Birth: Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, said when he was born in 1958 that he had "a funny-looking head, big brown eyes, and long hands," biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli writes in Michael Jackson: The Magic & The Madness. Jackson retained his long, graceful hands throughout his life, and waved them fluidly, with a dancer's grace, to emphasize his points.
Amateur Night: He and his brothers competed at amateur night at New York City's Apollo Theater in 1967, and won.
Door to Door in Disguise: At the peak of his popularity, in 1984, Jackson went door-to-door to proselytize for the Jehovah's Witnesses, the church in which he was raised. One woman told Taraborrelli: "A young black man came to my door wearing what was obviously a phony mustache and beard, and a big hat. His face was too smooth for all that facial hair. He looked like a little boy playing grown-up." The next day one of her neighbors informed her that the Jehovah's Witness had been Michael Jackson.
The Hyperbaric Chamber: Jackson himself helped plant some of the wilder stories about himself. Michael Levine, a prominent Hollywood publicist, has confirmed that he helped Jackson and his manager Frank DiLeo plant a story that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber to help promote Jackson's film Captain Eo. Jackson's bid to buy the Elephant Man's bones was another publicity stunt.
Man in the Mirror: One of Jackson's biggest hits, "Man in the Mirror," was co-written by Glen Ballard, who later produced Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill.
His Nose: Many have mocked Jackson's efforts to perfect his nose through plastic surgery. But from the side, it was flawless — with the slight, elfish upturn of Jackson's self-professed hero, Peter Pan.
His Height: His normal speaking voice, while high, was much deeper than the girlish whisper he sometimes affected in public. Six feet tall, and broad-shouldered for someone so slender (in 2003 he weighed just 120 pounds), he moved with fluidity, speed, and athleticism, even when he wasn't onstage. Of course, his agility was marred by frequent health troubles in his later years.
Kids: Jackson continued to welcome children to his Neverland Ranch even after he was charged with child molestation in 2003. Burn victims, underprivileged kids and fans were welcomed with ice cream, and amused by a wandering Charlie Chaplin impersonator and Jackson's menagerie of animals. They explored Jackson's rooms full of videotaped films, marveled at his collectible mannequins of stars and superheroes, and listened to hip-hop songs in the arcade — with the curse words edited out.
Future Songs: Before he died, Jackson worked with the Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am in Ireland. Some of their remakes of Jackson classics appeared last year on the 25th anniversary edition of Jackson's Thriller, but there's no word on whether their collaboration led to any new songs.