A CORK writer who had a deeply intimate friendship with King of Pop Michael Jackson has written a book in an attempt to clear his name against what she calls the ‘tsunami of lies’ that tormented him.
Talitha Linehan, from Boherbue, in County Cork, travelled the world to see Michael Jackson, beginning in 1996, when she flew to Prague for the opening concert of the HIStory tour, and ending in Los Angeles, where she visited him and his kids in the privacy of their home and where she spoke to him outside a rehearsal studio on the last night of his life, in June, 2009.
Over those 13-years, she said she experienced seeing him as a superstar, a performer, an artist, a public figure, a private man, and a father.
She was a constant presence behind him in the courtroom during the 2005 trial, where he was acquitted on all charges relating to the alleged sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy.
“And, during his final years, I became a daily presence around him in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where he was living at the time,” said Talitha, a former Evening Echo reporter.
In 2019, 10 years after his death, a documentary, Leaving Neverland, looked at allegations that Jackson molested other boys. Describing the documentary as ‘sordid’, Talitha says she wants her book to reach people who she says have been misled by ‘all of the lies’.
“I wrote this book because I had to. I think most people who read it will be fans who already know the truth about Michael, but of course I hope it reaches people outside of that world too, and enlightens them to the truth of who he was.
“I think it would have destroyed him to know that any of the people he stayed with or met there might believe for one second that he could ever harm a child, and honestly, it breaks my heart too,” she said.
Talitha, who now lives in LA, says her first memory of Michael is from when she was seven-years-old: “I watched the 1978 film The Wiz, in which he plays the Scarecrow. I was watching the film at my grandmother’s house and my mum came to collect me before it ended, and I cried because I wanted to know what happened to the Scarecrow. I loved Michael even before I knew who he was.
“A few years later, I became aware of pop culture and became a huge fan of his, like so many others were at that time, but it was when I watched his film Moonwalker for the first time, at the age of 13, that I felt the fullness of my love for him released, and I knew from then on that he would always be a huge part of my life.
“Growing up, I was a fan of lots of singers and actors but with Michael, it was different, it was deeper, it was a soul-to-soul connection. I felt drawn to him from the beginning.”
Their relationship, while platonic, was intense.
“I didn’t decide to love Michael, any more than we decide to love anyone,” Talitha says in the opening pages of her book.
“It was as inescapable as destiny, and years later, when I embraced this aspect of myself more than ever before, when I gave myself permission to go to Michael without fear or reservation, I felt certain that I was in perfect alignment with some prescribed fate — something that Michael affirmed to me during a late-night phone conversation in 2008, when he told me that what we shared was written in the stars. ‘I love you, I really do,’ he said in his soft, melodious voice. ‘It’s all cosmic, you know. We are connected to each other. We are drawn to one another. Even tonight, this phone call, it’s cosmic. You wanted to talk to me. And I wanted to hear your voice. And that’s why we’re talking now. The universe made it happen.’”
The pair never met in Ireland, but she said he took every opportunity to talk to her about the time he and his children spent here in 2006, including a stay in Kinsale’s Ballinacurra House.
When Michael died at the age of 50, as a father of three, Talitha said her soul shattered.
"That was the end of a lot of things for me, but I’m glad I endured, because it led to this book being written, and this book feels like the first truly meaningful thing I’ve done in over a decade. I did this for him.”
Talitha insists there is sufficient evidence to show that Michael was not a drug user in the time leading up to his death, despite reports to the contrary.
“Just as there are people as good and pure as Michael, there are people as corrupt and evil as those who have attached these disgusting lies to his name.
“It has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt in a court of law what happened to Michael.”
Dr Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician, was found guilty in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for improperly administering an anaesthetic drug that led to his death and served two years of a four-year prison sentence.
Talitha acknowledges the raft of books on the King of Pop written by family members, friends, employees, associates, etc, but says hers is the first book by a fan who travelled the world to see him and met him many times.
“I was probably the luckiest follower of all. The experience I had is considered extraordinary even within the follower world, both in terms of quantity and quality.
“It offers a deeply personal account of an extraordinary human being from the perspective of one of his millions of fans... and it’s my own stance against the tsunami of lies that tormented Michael in life.”
A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Michael Jackson And Me is available on Amazon and from other retailers. For more information, visit: michaeljacksonandme.com