Fact Check

Michael Jackson at 40

Image shows a magazine's projection of what Michael Jackson would look like at age 40?

Published July 18, 2009


Claim:   Image shows a magazine's 1985 projection of what Michael Jackson would look like at age 40.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2009]

I found this picture online and I doubt it's legitimate. I don't understand why it is only coming out now that he has died and not back in 2000 when it would have been a little more relevant, although it very well could have and I just missed it.

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Origins:   This image shown above is difficult to classify: It isn't a photograph that captures how late singer Michael Jackson ever actually looked, but it is a genuine projection from the mid-1980s of what his appearance might be like fifteen years in the future.

In its August 1985 issue, Ebony magazine ran a "Portraits of the Stars" feature in which it commissioned an artist to create portraits of how various black

celebrities might look in the year 2000 (a date which was then still a good fourteen years in the future). Ebony's collection of artificially aged notables included Muhammad Ali, Billy Dee Williams, Kim Fields, Jayne Kennedy, Magic Johnson, Emmanuel Lewis, Debbie Allen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and, as the lead-off to the article, Michael Jackson. Jackson, who was 27 years old at the time, was pictured (as shown above) as the artist anticipated the popular singer might look in the year 2000 (when he would have been 41 years old): "He will have aged gracefully and will have a handsome, more mature look."

Of course, by the year 2000 Michael Jackson didn't look anything like Ebony's artist had anticipated he might back in 1985, as Jackson subsequently underwent cosmetic procedures that altered his appearance:

Last updated:   18 July 2009


    Ebony.   "Portraits of the Stars."

    August 1985   (pp. 163-168).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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