Latoya Jackson: An American Sweetheart We Love to Hate
If you haven’t heard of the name Latoya Jackson, you most likely have been sleeping under a rock for the past thirty five years. Born into one of the most famous families in the world, (The Jackson family), Ms. Jackson has been anything but under the radar.
From the notorious slandering of her late brother Michael during the early 1990s, to her abusive marriage, family turmoil, failed albums and days of playboy, this diva have compelled us to keep watching. She has also managed to stay relevant in our pop culture conscious for more than three decades.
As we look back at her turbulent time in the spot light, we must remember Latoya is only human and is deserving of our sympathy. After all, we all make mistakes.
The question remains is Americans ready to forgive her?
Lets begin our journey back in time.
Growing up Jackson
Latoya Yvonne Jackson was born May 29, 1956 the fifth of nine children in Gary Indiana and the middle female child between sisters Rebbie and Janet. Her parents Katherine and Joe Jackson were quite conservative, raising their children in a religious and strict household.
Latoya along with her family rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her brothers the Jackson 5 sold more than 275 million records as of 2011. Little sister Janet is not too far behind with more than 150 million records sold to date while her late brother Michael leads the pack with around 392 million sold as a solo artist, though claims has put his record sales as much higher. In short her musical family has moved nearly a billion records world wide making them American musical royalty.
Over the past several years Latoya has made many attempts to match the success of her famous and iconic siblings but failed to do so musically. After many unsuccessful albums during the 1980s era, she decided to turned her attention else where.
Playboy and the jealousy of younger brother Michael
By 1980s Ms. Jackson was obviously becoming more desperate for attention and success. Her lack of musical achievement must have weighed heavily on her especially given the amazing careers of her two younger siblings Janet and Michael during the same time period.
The change of management by her father Joe, greatly compromised Latoya’s relationship with him even further after he selected Jack Gordon to take over for him as manager of his daughter's career. His actions led to Latoya becoming increasingly more withdrawn from reality.
In 1989, under the management of jack Gordon the conservative Latoya, posed topless for Play Boy Magazine. The issue sold more than 8 million copies worldwide turning the Jackson's family dark horse into overnight sex symbol. It became the most successful issue in playboy history.
Her family was horrified by her scandalous attempts to grab the spot light away from her other famous siblings in such a dishonorable way. She had become a sex and hate symbol of sorts but her family continued to receive most of the highly negative criticisms for her poor decision making. The worst was yet to come. She later disgraced them even further by the shameful jealous slandering of her eccentric mega star brother Michael. In the early 1990s. Latoya went on public television, calling the sensationalized sex abuse allegations made against her brother true. She would later claim that her abusive husband made her attack her own brother so viciously. We may never really know what motivated Latoya to do such a thing but none the less she has since apologized for her embarrassing behavior.
Let examine Latoya’s life further.
Abusive Marriage And Escaping Torture
Latoya time in the spot light got even more bizarre after Jack Gordon asked her to marry him shortly after becoming her manager in 1989. She initially refused to marry him but was forced into the marriage by intimidation. After 6 months of marriage she confronted him stating that she was not in love with him and wanted out of the forced relationship. This is when things began to turn violent. She states in her autobiography that Jack would often bashed her head into tables, make violent treats against her family, monitor her every phone call and repeatedly black her eye.
“In 1993 in their New York home, Gordon beat Jackson repeatedly with a heavy brass dining room chair, leaving Jackson with black eyes, swollen lip and chin "the size of a clenched fist," cuts requiring 12 mouth stitches and contusions on her face, arms, legs and back. Jackson lost consciousness during the beating, leading Gordon to believe she was dead. She recalled, "He called his friends and said, 'She's dead. I killed her,' because I was lying in a puddle of blood and I was out."] Gordon was arrested but then released, claiming he beat Jackson in self defense" (Wikipedia.org).
The nightmare that was her marriage finally ended after she had found the courage to reach out to a member of her family who intervened and helped her escape from Mr. Gordon’s home. She filed a restraining order against him and later sued him for years of abuse in 1998. Gordon continued to stalk Latoya up until his death from cancer in 2003.
Latoya pictured with Niece Paris Jackson and Kathy Hilton
Latoya at signing for her new best selling book Starting Over
As her tumultuous marriage came to an end, a new beginning began for Ms. Latoya Jackson. She managed to redeem herself in a heart felt song called home. She the wrote it about her abusive marriage but later dedicated the song and video to her late brother Michael who passed away on June 25, 2009. Latoya has describe Michael death as "a nightmare that should have never happened" and has since dedicated her time to her brother's memory.
She continues to support some of Michael's favorite charities by giving to the less fortunate and campaigning on behalf of him for the AIDS Project Los Angeles. The cultural icon has also volunteered her time to feeding the homeless during her off days.
Her new book Staring Over has top the best sellers list. It serves as a declaration of her independence from abuse and a triumph over tragedy story that has traveled with her over the many years she has spent in the spot light. The book chronicles her relationship with her abusive ex husband as well as details on what she believed may have happened to her late brother Michael. The memoir is good read and I definitely recommend it.
Latoya I must say has conquered her demons to say the least. As she looks towards a new beginning, the question still remains is America ready to forgive her for past sins? I wish I had the answer to this questioned but I think its safe to say, time will tell in the end. In the mean time, here are some videos of Latoya from the 1970s-1980s . I hope you enjoy them and please check out my online poll. I look forward to hearing from you.