Early TV and Movie Work

His Appeal is Universal

Michael Jackson's early TV work gave him much of the exposure that he needed to launch a successful solo career. Although not in person, Michael first appeared on TV in the Saturday morning cartoon, The Jackson Five. The ABC produced show, which ran for only two years, chronicled the fictionalized lives of The Jackson Five and their management. The show only featured music by the J5, and its theme song was composed of four of their number one hits. In the show, Michael was often surrounded by exotic pets, which proved coincidental when considering his many pets later in life. In 1976, CBS produced The Jacksons, a live-action series about the musical family. Although the show did not feature brother Jermaine, it did offer a rare glimpse at other of Michael Jackson’s brothers and sisters. These two series were largely the extent of Michael Jackson's early TV appearances. It was not until his late teens that Michael Jackson's early movie appearances became well known.

It was not until Michael Jackson was 25 that his television ratings would surpass those of his childhood. This can largely be attributed to the release of his hit single “Billie Jean.”

This was the song that cemented Michael Jacksons solo career and Thriller in public eye.

Michael Jackson's early movie roles are strictly limited to his co-leading role in The Wiz, as the Scarecrow. The movie, adapted from the Tony winning Broadway show of the same name, was a retelling of the famous Wizard of Oz story in African American context. Although the movie had a net loss slightly above 10 million dollars, Michael Jackson is amply remembered for his acting in the picture. After that film a sequel, Michael ceased to act in commercialized movies and his other appearances were limited to professional tapings of his tours and shows.

Jackson’s later TV and movie appearances were a varied mix of shocking scandal stories, and positive advertising and charity. Even though it is debatable whether or not Michael’s early media appearances were critical to his stardom, it is certain that the extra exposure was valuable to developing his image as the future King of Pop.