Katherine Jackson

Katherine Esther Jackson (née Scruse, born Kattie B. Screws; May 4, 1930) is the matriarch of the Jackson family.

Katherine Jackson
Kattie B. Screws

(1930-05-04) May 4, 1930
Joe Jackson
(m. 1949; his death 2018)
Children10 (incl. Michael, Janet; see below)

Early life

Katherine Jackson was born as Kattie B. Screws[1][2] on May 4, 1930 in Clayton, Alabama to Prince Albert (October 16, 1907 – January 21, 1995) and Martha Screws (née Upshaw; December 14, 1902 – April 25, 1990). The elder of two daughters, Jackson contracted polio at age two, which left her with a noticeable permanent limp. In 1934, her father changed his surname to "Scruse", and renamed his daughter "Katherine Esther".[3] That year, the Scruse family moved to East Chicago, Indiana, an industrial city in northwest Indiana near Chicago.

As a child, Jackson aspired to become an actress or country singer, but was dismayed to find no notable black country stars. Jackson's parents divorced when she was still a child. While attending Washington High School, Jackson joined the local high school band. In 1947, Katherine met Joseph Jackson, who was also living in East Chicago. Joseph obtained an annulment of an earlier marriage and began dating Katherine. After a year-long courtship, they married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a two-bedroom house in Gary. During the couple's early years in Gary, they sang together, with Joe playing guitar. After Joe's dream of a boxing career was dashed, he continued working at nearby East Chicago's Inland Steel Company. From 1950 until 1966, Jackson gave birth to 10 children, including twins Marlon and Brandon, the latter of whom died a few hours after birth.

Jackson family

In the late 1950s, Jackson began working part-time as a store clerk in a local Sears in Gary. In 1963, Jackson, who was raised a Baptist, became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1965, all of her children followed her into the faith. While Joe, who was brought up in the Lutheran faith, also practiced the religion, it was often said he decided not to change his faith. As Jackson's brood grew, she quit her position at Sears and settled primarily as a housewife, keeping her children closer to home. By the early 1960s, several of Jackson's sons began to show off their musical talents. In 1964, Joe formed The Jackson Brothers with three of their eldest sons, Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine. Around the same time, Jackson's younger son Michael was also showing off his talent, which was discovered first by Jackson, who noticed Michael, at the age of five, singing along to the radio while dancing to the rhythm. When she tried to tell Joe of Michael's talent, though, he brushed her aside, but she insisted.

Joe eventually enlisted Michael and older brother Marlon into the group not as vocalists, but as backing instrumentalists, playing percussion. In 1966, Joe began to see seven-year-old Michael's overall talents two years after Jackson's discovery. Beforehand, Michael had performed onstage without his father's knowledge at several school recitals starting at five. By the end of 1966, Michael was positioned as the second frontman of the group after Jermaine. Acting on advice from a schoolteacher in 1965, Joe changed the group's name to The Jackson Five. In 1967, after winning several talent shows in Gary, Joe Jackson decided to make the group a professional act when Gordon Keith, an owner and vocalist at Gary's Steeltown Records, discovered and signed them to their first contract with him on November 21. Their first single, "Big Boy",[4] produced by Keith, was released on January 31, 1968.[5] "Big Boy" became a local hit, playing on radio stations in the Chicago-Gary area. Jackson began designing the group's costumes, which she continued until the group found national fame months after signing with Motown Records in March 1969. During the Jackson 5's 1970–71 heyday, Jackson – along with her three daughters and youngest son – was barely mentioned in the press. This changed in 1974 when Joe began building careers around his three younger children and eldest daughter. Michael often mentioned Jackson lovingly. Jackson started to become part of her husband's management team when the grown-up members of the group (which renamed themselves The Jacksons after splitting from Motown in 1975) reunited for the Victory Tour in 1984. Michael dedicated his 1982 album Thriller to her. Janet Jackson did the same following the release of her 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814, the first album where she was not under the watchful eye of her father following the success of Control, as Janet had fired him months after its release. Michael often said that his mother was appreciative of his solo music and approved of songs such as "Billie Jean", but said she was cautious of Michael's mature material, including "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough". In 1985, acknowledging what was then a positive impact on her children's successful music careers, national urban magazine Essence honored her as "Mother of the Year".

My Family

In 1990, Jackson released her autobiography My Family, The Jacksons,[6] which documented her early years and her relationship with her husband and their children, eight of whom wrote salutes to their mother in the book's foreword.[6] She detailed that her husband on more than a few occasions had committed adultery. She decided to file for divorce on March 9, 1973 at the Los Angeles County clerk, but chose to rescind the divorce papers.[7] The following year, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, Joe's daughter with another woman named Cheryl Terrell, was born on August 30, 1974. This led Joe and Cheryl to a 25-year affair while raising their daughter Joh'Vonnie.[6] Jackson attempted once again to divorce her husband in or around 1982, but again was persuaded to drop the action. As a result, Katherine and Joe remained officially married.

In an unauthorized biography of Janet Jackson, a confrontational family incident was described. This biography claims that in 1979, Jackson and her two youngest children, Randy and Janet, confronted a woman who worked for Joseph's company, whom Jackson had often reportedly accused of cheating with Joseph. That incident was redramatized for the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. However, in the miniseries, Jackson was shown confronting Joseph instead of the woman about the alleged incident. During the late 1980s, Jackson began experiencing an estrangement from her daughter La Toya after she was being managed by Jack Gordon. In her 1991 memoir La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family, La Toya alleged that Jackson was emotionally abusive, charges Jackson denied to the press and blamed Gordon, who married La Toya in 1989, for "brainwashing" her. In 1997, La Toya and Jackson reconciled after she filed for divorce from Gordon. Jackson was portrayed by Angela Bassett in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Patricia Idlette portrayed her in the 2004 film Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story.

Recent years

Jackson has spent the last couple of decades talking to the press defending her children, mainly Michael, who began to gain notoriety. In a recent interview promoting her Michael Jackson vip Book/DVD on The Oprah Winfrey Show, however, Jackson acknowledged that she got her husband to admit to physically disciplining their children.[8] Over the years, some claimed that Joe was abusive towards his children, which he continually denied. Jackson currently resides with her grandson T. J. Jackson, along with his family, at her home in Calabasas, California, the home in which she has been living since 2011. Jackson had moved out of her Hayvenhurst home in Encino, California, due to house renovations.[9][10]

Despite rumors that she was estranged from Joe, she denied it and dismissed rumors that Joe was banned from the Jackson family home as false, which was something the media had tried to cook up.[11][12][13] According to her son Jermaine Jackson's 2011 book You Are Not Alone: Michael Through a Brother's Eyes, Jackson had told Michael that she was nearing the age of 80 and before she died, she wanted to see her sons perform together one last time. One of Michael Jackson's future plans as part of his deal with AEG Live was a final reunion tour with his brothers. She most recently appeared at the BET Awards 2015 with her daughter Janet as she accepted the Ultimate Icon Award. Katherine's husband Joe died from pancreatic cancer on June 27, 2018, two days after the 9th anniversary of Michael Jackson's death.[14][15]

Death of Michael Jackson

On June 25, 2009, Michael died from an overdose of propofol. On July 30, 2009, Katherine Jackson and Debbie Rowe reached a settlement pertaining to the care of Michael's two oldest children (with Rowe), Prince and Paris, in which the children will be raised by Katherine, and Rowe will have visitation rights and continue to receive the yearly payments to which Michael had agreed. On August 3, 2009, a judge named Jackson as the children's permanent guardian. On July 25, 2012, Jackson's guardianship of the children was suspended by the court amid allegations that she may have been held against her will by several Jackson family members as a result of a financial dispute between those family members and Michael's estate.[16] Guardianship of the children was temporarily given to Michael's nephew, TJ, one of Tito's sons.[17] Katherine Jackson's guardianship resumed with T.J. Jackson added as a co-guardian.[18][19] On November 1, 2017, Jackson resigned as co-guardian of Michael's youngest son, Blanket. Jackson stated her reasons for resigning included her own advanced age, the fact that Michael's oldest children Prince and Paris were now adults, and that Blanket was now 15 years old. TJ Jackson was, without objection, awarded sole custody of Blanket.[20]


Ten children; seven sons, and three daughters, were born to Katherine and Joe Jackson.[6]


  1. Biography
  2. Jackson Source
  3. Jackson Source
  4. Big Boy, 40th Anniversary http://www.jackson5abc.com/steeltown/
  5. 45 RPM Records
  6. Jackson, Katherine; Rich Wiseman (1990). My Family, the Jacksons. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-92350-3.
  7. Friedman, Roger (29 October 2004). "Jacko's Family Secrets Revealed". foxnews.com. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  8. Gina Serpe (8 November 2010). "Michael Jackson's Kids, Parents Join Oprah: Talk Plastic Surgery, Beatings and...French Toast?". eonline.com. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. Taylor, Candace (20 June 2014). "Michael Jackson's Estate Buys in Calabasas for $10.75 Million". Retrieved 24 October 2016 via Wall Street Journal.
  10. David, Mark (27 March 2011). "Kathryn Jackson Takes Her Grandbabies to Calabasas". variety.com. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  11. "Katherine Jackson Speaks To Geraldo Rivera 8/2/09". YouTube.com. 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  12. CNN, By Alan Duke,. "Michael Jackson's mom talks about motherhood, family". cnn.com. Retrieved 24 October 2016.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  13. "Michael Jackson's mother Katherine: 'He didn't die of natural causes'".
  14. "Joe Jackson Dead at 89".
  15. "Joe Jackson, father of Michael and Janet Jackson, dead at 89". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  16. "Katherine Jackson loses custody of MJ's kids". Firstpost.com. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  17. "Judge suspends Katherine Jackson as guardian of Michael Jackson's children". Cnn.com. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  18. Duke, Alan (2 August 2012). "Katherine Jackson resumes guardianship of Michael Jackson's children". Cnn.com. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  19. "Autopsy Report for Michael Jackson" (PDF). Autopsyfiles.org. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  20. Katherine Jackson resigns as Blanket Jackson's co-guardian
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