Michael Jackson turns 50, shadow of a superstar

Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:05pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Michael Jackson turned 50 on Friday, a shadow of the superstar once known as the "King of Pop" whose records thrilled millions before his bizarre personal life eclipsed his musical brilliance.

Unlike Madonna's 50th birthday bash and launch of another world tour earlier this month, the singer who wishes he was Peter Pan appears to have no special celebrations planned and a much-touted musical comeback has so far come to nothing.

A semi-recluse since his harrowing 2005 trial and acquittal on child sex abuse, Jackson has been living out of the spotlight for the past few months.

In a telephone interview with ABC television program "Good Morning America," Jackson said he will "just have a little cake with my children and watch some cartoons," and he added that he feels "very wise and sage, but at the same time very young."

Recent pictures of Jackson in Las Vegas showed him dressed in pajamas and slippers, and one had him sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a surgical mask.

Long-time Jackson family friend and lawyer Brian Oxman told Reuters the singer sometimes used the wheelchair to get around unobserved. "It is not an indication of any health problems. It is an effort to be unseen," he said.

Oxman added that for the 50th birthday, "no-one is planning anything special. He is just being quiet these days."

Billboard senior music analyst Geoff Mayfield saw nothing unusual in Jackson's low-key birthday. "I don't think our celebrities are real hot on how old they are getting. Why would a pop singer draw attention to the fact they are getting older?," Mayfield told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>U.S. pop star Michael Jackson receives the Diamond Award during the World Music Awards at Earl's Court in London in this November 15, 2006 file photo. Jackson turns 50 on August 29, 2008. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>