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‘Wacko Jacko!’ Inside Michael Jackson’s ‘Very Painful’ Fall From Grace

Star's 'eccentricities' turned him into a media clown, recalls biographer.

At the height of his fame, Michael Jackson’s team intentionally put out news items that displayed his quirky lifestyle; but as the years went by, those cheeky details started to become flaws, in his fans’ eyes.

REELZ’s new docuseries, The Michael Jackson Story, tells the King of Pop’s life story — from bright beginning to tragic end.

“Michael and his manager, Frank DiLeo, started planting these crazy stories in the press, like the fact that Michael sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber, or he bought the Elephant Man’s bones, just to get publicity — because Michael loved publicity. He was trained under Berry Gordy in Motown and he knew all about publicity,” Michael Jackson biographer Steve Knopper says in the show.

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“Michael, in addition to everything else, had some P.T. Barnum in him,” he adds, referring to the late American showman best known for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Deep down, Michael Jackson was a true showman.

“My whole life, he said, is gonna be the greatest show on Earth,” Michael Jackson biographer Joseph Vogel recalls. “And eventually, that kind of backfired. It was around that time that people started referring to him as ‘Wacko Jacko.’”

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“Some of these eccentricities that he has start to become less charming in a mass public way, and I think he’s not prepared for that,” Steve Knopper says. “And then you start to see people going, ‘Hey, this guy is weird, he’s a weirdo.’ And the tabloids start to use this phrase ‘Wacko Jacko,’ which he hated. And it was very painful for him.”

Despite the backlash he was getting from the public, Michael Jackson had high hopes for his album Bad, which he released five years after his hit album, Thriller. But the chaos that followed, he never saw coming.

The Michael Jackson Story airs Sunday, June 23rd 9ET / 8PT on REELZ.

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