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Health and appearance of Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009) was an African-American[1] entertainer who spent over four decades in the public eye, first as a child star with the Jackson 5 and later as a solo artist. From the mid-1980s, Jackson's appearance began to change, triggering speculation in the media that he wanted to look more white.[2] He was diagnosed with the skin disorder vitiligo, which results in white patches on the skin and sensitivity to sunlight. To treat the condition, he used fair-colored makeup[3] and likely skin whitening prescription creams[4] to even out his skin. The lighter skin resulted in criticism that he was trying to appear white.[5] Jackson said he had not purposely bleached his skin and that he was not trying to be anything he was not.[6]

Jackson said he had been physically abused by his father, Joe Jackson.[7] In 2003, Joe admitted to whipping his children, but he emphatically rejected the other longstanding abuse allegations.[8][9]

During the 1990s, Jackson admitted he had become dependent on painkillers. The drug use was linked to burns he had suffered years before. Jackson gradually became dependent on these drugs. He went into rehabilitation in 1993.[10] While preparing for a series of London comeback concerts scheduled to begin in July 2009, Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009.[1] His personal physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in his death and sentenced to four years in prison.[11]

Skin diseases


Jackson contradicted media reports saying he was trying to look more white.[5] In 1993 Jackson revealed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was suffering from vitiligo,[12] a condition characterized by depigmentation of the skin occurring in patches.[13] The cause of vitiligo is unknown,[14] but it is believed to be due to genetic susceptibility triggered by an environmental factor such that an autoimmune disease occurs.[14][15] He said it had begun after the release of Thriller. By that time he hadn't known what it was. About skin bleaching he said: “There is no such thing as skin bleaching. I’ve never seen it.” Jackson said he would use make up to even it out.[12] A few days later Jackson's dermatologist, Arnold Klein, said he diagnosed Jackson with vitiligo in 1986.[16]

Jackson shielded from the sun by a black umbrella wearing a black shirt with long sleeves, black pants and sun glasses. The legs are not visible.
Jackson shielded from the sun by an umbrella in 2006

Winfrey's interview of Jackson was watched by 62 million Americans.[16] It also started a public discourse on the topic of vitiligo, then a relatively unknown condition.[3] Jackson was criticized for hiding the disease by bleaching and some even cast doubt on whether he suffered from vitiligo.[17]

In late 1993 Jackson’s skin disorder became relevant for the investigations into sexual child abuse accusations against him. A search warrant was served on Jackson allowing authorities to examine and photograph any part of the singer’s body including his private parts. Jackson said they supposedly looked for evidence of vitiligo. Media reports stated that the alleged victim had given the police a detailed description of Jackson’s body.[18]

Shortly after Jackson’s death, FDA-approved creams to treat vitiligo (Benoquin and hydroquinone) had been found in Jackson’s residence. The creams remove and lighten the remaining pigment.[2] Klein said in a TV show the vitiligo had become too severe to even it out with makeup and his skin had to be depigmented with creams. It remained stable but Jackson had to repeat the treatment from time to time. Klein said Jackson had been very devoted to treating vitiligo.[19] The treatment may be recommended for adults who have vitiligo on more than 50% of their bodies, to depigment the remaining pigment and make it the same color as the depigmented skin.[20] Darkening depigmented skin is extremely difficult.[21]Depigmentation causes a permanent and extreme sensitivity to the sun.[22] Vitiligo patients are at risk of contracting melanoma, and an annual cancer check-up is recommended.[23] Jackson also covered his skin disorder with clothing wearing long sleeves and long pants. In the music video for "Remember the Time", all dancers and actors except for Jackson are lightly dressed following the example set by ancient Egyptians.[24] Jackson usually avoided wearing patterned clothing to avoid drawing attention to the disorder.[25]: 40 

World Vitiligo Day is held on Jackson’s passing day. It was initially established to raise awareness for the autoimmune disease. The event is also dedicated to educate physicians and raise money for research.[26]


Jackson‘s dermatologist Arnold Klein said initially came to him for acne treatment. The physician recognized lupus on Jackson’s scalp at their first encounter. Klein did a biopsy and diagnosed Jackson with lupus erythematosus.[19]

Nose surgeries

Media reports state Jackson had extensive surgery on his nose.[27] Jackson wrote in his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk that he had two rhinoplasties.[28] Klein stated after the singer's death that he had rebuilt Jackson's nose because its cartilage had totally collapsed.[19]

In 2017 British broadcaster Sky canceled the airing of an episode of Urban Myths which cast Joseph Fiennes to portray Jackson with heavy white makeup and a constructed nose. The cancelation came after Jackson's family had expressed concerns in public.[29]

Physical health

Jackson is sitting at a table autographing a 'We Are The World'poster. He’s wearing sun glasses and a black jacket with a golden appliqué on the front and the cuffs. The zip is half open. Jackson is wearing a dark shirt under the jacket He’s looking straight into the camera. His skin is light brown.
Jackson in 1985

Burns and scalp surgery

In early 1984,[30] Jackson's hair caught fire during a commercial shoot. Jackson stated the fire was caused by sparks of magnesium flash bombs exploding only two feet away from either side of his head totally disregarding safety regulations.[31] Later that day the hospital announced that Jackson was in stable condition and doing well. A spokesman said the patient had suffered second-degree burns on his skull and would be transferred to Brotman Medical Center’s special burn unit.[30] Jackson said he had suffered third-degree burns on the back of his head that had almost gone through his skull. The singer said it had caused him a lot of problems.[32] In November 1993, Jackson announced the cancellation of the remaining Dangerous Tour due to an addiction to painkillers which had been prescribed after a recent constructive scalp surgery.[33]


In August 1993, two shows of Jackson's Dangerous Tour in Thailand had to be canceled due to dehydration.[34] Following these cancelations Coca-Cola, rival of Jackson‘s sponsor Pepsi, ran a controversial advertisement in Bangkok‘s English-language newspapers posing ‘Dehydrated? There‘s always a Coke‘.[35] On August 27, 1993, Jackson "returned to the concert stage".[36] A few days later Jackson complained of nausea and a severe headache.[34] His physician stated Jackson had suffered from migraine a few weeks before and that the dehydration might have intensed the migraine. Jackson underwent a MRI scan which was entirely normal.[37] A specialist confirmed Forecast's diagnosis of "late-onset migraine," and medication was prescribed for Jackson. [38] Jackson consumed a lot of water,[39] preventing dehydration[40] and voice problems.[41] In late 1995, Jackson was rushed to a hospital after collapsing during rehearsals for a televised performance. Medics cited irregular beats, gastro-intestinal inflammation, dehydration, and kidney and liver irregularities.[42] In June 2003 Jackson had been briefly hospitalized before a deposition in a copyright matter. A physician had stated the singer had been weak, dizzy and dehydrated. The singer had been treated with intravenous fluids and a tranquilizer. A lawyer for Jackson stated Jackson ‘sometimes became nervous and failed to eat when faced with depositions‘. An emergency physician and the singer’s personal physician had provided affidavits regarding Jackson’s health. The deposition was postponed.[43]

Orthopedic issues

In June 1990, Jackson was admitted to a Santa Monica hospital with chest pains.[44] According to Mark Zatzkis, "laboratory and X-ray tests of Jackson's heart and lungs revealed no abnormalities"; the pains "were caused by bruised ribs suffered during a vigorous dance practice".[45] The first concert in Santiago de Chile, scheduled for October 21, 1993, was canceled due to lumbar problems; two days later, Jackson performed at Estadio Nacional.[46] Another concert in Lima, Peru, scheduled for October 26, 1993, was canceled due to a torn muscle suffered during a show in Brazil.[47] Jackson suffered a back injury in July 1997 after one of the stages collapsed during a concert in Munich, Germany. However, the History Tour continued.[48] On March 10, 2005, Jackson appeared late in court after having received treatment in a hospital[49] due to a back problem.[50] During the trial, Jackson occasionally needed help to get to his seat.[51] On June 5, 2005, Jackson was taken to the emergency room at the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital to seek treatment of a back pain. Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, said "stress contributed to the back problem."[50]

Jackson is wearing a black velvet jacket with a crystal rhinestone metal appliqué in relief. It covers his right shoulder. Three lines of rhinestones cross his chest and gathering on the left side. The neck is unbuttoned. A rhine stone crown adorns the turned up collar. He’s looking down. His skin is light and he’s wearing makeup.
Jackson in 1997

Viral infections and voice problems

On March 12, 1988, Jackson canceled a show in St. Louis which was rescheduled to March 14; on March 13, Jackson performed in St. Louis although he was fighting a cold. The cold progressed to laryngitis; the show on March 14 was also canceled.[52] Three shows in Tacoma, scheduled from October 31 to November 2, 1988, had to be canceled on his physician's advice because Jackson had the flu.[53] Two shows in Los Angeles were canceled due to swollen vocal cords;[54] three shows in Los Angeles scheduled for November 20, 21 and 22 were also canceled; these five concerts were rescheduled for January 1989.[55] In August 1992, a concert in London, England had to be postponed due to a viral infection. Four days later, Jackson performed in Cardiff, Wales.[56] In September 1992, a concert in Gelsenkirchen, Germany was canceled because Jackson was ill with the flu.[57] In October 1992, a concert in Istanbul and another in Izmir, Turkey had to be canceled due to loss of voice caused by a cold.[58][59] His private doctor attended to Jackson in Istanbul. According to organizers, Jackson's "vocal cords were irritated."[60] These concerts were supposed to be the last three shows of the tour's European leg. Jackson was seen by a throat specialist in London and was advised to seek further treatment in Los Angeles.[58] People around Jackson took precautions to keep him healthy. One of the measures was that Jackson wore a surgical mask during air travel. Later he transformed it into a fashion accessory wearing a silk mask in black with jewel tones.[25]: 112, 115  On February 15, 2005 Jackson was admitted to Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria with "flu-like symptoms."[61] According to Chuck Merrill, Jackson was in stable condition and would recover within a few days.[62] Jackson left the hospital on February 16, 2005; Todd Bailey said Jackson "continued to need care for some persistent viral symptoms, but otherwise he was in good spirits."[61] One week later, the jury selection for the child molestation trial resumed in Jackson's presence.[63]

Dental issues

In 1993 several concerts in Mexico City were canceled due to tooth problems.[33] Two abscessed molars were pulled.[64]

Ambulance transport and hospitalizations

In 1992 an ambulance took Jackson back to his hotel after the show In Lausanne, Switzerland; another show in Basel was also canceled.[65] In 1999 Jackson was taken to a hospital with abrasions and bruises after a bridge, on which Jackson was standing during a charity concert in Munich, Germany, had been lowered too fast.[66]


In his final months Jackson was suffering from insomnia. Nurse Lee stated she spent one night in Jackson's residence to monitor his nighttime routine. Jackson went to bed listening to classical music and playing a computer game. That night Jackson slept only for three hours. He told Lee: “All I want is to be able to sleep. I want to be able to sleep eight hours. I know I’ll feel better the next day.”[67] Klein recalled Jackson couldn't sleep one night when he was on tour in Hawaii. Finally Klein and his office slept in Jackson's room.[19] One of his lawyers said Jackson suffered from sleeplessness when he was under pressure: ”He gets upset, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t eat, he can’t sleep. It gets to the point where he just can’t stand it. He is exhausted with this kind of thing.”[68]

Drug use


In November 1993, Jackson announced that he was dependent on painkillers; he said he had recently undergone a scalp surgery, and the painkillers had been prescribed. In a taped statement Jackson said: "The pressure resulting from these false allegations, coupled with the incredible energy necessary for me to perform, caused so much distress that it left me physically and emotionally exhausted. I became increasingly more dependent on the painkillers."[33] His lawyers said Jackson would be treated for dependency overseas for one and a half months to two months.[10] In December 1993, Jackson returned to the United States.[69]

Jackson’s dependency was questioned by the lawyer who represented the boy accusing Jackson of sexual abuse. In November 1993 two lawyers, who had seen Jackson a few days before he had canceled his tour, described their impressions in a sworn declaration. A plaintiff’s lawyer in a copyright matter stated he had been ”warned that the entertainer was taking painkillers because of recent oral surgery“ before questioning him. The lawyer stated he had seen ”no obvious effects of drug abuse“. One of Jackson’s lawyers stated she had seen him the day before and had concluded the singer had been ’unfit to give testimony’ but ’seemed to be doing much better’ the next day when he had given the deposition. Jackson’s lawyer said these swings had continued over the next few days. She said she had been ”deeply concerned“ about Jackson‘s health.[70]


Following Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, reports of his use of pethidine (Demerol) surfaced.[71] Cherilyn Lee, a nurse who provided nutritional counseling to Jackson, said that on April 12, 2009, he had asked her for unspecified "products for sleep". On April 19, 2009, he told her the only medicine that would help was propofol.[72] Lee refused, telling him, "Michael, the only problem with you taking this medication ... is you're going to take it and you're not going to wake up."[67] Jackson dismissed the warning, telling her he had been given the drug before and that he had been told it was safe.[73] After Jackson's death Lee said in an interview: “He wasn’t looking to get high or feel good and sedated from drugs. This was a person who was not on drugs. This was a person who was seeking help, desperately, to get some sleep, to get some rest.”[67]

In an interview with Aphrodite Jones, Patrick Treacy, a cosmetic surgeon who treated Jackson between July 2006 and early 2007, as well as shortly before his death, said that he would have known if Jackson would have been also treated by another physician and that he never saw any drugs in the house. He also said that Jackson did not have insomnia and never asked him for narcotics. Treacy said Jackson was in good physical health; he said Jackson always insisted on the presence of an anesthetist when Propofol was administered.[74]


There have been a lot of different rumors regarding Jackson’s sexuality. People wondered whether he was gay or straight. Some thought he was asexual.[75] In 1993 Oprah Winfrey asked the singer if he was a virgin. Jackson refused to answer saying that would be something very private. Winfrey later admitted that the question had been embarrassing.[76] Later that year Jackson was accused of having sexually abused a boy.[18] In 1994 Jackson married his first wife Lisa Marie Presley.[77] Presley said in an interview that the couple had sex.[78] In early 1996 Presley filed for divorce. At the end of that year Jackson announced that his longtime friend Debbie Rowe,[79] who had been working as a nurse for Jackson’s dermatologist,[19] was six months pregnant with his baby. The singer denied reports stating Rowe had been inseminated artificially. The couple married one week later.[79] Rowe is the mother of two of Jackson‘s children. Jackson later said that many single mothers have children and fathers should have the same opportunity. He said Rowe had wanted to do that for him as a present.[80] In late 1999 she filed for divorce.[81] Speculations whether they had sex or not continue.[19] Media reports state Jackson‘s third child was carried by a surrogate whose identity is unknown.[82] The singer said he had signed a contractual agreement not to talk about her.[83] In 2005 Jackson was acquitted on molesting a boy.[84]

Mental health


Jackson's physical changes attracted widespread media coverage and criticism from the public.[5] Some African-American psychologists argued that Jackson was a poor role model for black youth. Dennis Chestnut said Jackson had given "black youth a feeling that they can achieve", but might encourage them to believe they had to be esoteric and idiosyncratic to be successful. Halford Fairchild said Jackson and other African-American celebrities would try "to look more like white people in order to get in films and on television".[85] When Jackson was approached in 2003 about people thinking he was obsessed with cosmetic surgery because of his distressed childhood he replied: “Well, I know what’s inside my head. That’s all.“[86]

Black & white photo of Jackson as a chubby-cheeked teenager with afro hairstyle. He has a wide nose.
Jackson as a teenager in the 1970s
Jackson portrayed from the right side giving an autograph at night. His skin is light and he’s wearing a red shirt with long sleeves and a blue cap.
Jackson in 1988

In his interview in 1993 Jackson also talked about the impact the speculations about his skin color had on him. "It is something I cannot help," said Jackson. "When people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am, it hurts me. It's a problem for me. I can't control it. But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker, to become other than what they are. Nobody says nothing about that."[6] Jackson publicly said that he was proud to be black.[87] Jackson's paternity of his three children is questioned in public due to their light skin color.[88] The cosmetic surgeries are also regarded as an attempt to look white. Another theory says Jackson didn't want to look like his father. People close to Jackson say he didn't want to remove himself from the race.[89] Jackson said the acne had had a bad effect on his personality. He hadn't looked at people when he had been talking and hadn't wanted to go out. The singer stated he had learned to feel better about himself and things had changed.[90]


In his memoir Jackson described the relationship with his father Joe as “turbulent.” The singer stated he wouldn’t know his father Joseph and had never been able “to have a real closeness with him.” He said Joseph found it hard to relate to his children beyond family business.[91] He stated that he and his siblings had been physically abused by his father with a belt or a switch. Jackson said he had fought back and had hidden himself under tables.[92] In his 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey Jackson said there had been times when he had been so scared of his father that he would get sick and start to regurgitate when Joe had come to see him.[93] In 2003 his father admitted having whipped Jackson with a switch and a belt.[8] But he and Jackson's mother, Katherine, have disputed the longstanding allegations of abuse, with Katherine stating that while whipping is considered abuse today, it was a common way to discipline children at the time.[94][9] In a speech held at Oxford University in March 2001 Jackson said that his father had never shown him love. He said he had forgiven his father and encouraged parents to spend more time with their children.[95] Jackson stated that he wouldn’t have been so successful if Joseph hadn’t been as strong.[96] He said he was thankful that his father hadn’t tried to take his children’s money.[97]

Jackson also said he missed a lot of his childhood. He said it was hard to watch other children playing while he was working.[98] Jackson said that he loved to perform but admitted there had been times when he hadn't wanted to do it.[99]

Child abuse allegations

In November 1993 Jackson’s then lawyer Bertram Fields announced that his client would be treated for painkillers outside the U.S. He declined that Jackson wouldn’t come back because of the child molestation allegations. He said: "He's not in a position to cooperate with his attorneys now preparing his defense. He was barely able to function on an intellectual level."[10] Fields was criticized by others in Jackson’s team for portraying the singer as incompetent. Later he stated: ”It was important to tell the truth. [The boy’s lawyer] and the press took the position that Michael was trying to hide and that it was all a scam. But it wasn’t“. The lawyer resigned a few days later.[100] The week before Jackson had given two depositions in a copyright issue. One of the plaintiffs‘ lawyers said: ”[Jackson] didn’t look tired at all. It was not obvious to me he was suffering addiction or we wouldn't use the testimony“.[10]

Eccentric lifestyle

In September 1986 the National Enquirer reported Jackson would sleep in an oxygen chamber to turn 150. Later editor Nick Maier declared that the story wasn't true. He said a polaroid of Jackson lying in the chamber was provided by the singer's press representative. Maier added: “Many celebrities try to create a buzz around themselves. And Michael Jackson did exactly that. In the end, that backfired…“[75]


Jackson stated he used to cry from loneliness as a child starting at the age of eight or nine.[101] Jackson stated in his biography he had one of the most difficult periods in his life when he was making Off the Wall. He felt isolated having only very few close friends. He used to walk through his neighborhood hoping to meet somebody he could talk to and who might become a friend. ”Success definitely brings on loneliness“, he added. ”I’ve learned to cope better with these things and now I don’t get nearly as depressed as I used to“.[102]


Medical examination in February 2009

Due to an inquiry about a cancelation insurance for the upcoming tour, insurance carriers demanded a medical exam by a doctor they trusted. In February 2009, Jackson had an examination performed by David Slavit of New York. Later, the broker told an AEG senior vice president Jackson had only slight hay fever and had passed the exam "with flying colors". A second medical exam was supposed to take place on July 6, 2009.[103]

Health issues in June 2009

According to Lee, she received a frantic call on June 21, 2009, from an aide on Jackson's staff. The aide reported that Jackson was feeling ill. Lee reported overhearing Jackson complain that one side of his body was hot, the other side cold. She believed that somebody had given him something that affected his central nervous system. She advised the aide to take him to the hospital.[67]

June 25, 2009

The autopsy report states that Jackson called his primary physician, cardiologist Conrad Murray, at around 1 am on June 25, 2009, and complained of being dehydrated and being unable to sleep. Murray went to Jackson's residence and administered medical care. The details and extent of the medical care were unknown when the autopsy report was written. Jackson slept for several hours while Murray was at his bedside. He found Jackson not breathing at approximately 12 pm. He pulled him on the bedroom floor and began CPR. 911 was called and paramedics arrived at 12.26 pm. The paramedics continued CPR and ACLS protocol including two rounds of epinephrine and atropine. Jackson was intubated and the CPR efforts continued. Jackson remained unresponsive, his pupils were fixed and dilated. Jackson was transported to UCLA Medical Center under Murray's advisement who gave all medical orders throughout the transport. On arrival Jackson was asystolic. Central lines and an intra-aortic balloon pump were placed but Jackson remained without vital signs. Death was pronounced at 2.26 pm.[1]

Death investigation

Front of the small white wooden bungalow. The lower part consists of bricks. There’s a tree next to the house (right side). A narrow path is leading to the front door that is flanked by one window on each side. There’s a red step in front of the door. On the right lawn you can see a lot of flowers and fluffy toys. The house is cordoned off with a yellow line.
Jackson’s childhood home in July 2009

In the afternoon of June 25, 2009 Jackson's death was reported as an accidental versus natural death case to the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner by the LAPD. The coroner completed a body examination at the hospital in the late afternoon. Later that day the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department-Air Bureau transported Jackson's body to the Coroner's Forensic Science Center.[1]

Two days after Jackson had died Murray told the police that he had arrived at Jackson’s residence at 12:50 a.m. on June 25. He said doses of lorazepam and midazolam hadn’t put the singer to sleep throughout the night so he had given him 25 milligrams of propofol at around 10:40 a.m.[104] He stated that the propofol had been diluted with lidocaine.[105] Murray said he had administered the drug at Jackson’s request and the singer had slept. Murray stated at some point he had gone to the bathroom. When he had returned he had found the singer not breathing and had started CPR. Murray said he had given Jackson propofol ‘virtually every day‘ for a little more than two months. He said the entertainer had told him the drug would be the only thing that would help him sleep and that he had received it before. Murray stated he had feared Jackson had been becoming addicted. Three days before Jackson’s death he had begun to reduce the use of propofol and had relied more on lorazepam and midazolam with the singer’s reluctant cooperation. According to Murray Jackson hadn’t needed propofol in the night of June 23. However, the next night lorazepam and midazolam hadn’t helped Jackson sleep.[104]

On June 29, the coroner’s office issued a subpoena requesting all of Jackson’s medical records. Murray only handed over few documents referring to sporadic medical care he had provided since 2006 but no records referring to treatments in Jackson’s final months.[106] A few days later the DEA confirmed they had joined the investigations into Jackson’s death. A spokesperson said the agency would ”routinely offer assistance to any agency regarding the Federal Controlled Substance act“.[107]

Following Jackson's death, a police warrant issued against his attending physician, Conrad Murray, said that Jackson's many doctors had used nineteen distinct aliases while prescribing medications for Jackson.[108] Police found a CD mentioning the "Omar Arnold" alias when they raided the Las Vegas, Nevada home and office of Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician.[109] Use of pseudonyms by celebrities' doctors is common practice for maintaining the confidentiality of patients' medical history.[110]

Autopsy report

Jackson's death was caused by an acute propofol intoxication with a benzodiazepine effect being a contributory factor in the death. The coroner determined Jackson's death a homicide based on the following reasons: ”Circumstances indicate that propofol and the benzodiazepines were administered by another. The propofol was administered in a non-hospital setting without any appropriate medical indication. The standard of care for administering propofol was not met […]. Recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing, and resuscitation was not present. The circumstances do not support self-administration of propofol“.

Jackson's autopsy report states one scar beside each of his nostrils, one scar behind each of his ears, plus cosmetic tattoos on his eyebrows, around his eyes and lips. It also states a "dark discoloration resembling a tattoo on the anterior half of the scalp". Jackson was uncircumcised. The report confirmed that he had vitiligo and states a "focal depigmentation of the skin"[1] (i.e., the depigmentation occurs on one or a few areas of the body).[13] In Jackson's case, there were five affected areas. Two areas of his neck were found to have reduced (though not absent) melanocytes, the cells active in skin pigmentation. He had punctured wounds on his right neck, both arms,[H 1] both ankles and his right shoulder. Jackson suffered from degenerative osteoarthritis of the lower lumbar spine facet joints and the distal interphalangeal joints of the right index and long fingers as well as the left little finger. He also suffered from a chronic interstitial pneumonitis.[1]

Second autopsy

Jackson's family sought a second autopsy which was performed by a private pathologist on June 27, 2009. Reverend Jesse Jackson said the family had a lot of questions. Former medical examiners said it is not unusual for families to ask for a second autopsy because they either distrust officials or want a second opinion. A New York pathologist said the family would have the results within one or two weeks. It was estimated that the official results for the toxicology results for Jackson could take four to six weeks.[111]

Trial against Conrad Murray

In 2011 Murray was tried for involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors said [Murray]... “repeatedly acted with gross negligence, repeatedly denied appropriate care to his patient.” [105] Records showed that Murray had spent nearly 90 minutes on the phone in the hours before Jackson died making or receiving 11 phone calls.[112] Murray's attorneys argued that Jackson administered the fatal dose himself when the defendant wasn't in the bedroom.[113] Dr Christopher Rogers said in his testimony: “The theory that seems less reasonable to me is that Mr. Jackson woke up, and although he was under the influence of sedative medications, managed to give himself another dose.”[114]

Records showed that 911 had been called at 12.21 p.m.[115] Paramedic Richard Sennef testified that Murray didn't mention propofol when he asked him about Jackson's medications. According to Sennef Murray said: “No he’s not taking anything. I just gave him a little bit of Lorazepam to help him sleep.” Murray told Sennef he had treated Jackson for dehydration and exhaustion.[116] Paramedic Martin Blunt testified he saw three open vials of lidocaine on the floor of Jackson's bedroom when he and his colleague arrived. He said when his colleague had asked Murray what drugs Jackson had been given Murray didn't mention lidocaine. Blunt said when they prepared to transport Jackson to the hospital he saw Murray putting three bottles into a black bag.[117]

Jackson had arrived at the emergency room of UCLA Medical Center at 1.13 p.m.[118] Emergency doctor Richelle Cooper testified she first called death at 12:57 p.m. based on the information provided by the paramedics at Jackson's residence.[119] She said that Jackson had been “clinically dead” when he had arrived[120] Cooper said Murray had told her Jackson had regularly taken valium and flomax and that he had given Jackson 2 mg of lorazepam via IV. That dose had been followed by another dose. After the second dose, Jackson went into arrest.[117]

Murray asked doctors “not to give up easily.” Murray “looked devastated” and “sounded desperate.” Dr Thao Nguyen said she and her attending couldn't find a pulse. Murray said he had detected a pulse and the efforts continued. It was agreed if another attempt and resuscitation efforts with a balloon pump failed, then Jackson would be pronounced dead. After that final procedure, Jackson was pronounced dead. Dr. Nguyen said when she asked Murray if Jackson had taken any other sedatives or narcotics “his reply was negative.” Murray had also been unable to tell Nguyen when Jackson had stopped breathing.[121] Dr Cooper said: “Michael Jackson had died long before he became my patient. It is unlikely with that information [about the propofol] I could have done something that would have changed the outcome.” [122] Murray was sentenced to serve four years in prison.[11]

Dr. Rogers also confirmed that Jackson had vitiligo.[123] Jackson was 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) and weighed 136 lb (62 kg), which would be within a normal weight range, although he was thin, Rogers testified in court.[124] He also said that, in his opinion, Jackson “was healthier than the average person of his age” [114] and that the arteries around Jackson's heart were free of fat and cholesterol, which is unusual for a 50-year-old individual.[124] Toxicologist Dan Anderson testified that Demerol wasn't detected in Jackson's system. However, significant amounts of propofol, lidocaine, and lorazepam were present.[125] According to Nader Kamangar, a sleeping expert at UCLA, drugs such as demerol can cause insomnia. In the case of Jackson, insomnia could have been caused by “anxiety for performing” as well.[126]

Demerol injections

Murray’s legal team argued that Jackson’s insomnia had been caused by demerol and therefor he had needed propofol to get to sleep. Medical records showed that demerol had been administered to Jackson by his dermatologist.[127] An expert for the defense testified that insomnia and anxiety are side effects of demerol withdrawal. According to medical records Klein had given Jackson botox and restylane to treat wrinkles and excessive perspiration. The expert said the demerol shots were ’stiff doses’ that hadn‘t been needed for skin treatment injections.[128] Records presented by the defense showed that Jackson had visited Klein’s clinic at least 24 times between March 12 and June 22, 2009, receiving a total amount of 6,500 mg of demerol during those visits.[129] Murray said he hadn‘t known about the demerol shots. He said Jackson told him his insomnia was caused by “his creative mind always racing.”[130] The expert testified he believed there was evidence that Jackson had been dependent on demerol, “possibly” addicted. During cross-examination he said he probably wouldn’t diagnose Jackson as being addicted to demerol based strictly on the medical records.[127] The witness also said he wasn’t a board-certified addiction specialist.[128] Demerol hadn‘t been found in Jackson’s body at the autopsy.[127]

The theory established by the defense caused a discussion among experts whether propofol should be used to treat withdrawal symptoms.[130]


Jackson’s death and the trial against Murray started a public discussion about the use and dangers of propofol.[131][132] Media reports stated that the American Association of Nurse Anesthetics had warned hospitals three days prior to Jackson‘s death to restrict access to propofol because some medical professionals had become addicted to the drug.[133] Propofol became known as the ’Michael Jackson Drug’ among patients and many of them had reservations about it after Jackson’s death. These concerns decreased.[134][135]

Following Jackson’s death and increasing numbers of fatalities linked to the drug, the DEA stated they would consider labelling propofol a controlled substance.[136] In 2010 the agency recommended adding propofol to the List of Schedule IV drugs[137] but it was not successful.[138] In 2011, North Dakota classified propofol as a controlled substance.[139] North Dakota was joined by Alabama in 2012 and Georgia in 2016.[140] Also in 2011, Korea listed propofol as a psychotropic drug, making its use outside stipulated treatments illegal.[141]

In 2012, Missouri prison officials announced plans to use propofol for death executions. Pharmaceutical companies refused to provide propofol for such purposes.[142]


  1. ^ "Punctured arms" presumably describes hypodermic needle wounds, while making no effort to distinguish phlebotomy from injection from intravenous therapy, all of which involve hypodermic needles; nor does it distinguish whether hypodermic use was medical or non-medical, medically supervised or unsupervised.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Autopsy Report for Michael Jackson" (PDF). Retrieved March 12, 2014.
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Further reading

External links