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Katherine Jackson

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For other people named Katherine Jackson, see Katherine Jackson (disambiguation).
Katherine Jackson
Born Kattie B. Screws
(1930-05-04) May 4, 1930 (age 86)
Clayton, Alabama, U.S.
Spouse(s) Joe Jackson (m. 1949)
Children 10, See below
Parent(s) Martha Bridges (1907–1990)
Prince Albert Scruse (1907–1997)
Relatives See Jackson family

Katherine Esther Jackson (née Kattie B. Screws; born May 4, 1930) is the matriarch of the Jackson family.

Early life[edit]

Jackson was born Kattie B. Screws in Clayton, Alabama to Martha (née Upshaw; December 14, 1907 – April 25, 1990) and Prince Albert Screws (October 16, 1907 – January 21, 1997). When Jackson was four, her father changed his surname to "Scruse", and renamed his daughter to Katherine Esther. The eldest of two daughters, Jackson contracted polio at two but survived the disease. Effects of the disease left her with a noticeable permanent limp.

At four, Jackson's family moved to East Chicago, Indiana, an industrial city in northwest Indiana near Chicago. As a child, Jackson aspired to become an actress or country singer, but was dismayed to find that there were no notable black country stars. Jackson's parents divorced when she was still a youngster. While attending Washington High School, Jackson joined the local high school band. In 1947, Jackson met Joseph Jackson also living in East Chicago. Joseph obtained an annulment of an earlier marriage and began dating Katherine. After a year-long courtship, they married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana. 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 nearby East Chicago's Inland Steel Company. From 1950 until 1966, Jackson gave birth to ten children, including a pair of twins, Marlon and Brandon, the latter of whom died a few hours after birth.

The Jackson family[edit]

Main articles: Jackson family and Jackson 5

In the late 1950s, Jackson began working part-time as a store clerk in a local Sears in Gary. In 1963, Jackson, who was raised a Baptist, became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. After her conversion in 1965, all of her children followed her into the faith. While Joe, who was brought up in the Lutheran faith, also practiced the religion, it was often said he decided not to convert. As Jackson's brood grew, she quit her position at Sears and settled primarily as a housewife, keeping her children closer to home. By the early 1960s, several of Jackson's sons began to show off their musical talents. In 1963, Joe formed The Jackson Brothers with three of their eldest sons, being Jackie, Tito and Jermaine. Around the same time, Jackson's younger son Michael was also showing off his talent, which was discovered first by Jackson, 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 began to see seven-year-old Michael's overall talents three years after Jackson'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 front man 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 an owner and vocalist at Gary's Steeltown Records, discovered and signed them to their first contract with him on November 21. Their first single, "Big Boy",[1] produced by Keith, was released on January 31, 1968.[2] "Big Boy" became a local hit, playing on radio stations in the Chicago-Gary area. Jackson 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, Jackson – 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 Jackson lovingly. Jackson 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 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".

My Family[edit]

In 1990, Jackson released her autobiography, My Family, The Jacksons,[3] 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.[3] She detailed that her husband on more than a few occasions had committed adultery. This prompted Katherine to file for divorce on March 9, 1973 at the Los Angeles County clerk but chose to rescind the divorce papers..[4]

The following year, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, Joe's daughter with another woman named Cheryl Terrell was born on August 30, 1974. This led Joe and Cheryl to a 25-year affair while raising their daughter, Joh'Vonnie .[3] Jackson attempted once again to divorce her husband in or around 1979, but again was persuaded to drop the action. Consequently, Katherine and Joe remained officially married.

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 Jackson 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, Jackson was shown confronting Joseph instead of the woman about the alleged incident.

In the late 1980s, Jackson 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 Jackson was emotionally abusive, charges Jackson denied to the press and blamed Gordon, who married La Toya in 1989, for "brainwashing" her. In 1997, La Toya and Jackson reconciled after she filed for divorce from Gordon.

Jackson was portrayed by Angela Bassett in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Patricia Idlette portrayed her in the 2004 film Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story.

Recent years[edit]

Jackson has spent the last couple of decades talking to the press defending her children, mainly Michael, who began to gain notoriety. In a recent interview promoting her Michael Jackson vip Book/DVD on The Oprah Winfrey Show, however, Jackson acknowledged that got her husband to admit to physically disciplining their children.[5] Over the years, it had been acknowledged by some that Joe was abusive towards his children, which he has continually denied despite admissions by both La Toya and Michael.[citation needed]

Jackson currently resides with the 3 children of her late son, Michael Jackson and with her grandson TJ Jackson, along with his family at her Calabasas, California, home in which she has been living since 2011. Jackson had moved out of her Hayvenhurst home in Encino, California due to house renovations.[6][7]

Despite rumours that she is estranged from Joe, she has denied it and dismissed rumours that Joe was banned from The Jackson family home as something the media tried to cook up and false.[8][9][10] According to her son Jermaine Jackson's 2011 book (You Are Not Alone: Michael Through a Brother's Eyes), Jackson had told Michael that she was nearing the age of 80 and before she died, she wanted to see her sons perform together one last time. One of Michael Jackson's future plans as part of his deal with AEG Live was a final reunion tour with his brothers. She most recently appeared at the BET Awards 2015 with daughter Janet Jackson as Janet accepted the Ultimate Icon Award.

Death of Michael Jackson[edit]

On June 25, 2009, Michael died from an overdose of propofol at the hands of his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Jackson, along with the rest of her family, attended his memorial on July 7, 2009. On June 29, 2009, Jackson was granted temporary guardianship of Michael's three children: Prince, Paris, and Blanket.[11] Court documents indicated that she was also seeking control over the three children's interests in their late father's estate.[11] Although Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of Michael's two oldest children, had not seen or interacted with the children for years; as of July 4, 2009, she petitioned the courts for custody of her children. On July 30, 2009, Jackson and Debbie Rowe reached a settlement pertaining to the care of Michael's children – Prince, Paris, and 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 Jackson as the children's permanent guardian. On July 25, 2012, Jackson'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.[12] Guardianship of the children was temporarily given to Michael's nephew TJ Jackson, one of Tito's sons.[13] The guardianship resumed with TJ Jackson added as a co-guardian.[14] [15]


10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters were born to Katherine and Joe Jackson.[3]


  1. ^ Big Boy, 40th Anniversary
  2. ^ [1] 45 RPM Records
  3. ^ a b c d Jackson, Katherine; Rich Wiseman (1990). My Family, the Jacksons. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-92350-3. 
  4. ^ Friedman, Roger (29 October 2004). "Jacko's Family Secrets Revealed". Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  5. ^ Gina Serpe (8 November 2010). "Michael Jackson's Kids, Parents Join Oprah: Talk Plastic Surgery, Beatings and...French Toast?". 
  6. ^ Taylor, Candace (20 June 2014). "Michael Jackson's Estate Buys in Calabasas for $10.75 Million". Retrieved 24 October 2016 – via Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ David, Mark (27 March 2011). "Kathryn Jackson Takes Her Grandbabies to Calabasas". Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Katherine Jackson Speaks To Geraldo Rivera 8/2/09". 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  9. ^ CNN, By Alan Duke,. "Michael Jackson's mom talks about motherhood, family". Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Daily Mail Reporter (2009-06-29). "Michael Jackson's mother wins temporary custody of his three children". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  12. ^ "Katherine Jackson loses custody of MJ's kids". 26 July 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  13. ^ "Judge suspends Katherine Jackson as guardian of Michael Jackson's children". 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  14. ^ Duke, Alan (2 August 2012). "Katherine Jackson resumes guardianship of Michael Jackson's children". Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Autopsy Report for Michael Jackson" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-20.