When Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, nobody could believe it.
“There was such a strange collision of legendary people: the daughter of Elvis Presley, and the King of Pop,” Michael Jackson biographer Joseph Vogel says in REELZ’s new docuseries, The Michael Jackson Story.
Both stars were incredibly famous, but Jackson had a reputation of being odd and possibly asexual, so people could not piece together why he would marry Presley, 51.
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“I was writing for a newspaper when Michael and Lisa Marie got married, and I remember I wrote the line ‘Michael and Lisa Marie were in love. There’s no other explanation.’ And I got so much flak from readers. People said, ‘How could that possibly be true?’ People actually became angry when you made the suggestion that Michael and Lisa Marie married because they were actually in love with each other,” Michael Jackson biographer Steve Knopper recalls.
Their marriage lasted only two years, after which Presley married actor Nicolas Cage, and later, guitarist Michael Lockwood. Jackson went on to marry Debbie Rowe, with whom he had son Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., 22 and daughter Paris Jackson, 21. The “Thriller” singer later welcomed son Prince Michael “Blanket” Jackson, 17, from an unknown surrogate.
“There’s no chance that this was an average, normal, typical marriage,” People magazine’s Kate Coyne says of Jackson and Presley’s relationship. “You add to that the fact that Michael Jackson was lawn-dogged until his death by rumors that his sexuality was abnormal in some way. And by abnormal I don’t mean bisexual, homosexual, transsexual, I mean almost asexual in the sense that no one could really believe that he was attracted to anyone.”
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Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse around the time he met Presley; claims which he vehemently denied. Neither he nor Presley ever gave details about their mysterious personal relationship.
“Lisa Marie was fairly public about the fact that she didn’t need or want celebrity. She had enough of that, more than almost anyone else on the planet at that time. In addition to that, she certainly didn’t need money, she was the heiress to the Elvis Presley fortune. She didn’t want the attention,” Knopper says. “Sources that I’ve talked to suggest that during the Michael and Lisa Marie romance and marriage, they were very devoted to each other.”
The Michael Jackson Story airs Sunday, June 23 at 9ET / 8PT on REELZ.