1963, Katherine, who was raised a Baptist, discovered the Jehovah's Witness faith. After her conversion in 1965, all of her children followed her into the faith. While Joe Jackson, who was brought up in the Lutheran faith, also practiced the religion, it was often said he decided not to convert. As Katherine's brood grew, she quit her position at Sears and settled primarily as a housewife while keeping her children safe from the streets. By the early 1960s, several of Katherine's sons began to show off their musical talents. In 1963, Joe Jackson formed The Jackson Brothers with three of their eldest sons Jackie, Tito and Jermaine. Around the same time, Katherine's younger son Michael was also showing off his talent, which was discovered first by Katherine, who noticed Michael, at the age of four, singing along to the radio while dancing to the rhythm. But when she tried to tell Joe of Michael's talent, he brushed her aside, though she insisted.
A year later, Joe enlisted Michael and older brother Marlon Jackson into the group not as vocalists, but as backing instrumentalists, playing percussion. It wouldn't be until 1966 that Joe Jackson began to see seven-year-old Michael's overall talents three years after Katherine's discovery. Beforehand, Michael had performed onstage without his father's knowledge at several school recitals starting at five. By the end of 1966, Michael was positioned as the second frontman of the group after Jermaine. Acting on advice from a schoolteacher, Joe changed the group's name to The Jackson Five. In 1967, after winning several talent shows in Gary, Joe Jackson decided to make the group a professional act when Gordon Keith the owner and producer at Gary's Steeltown Records discovered them, signing them to their first contract in November 1967. Their first single, "Big Boy", produced by Keith, was released on January 30, 1968 and became a local hit. Katherine began designing the group's costumes, which she continued until the group found national fame months after signing with Motown Records in March 1969. During the Jackson 5's 1970-71 heyday, Katherine - along with her three daughters and youngest son - was barely mentioned in the press. This changed in 1974 when Joe began building careers around his three younger children and eldest daughter. Michael often mentioned Katherine lovingly. Katherine started to become part of her husband's management team when the grown-up members of the group (which renamed themselves The Jacksons after splitting from Motown in 1975) reunited for the Victory Tour in 1984. On his 1982 album, Thriller, Michael Jackson dedicated the album to her. Janet Jackson would do the same following the release of her 1989 album, Rhythm Nation 1814, the first album where she wasn't under the watchful eye of her father following the success of Control, as Janet had fired him months after its release. Michael often said that his mother was appreciative of his solo music and approved of songs such as "Billie Jean" but said she was cautious of Michael's mature material, including "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough". In 1985, acknowledging what was then a positive impact on her children's successful music careers, national urban magazine Essence honored her as "Mother of the Year".
In 1990, Jackson released her autobiography, My Family, which documented her early years and her relationship with her husband and their children, eight of whom wrote salutes to their mother in the book's foreword. She detailed that her husband on more than a few occasions had committed adultery, one of which resulted in the birth of a daughter named Joh'Vonnie Jackson with another woman named Cheryl Terrell on August 30, 1974.
In an unauthorized biography of Janet Jackson, a confrontational family incident was described. This biography claims that, in 1979, Jackson and her two youngest children, Randy and Janet, confronted a woman who worked for Joseph's company, whom Katherine had often reportedly accused of cheating with Joseph. That incident was re-dramatized for the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. However in the miniseries, Katherine was shown confronting Joseph instead of the woman about the alleged incident.
In the late 1980s, Katherine began experiencing an estrangement with her daughter La Toya after she was being managed by Jack Gordon. In her 1991 memoirs, La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family, La Toya alleged that Katherine was emotionally abusive, charges Katherine denied to the press and blamed Gordon, who married La Toya in 1989, for "brainwashing" her. In 1997, La Toya and Katherine reconciled after she filed for divorce from Gordon.
Jackson has spent the last couple of decades talking to the press defending her children, mainly Michael, who began to gain notoriety for his eccentricities. In a recent interview promoting her Michael Jackson Story Book/DVD on The Oprah Winfrey Show, however, Jackson acknowledged that Michael was addicted to plastic surgery and also got her husband to admit to physically disciplining their children. Over the years, it had been acknowledged by some that Joe Jackson was abusive towards his children, which he has continually denied despite admissions by both La Toya and Michael. Jackson splits her time between Las Vegas and her Hayvenhurst home in Encino. She is estranged from Joe Jackson, although still married to him, and the two are almost always interviewed together, sometimes with or without their children.
Death of Michael Jackson
On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died after suffering a drug induced cardiac arrest. Katherine Jackson, along with the rest of the family, attended his memorial which was held on July 7, 2009. On June 29, 2009, Katherine was granted temporary guardianship of Michael's three children. Court documents indicated that she was also seeking control over the three children's interests in their late father's estate. Although Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of the two eldest children and Michael's second wife, had not seen or interacted with the children for years, as of July 4, 2009, she petitioned the courts for custody of her children. As of July 30, 2009, Jackson and Debbie Rowe reached a settlement pertaining to the care of Michael's three children, Prince Michael I ("Prince"), Paris Katherine and Prince Michael II, ("Blanket"), will be raised by Katherine; Rowe will have visitation rights and continue to receive the yearly payments to which Michael had agreed.
On August 3, 2009, the judge named Katherine Jackson as the children's permanent guardian. On July 25, 2012, Katherine's guardianship of the children was suspended by the court amid allegations that she may have been held against her will by several Jackson family members as a result of a financial dispute between those family members and the Michael Jackson Estate. Guardianship of the children was temporarily given to Michael Jackson’s nephew TJ Jackson, one of Tito's sons. The guardianship resumed with TJ Jackson added as a co-guardian.
Ten children were born to Katherine and Joe Jackson.
- Maureen Reillette "Rebbie" Jackson (born May 29, 1950)
- Sigmund Esco "Jackie" Jackson (born May 4, 1951)
- Toriano Adaryll "Tito" Jackson (born October 15, 1953)
- Jermaine La Jaune Jacksun (born December 11, 1954)
- La Toya Yvonne Jackson (born May 29, 1956)
- Marlon David Jackson (born March 12, 1957)
- Brandon Jackson (March 12, 1957 – March 12, 1957)
- Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)
- Steven Randall "Randy" Jackson (born October 29, 1961)
- Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966)
- Jackson, Katherine; Rich Wiseman (1990). My Family, the Jacksons. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-92350-3.
- Gina Serpe (Mon., Nov. 8, 2010 11:00 am PST). "Michael Jackson's Kids, Parents Join Oprah: Talk Plastic Surgery, Beatings and…French Toast?". eonline.com.
- Daily Mail Reporter (2009-06-29). "Michael Jackson's mother wins temporary custody of his three children". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
- "Katherine Jackson loses custody of MJ’s kids". 26 July 2012.
- "Judge suspends Katherine Jackson as guardian of Michael Jackson's children". CNN News. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Duke, Alan (2). "Katherine Jackson resumes guardianship of Michael Jackson's children". CNN. Retrieved 3 October 2013.