The King of Pop is dead. The greatest entertainer of his era, and perhaps of all time, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead Thursday at UCLA Medical Center after going into cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles. He was 50 years old. The news shocked the entertainment industry on a day when actress Farah Fawcett of "Charlie's Angels" fame died after a long bout with cancer. Jackson's brother Jermaine announced the famed entertainer's death in a short statement.
His rise to fame was improbable, growing up in a large, poor Black family in Gary, Indiana. With the encouragement of his father, Joseph, and support of his mother, Katherine, five of the Jackson children – Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie – set out on a path to stardom that eventually included their brother Randy and launched the mega career of their little sister Janet. The group was immortalized in a 1970's Saturday morning children's cartoon show. As the Jackson 5 broke the charts on the Motown label it was obvious that Michael had the imprint of a superstar and his talents would blaze a trail unparalleled in the entertainment industry. Guided by Motown founder and father figure Berry Gordy, and later in his career by composer and producer Quincy Jones, Jackson established a unique lyrical style that was matched by dancing ability that professionally trained dancers could not match but tried endlessly to mimic.
He set himself apart in pop music with the release of his "Off the Wall" album, at the time the largest seller in the industry. The album introduced his fans to his post-Jackson 5 persona and attracted a new legion of followers. Jackson broke new ground with the release of his "Thriller" album that went on to set worldwide record sales. At the same time he established himself as a pioneer in the music video genre. His reunion with his brothers for the 25th anniversary of Motown records was a memorable moment in television history, marked by his performance of "Billie Jean" and his debut of his "Moonwalk" dance step. Jackson's performance at the Super Bowl also raised the bar for the football spectacular's halftime show. His legendary career touched not only the world of music but fashion too, as he became a cultural icon. Jackson's music also defined him as a humanitarian and connected him to the world through his many causes.
Though his life took a bizarre turn later in his career with accusations of child molestation, of which he was later acquitted, and personal financial difficulties, he remained an iconic figure who was adored by fans worldwide. At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing for a world tour that was scheduled to kick off in London. Tributes poured in throughout the world as news broke of Michael Jackson's death. Fans began to show up at UCLA Medical Center and at Jackson's residence upon hearing the news. An autopsy is scheduled for today to determine the precise cause of death.