Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Katherine Jackson (born Katherine Esther Scruse May 4, 1930 in Barbour County, Alabama) is the matriarch of the Jacksons musical dynasty and the mother of pop music legends The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.
Raised in Chicago, Illinois by the age of 4, Katherine was diagnosed with polio as a child. She beat the crippling disease by the time she was a teenager but would forever walk with a limp that became noticeable. In 1947, Katherine was in high school playing several instruments in a high school band and was practicing to be a nurse until she first met a handsome 18-year-old man named Joseph Jackson. Though she said her ideal man "needed to play a saxophone", she became smitten with Joseph. After Joseph divorced his first wife, he and Katherine began dating.
Katherine was to follow Joseph to California where he was planning to become a professional boxer. But family got in the way of Joseph's dreams when Katherine became pregnant with their first child. The young couple decided to marry on November 5, 1949 in Crown Point, Indiana and after buying a 2-bedroom house in neighboring Gary, Indiana in 1950 for $800, the Jacksons settled as the first of ten children, Rebbie, was born on May 29, 1950.
Katherine's second child and her first of six sons, Jackie was born on Katherine's 21st birthday in 1951. After two years, Katherine had her next baby, Tito in October, 1953. As the 1950s dwelled on and times got worse for Katherine and Joseph, who was going through work as a steel mill crane operator and had tried out a singing career as the leader of the blues band, the Falcons to no success, as they would become welfare and poverty-ridden. After the births of Jermaine, LaToya, twins Brandon and Marlon, Michael, Randy and Janet in a spread of 11 years, there wasn't a lot of money to go around. The family sometimes ask relatives to give them food, money and clothing. If that didn't work, they'd get some from the Salvation Army.
Through much of the hard times, they always had music. For Katherine, who had dreamed to be a country singer, she relished her gifted voice on her kids who begin to sing along to the songs she and the kids would sing together. However, Joseph wasn't too pleased after he caught one of his sons playing his guitar without permission. He only became excited after seeing how truly talented his sons were, due to Katherine's pleas. It was Katherine who told Joseph that Michael excelled a special talent for music. It took Joseph three years before realizing 7-year-old Michael could carry the group. He and Jermaine would serve as co-lead singers of the Jackson 5 until Michael was made the main lead singer in 1967, which by this point, the brothers were making ends meet playing at nightclubs for money.
In 1969, the Jackson 5 signed with Motown and released four successive #1 hit singles within a year - "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There". The entire Jackson family music clan moved to California in 1970 eventually living in a gated mansion in Encino. They called the mansion, Hayvenhurst. Though Joseph had dreamed of making it to the big time, Katherine was more reserved often sharing her dislikes of her new surroundings to family relatives.
But a problem began to ensue within the clan when Joseph cheated on her. Katherine said that she had always known of her husband's philandering since the Gary days but said it came to ahead when she heard that Joseph had a baby with another woman in 1974. But the notion of another woman being pregnant with Joseph got to Katherine's head and she filed for divorce though she never went on with the plans, allegedly because she didn't want to break the promise she had set for herself that she will never leave her husband.
Katherine took another blind eye to her husband's philandering until 1981 when a woman working for her husband's company was alleged to be Joseph's girlfriend. Katherine went to her husband's offices and got into an altercation with that woman, allegedly bringing Randy and Janet along with her. The woman sued Katherine, Janet and Randy for emotional distress. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount. In 1982, Katherine made another move to file divorce papers from Joseph but Joseph continued to stay at their Hayvenhurst mansion. Finally, Katherine agreed to let a pleading Joseph stay with her and she dropped the divorce precedings again never making no plan for divorcing though Joseph had slowed down by the 1990s. By then, her son Michael and daughter Janet had become musical megastars on their own. Her other children, however, were trying to cause noise in the family with Jermaine making derogatory comments about Michael while La Toya went on to say she was abused physically by Joseph and emotionally by Katherine in her autobiography, which was later said to have been staged by her husband Jack Gordon , whom she married in 1989.
In 1990, Katherine published a book titled My Family, which became a national best-seller where she tried to dissolve rumors about Michael, who was fastly becoming the king of the tabloids. Family drama continued as the Jackson siblings' squabble made front-page news, much shockingly, because Randy and Jermaine shared the same girl with Jermaine eventually marrying Randy's ex. They have since divorced. Pain and anguish hit Katherine and the family when her daughter-in-law, Dee-Dee Martez Jackson, Tito's wife, was murdered in 1994. Katherine's travails turned into a movie when The Jacksons: An American Dream debuted in 1992. Acclaimed actress Angela Bassett played the role of Katherine to great detail.
As of 2005, Katherine and Joseph still live together in both their Hayvenhurst mansion and at a home in Las Vegas. The two, still married after more than 55 years, have gone on TV to defend the recent controversies concerning Michael and Janet.
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