Strange Questions Emerge About Jackson's Children, Finances
Like so many things in Michael Jackson's life, the questions about his estate and custody of his children have become complicated and mysterious — and no one, not even his family, knows what to believe.
As his parents sought control of his estate, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Jackson's most recent will, written in 2002, divided his estate between his mother, three children and charities, apparently cutting out Joseph Jackson, the father with whom he had a strained and tumultuous relationship.
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The report came amid news reports saying not only that Jackson might not be the biological father of his children, but that the woman who gave birth to them might not be their biological mother.
TMZ reported that Jackson was not the biological father of any of his three children, while Us Weekly claimed the father of his two older children was Los Angeles dermatologist Arnold Klein. The site also said police sought to speak with Klein about any drugs he may have prescribed to Jackson, but a police spokeswoman declined to comment on the report to TVGuide.com.
Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael, 12; and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11, were born to Deborah Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife, who worked for Klein as a nurse. Jackson's third child, Prince Michael II, 7, was born to a surrogate mother.
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TMZ said that although Rowe carried the children, she was not their biological mother. The site also said Jackson never adopted any of his three children because he did not believe any third party would try to assume custody.
Both TMZ and Us cited anonymous sources.
"Debbie remains grief stricken. Her thoughts are with the children and all of the Jackson family," Rowe's attorney Marta Almli said in an e-mail. "To the extent she must respond to court proceedings that were started by others, she will of course do so at the appropriate time."
A woman who answered the phone at Klein's office said he was unavailable for comment.
Joseph Jackson and Jackson's mother, Katherine, filed court papers Monday saying they believed Jackson had died without a valid will. Katherine Jackson was also awarded temporary guardianship of the singer's children, and will seek permanent guardianship at an Aug. 3 hearing.
The Journal, citing anonymous sources, said Jackson's 2002 will could be submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court as early as Thursday. "No will has been presented to family or us," the parents' lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, told the Journal. "We will review any will when we see it."
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Jackson had a difficult relationship with his father, and spoke repeatedly of Joseph Jackson hitting him for missing notes or fumbling dance moves when he and his brothers performed as The Jackson 5.
In other developments:
—Thousands of fans gathered Tuesday to honor the pop legend at New York City's Apollo Theater, where the group won an amateur-night competition 42 years ago. Fans began lining up hours before the start of a tribute to Jackson featuring DJs spinning his songs and a video retrospective.
—An attorney for Jackson's private physician said the doctor scrambled for 30 minutes trying to find a working landline in Jackson's home so he could call 911 as he tried to save the singer's life Thursday. Attorney Ed Chernoff said Dr. Conrad Murray told him landlines in Jackson's mansion had been shut down for security reasons, and that when he called security guards no one answered. He finally found a chef to call for help. Chernoff said Murray couldn't call on his cell phone because he didn't know Jackson's address.
—Concert promoter AEG Live said it would begin offering refunds Wednesday to the thousands of fans who bought an estimated $85 million worth of tickets to Jackson's planned comeback shows. Fans also had the option of keeping their tickets, which were designed by Jackson, as souvenirs.
—Funeral arrangements for the singer remained uncertain Tuesday.
Tune in to the TV Guide Network for Stars Reflect on the Man in the Mirror on Tuesday at 8 pm/ET & PT and Michael Jackson: His Musical Legacy Volume Two on Wednesday at 8 pm/ET & PT.