Skip to main content

The Changing Face of Michael Jackson

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Gajanis is a huge Michael Jackson fan. The changes to his face didn't touch his talent.

Michael Jackson: A Legend

Michael Jackson: A Legend

A Look at MJ's Physical Transformation Over the Years

Michael Jackson was a legend who will be remembered in the hearts of his fans for years to come. Throughout his tumultuous life, one thing that ironically remained constant was the ongoing transformation in his physical appearance. Despite obvious changes to his nose, jawline and eyes, the pop icon denied he had extensive plastic surgery and blamed his changing skin tone on vitiligo.

Michael Jackson pictured in his early days on the left and as an adult on the right.

Michael Jackson pictured in his early days on the left and as an adult on the right.

Michael Jackson began his career as the lead singer for the Jackson 5 in 1964. In the picture above, he is shown on the left in 1969 as a successful child singer. By 2001, Jackson's face differed markedly from its former self. Here are pictures documenting the evolution of Michael Jackson's face over the decades.

March 1971


At left, Michael Jackson poses for a studio portrait in March 1971. His doe eyes, cherubic face, and sweet voice made him the object of many an adolescent crush. Three decades later in November 2003, an almost completely unrecognizable Jackson is shown in a mug shot after he was booked for multiple counts of alleged child molestation. After his death, the question lingers: what was it all about?

"He didn't want to be Michael Joseph Jackson. He just wanted to be something else. And he went about the business of doing that," says Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli.



By the time this photo was taken in 1973, Jackson had already released three solo albums and his first number one hit, "Ben." At this time, puberty began to naturally transform Jackson's face, melting away the baby fat and revealing a more masculine jawline.



Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli suspects that the inevitable changes of puberty were deeply traumatic for the child star. "When he started to change physically as all guys do, when they go through adolescence and puberty, this was really difficult for him," he told Cynthia McFadden of ABC News in 2003.



By the tender age of 18, Jackson's fame had well eclipsed that of his brothers. Yet, despite the adulation, the star was becoming increasingly insecure about his looks. In particular, Jackson disliked his acne-prone skin and his nose. It didn't help that, according to Taraborrelli, Jackson's brothers reportedly called him "big nose."



In 1979, the same year Michael Jackson released his fifth solo album, Off the Wall, it is believed he took another big step: his first foray into plastic surgery.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Spinditty

Jackson reportedly underwent his first rhinoplasty at age 21, after breaking his nose during a dance rehearsal. It would be the first step in a dramatic facial transformation. The same year, in a prophetic interview with Sylvia Chase of 20/20, he claimed he was unable to lead a normal life.

"It's hard to in my position. I try to sometime. And, but people won't deal with me in that way because they see me differently. They won't talk to me like they would a next-door neighbor," he said.



Michael Jackson poses in 1981, during the hiatus between Off the Wall and his mega-hit Thriller. By this point, he had ditched his seventies Afro in favor of what would become his signature curly hair, and his nose is noticeably different from from what it had been just a few years earlier.

"Obviously he's had some nasal surgery," plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin told ABC News in 2003. "The bridge is much thinner, width of the nostrils is greatly reduced. . . That's a great result. That nose is still believable."



By 1983, Jackson was at the zenith of his career with Thriller well on its way to becoming the best-selling album of all time. Some argue that Michael also looked his best at this time.



This photograph of Jackson was taken in 1985, the same year he would write the hit song "We Are the World" with Lionel Ritchie, which they performed along with fellow superstars Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Bruce Springsteen. The year before, Jackson had suffered second-degree burns on his scalp in an infamous accident while filming a Pepsi commercial.



Here is Jackson in 1987, shortly after the release of his album, Bad. In the five years between Thriller and Bad, Jackson's face changed dramatically as his fame skyrocketed.

After the unprecedented success of Thriller, some think that Jackson's metamorphosis became an artistic statement, far more than his initial insecurities about his appearance. "He wanted to be the King of Pop. He wanted to be Captain Eo," claims Margo Jefferson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Michael Jackson. "I think he was obsessed with staying timeless, is what I think. . . It's as if he wanted to look like some, you know, being who has gone into some eternal realm of fame. . . beyond life and death."



In this picture, Jackson attends the 1989 Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles, unveiling an even thinner nose, heavily-lined eyes, and a suddenly prominent cleft chin. In a 2003 interview with ABC News, plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin insists that Jackson's transformations could not have been natural.

"That's not a natural cleft. There's a way of creating a cleft in a chin. But the reason why the operation hasn't become popular is it never looks real," she said.



In 1991, Jackson released Dangerous. The album's first single was the number-one hit "Black or White"; some interpreted the lyrics as a sly reference to Jackson's ever-lightening skin tone.



In a memorable 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson admitted that his skin color had changed, but insisted the lightening was a result of a disease called vitiligo.

Plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin was skeptical of these claims, telling ABC News in 2003, "It's the most unusual case of vitiligo I've ever seen. I think he's bleached his skin possibly to blend in what might have been vitiligo."



At a 1995 charity event, a 36-year-old Jackson was almost completely unrecognizable from the person he was just a decade earlier. His appearance is noticeably wide-eyed and square-jawed, a look that's accentuated by a shorter hairstyle.

Of Jackson's transformation, plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin has said, "It's obvious that he's trying to look caucasian. His skin is whiter, his nose is getting thinner every six months. His lips are getting thinner."



In 1997, with his career on the wane, Jackson debuted yet another look: longer, straighter hair and fuller lips. Lipkin believes Jackson may have been addicted to plastic surgery. "It means that no much matter how much surgery you have, you're still not happy with the way you look," she said. "He kept focusing on his nose. It became, his nose became the obsession."



Jackson waves to fans upon arrival in Seoul, South Korea, in 1999. Dr. Steven Laughlin was Jackson's surgeon until the late 1990s. In a 1999 interview with ABC News, Laughlin admitted that although Jackson was "very happy" with his face, "I think he's done more than I recommended in terms of the changes."



By November 2001, Jackson's ever-higher eyebrows created a permanently startled look and suggested surgical intervention of some kind. "He probably had some sort of forehead lift or brow lift," Lipkin told ABC News in 2003. She also believes Jackson was a "Nasal cripple . . . whose nose has been done so many times that there is no nose really to breathe through. Michael Jackson has what we call an end-stage nose, a crucified nose, one that's beyond the point of no return."



Jackson is pictured after his 2003 arrest for alleged child molestation. The charges were almost as shocking as his ever-evolving appearance. The previous year, Jackson told ABC News' Martin Bashir, "I've had no plastic surgery on my face. Just my nose. It helped me breathe better so I can hit higher notes."



In 2005, Michael Jackson stood trial for 14 different charges, including child molestation, conspiracy, and providing alcohol to minors. On June 13, 2005, Jackson was found not guilty on all counts. After the trial, Jackson fled to the island country of Bahrain, far from the public eye.



In the later years of his life, Jackson was rarely seen in public without a surgical mask covering his face. This photo from Jesse Jackson's 66th birthday party in 2007 is a rare exception. His gaunt appearance highlights his prominent cheekbones, chin, and lips.

2009: Michael Jackson's Last Days


Michael Jackson died on 25th June, 2009 at Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Mystery Of Death........

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you think Michael Jackson could still be alive somewhere on Earth?

Answer: If you are asking if he could be physically alive somewhere on Earth, the answer is no. However, big celebrities like him do live forever in the hearts of their followers.

Question: What do you think Michael Jackson's cause of death was?

Answer: As far as my knowledge is concerned, his cause of death was due to some overdose effect of medicine he was taking. This view has not been primarily accepted by his fans, who think otherwise and alleges some foul play into his death.

Question: How old was Michael Jackson when he died?

Answer: He died two months short of his 51st birthday.


Harmonic star on May 13, 2020:

Michael jackson ur memories still live on

gajanis (author) from Pakistan on April 03, 2020:

I thank you all for their valuable comments and highly respect their individual point of views on the subject.

Mellanie Douglas on February 13, 2020:

Micheal Jackson's Death

There are several theories on the death of Micheal Jackson. The most logical statement on the topic is that made by the Los Angeles County coroner as the absolute believed reason. They consider it homicide from a lethal drug combination of anxiolytic lorazepam, a medication for anxiety and depression, and Propofall, a drug Dr. Conrad Murray supposedly gave his patient too much of that was supposed to help him sleep before a surgery. Another theory is that Micheal Jackson faked his own death to avoid financial problems, and actually died just a few years ago. This is not uncommon and has been done many times and is thought to have quietly been done by Averil Lavigne and one of her doubles. Also, a commonly believed theory is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad killed him to distract attention from Iranian protests. Usually, pop culture is able to distract the mass of people. So if something were going on that we weren't supposed to know about and hints were being picked up by people… BOOM: Katy Perry has a freak out and shaves her head; a new movie comes out; the Jonas Brothers break up; get the picture? So, what actually happened? Did Micheal Jackson experience a drug overdose; was he trying to escape fame; or was his death actually a murder to pull our attention away from the bigger picture?

Several people believe that Micheal Jackson died because of his doctor prescribing a lethal amount of Propofol. The goal of the medication was to get the King of Pop to have a sleep-like sensation before his surgery, but could it have led to his death? Mr. Dr. Conrad Murray was accused of giving his patient too much of the drug before a facial surgery. He was taken to court and held guilty of involuntary manslaughter for improperly providing the anesthetic drug that led to Jackson's death. He served two full years in prison, though his sentence was four years. Did this man kill Jackson intentionally, if at all? Was he paid to do it? So many questions were left unanswered. The case in total was a heartfelt trama for Jackson’s sister, La Toya Jackson. She, herself, believed that there was more to the story of Jackson’s death than anyone was letting on, and was very public about it. She said, "People come into your life, wiggle their way in, control you, manipulate, control your funds, your finances, everything that you have," and claimed that before his death he had said, "La Toya, I'm going to be murdered for my music publishing catalogue and my estate." She said Micheal knew his death was coming and was afraid. An artical even goes far enough to say, “While La Toya does not accuse anyone of masterminding the murder, she condemns the behaviour of Dr Tohme Tohme, who managed Michael's affairs towards the end of his life. "As soon as [Tohme] began acting as Michael's business adviser, he fired key people who had been close to Michael for years," she said. "Once Tohme shut out the rest of the world, he would be able to steer Michael toward business ventures that were profitable for Tohme and his friends." She also claims she found notes in his room, pleading for help. To elaborate on La Toya Jackson’s opinions, she believes that Dr. Murray was but a small part of the death scheme. In a video interview,, La Toya was asked if she thought Michael Jackson's death was murder. Her response was "Absolutely…. I said in the beginning and I believe it to this day. You must remember, Michael told me repeatedly that they were going to kill him and that he was going to die." She was questioned and interrogated by paparazzi: going off on this rampage: " They killed my brother. They killed him and they know who they are." His daughter, Paris Jackson, also claimed that he had dropped hints about people wanting to kill him. So, was Doctor Murray The only one held responsible for the death of Michael Jackson?

Secondly, people believe that Jackson faked his death to escape popularity, and just recently died. It is not uncommon for people who receive popularity to later wish they could just have peace, and are many conspiracies that musicians just can’t leave the industries they've gotten into - so? They fake their death. They even go as far as to hire doubles or stage deaths and the public are left clueless. One popular conspiracy is on the pop- rock artist Avril Lavigne. Conspiracies say she simply wanted out of the music business and her double/ look alike took her place and fame. Anyone else notice the sudden change in her music and appearance and even behavior in 2016? She suddenly got slightly shorter. There are also quite a few subliminal messages hidden in her music, and her handwriting looks like a completely different person. What if Jackson just got tired and was done with his publicity? Or, he was struggling financially and wanted to escape his problem. A cyber article reveals, "However, the singer was It heavy dept due to overspending and over-borrowing." Music Meaning, a Channel on Youtube states, " while Michael Jackson was the King of Pop... He was also a man who was scolded and liberated by the media." In the later years of his life, he had dealt with a lot of stress and pressure particularly because of the way he dealt with children. Now, back to Doctor Murray. The day of Michael Jackson's supposed death, says, ‘But two things can be true simultaneously: Jackson was one of the most talented performers of all time, and a predator; Jackson mourned his lost childhood, and he was a paedophile.’ Not to mention, there is camera footage of him jokingly throwing his baby daughter half way out the window. The storyline was that he was supposed to be Rehearsing for a performance that he had coming up. The doctor said that Jackson Was in his room for an unusual amount of time. He supposedly went to check in on the Popstar, and found him nearly lifeless. He stated that he had proceeded to do CPR On Michael Jackson for about 10 minutes. Then he called nine-one-one. As a physician, however, what is the doctor know how? And that it was not helpful on a bed, which is where emergency officials found him. This "incident" the doctor made would have given Michael Jackson plenty of time to fake his death and leave the scene, Not to mention a closed Casket ceremony was held for Jackson- closed casket. So was Murray the cause of Jackson's death, or did he help him fake it?

A final theory example is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad killed Micheal Jackson to distract attention from Iranian protests. At the time, of course Iranian protests were being held And were seeming increasingly popular in the eye of the common. Government officials, of course, would not want their people to worry about situations like this. So, they would throw something around that would grab the people's attention. An example of this would be, not too long ago, when Britney Spears cut her hair. This just so happened to happen the same time John F Kennedy Was going through things he did not want the public eye to be intervening in. Although, in later news, we're informed that Britney Spears had a methamphetamine addiction and was going to be tested soon. Traces can be found in your hair, and therefore she would cut it off Just to be able to see her kids, which were taken away at that time. Though there is a story behind Britney Spears's reasoning for cutting her hair, It consequently, happened at the same time commencement of presidential struggles began. Even more common and popular, Wendy Williams passes out on live television. This happened on the same day terrorists attacked Manhattan with a shooting. All of a sudden, Wendy Williams and why did she pass out on TV? Yep, that was what was trending on social media not the recent terrorist activity in Manhattan. So maybe Michael Jackson's death was just to drag our attention to something smaller then anything that someone somewhere out there may not want the public to see.

In summary, there is a vast variety of what, exactly, could have been the cause of Michael Jackson's death. Ranging from AEG, the company that could have drained him to the brim, to him being a mir distraction to the public of something bigger. He cou

PO on November 17, 2019:

He died because of homocide. An unnatural death. I wish he was alive to tell him how much I admire his song called Bad.

Luke Jackson on October 04, 2019:

Rlly? Hold on mind of his health issues and the wrong child molested thing. In 83 to 86 was his nose smaller but in 83 was his nose fresh from the last operation and the nose was bigger after the healing proces we have the nose from 87. He used full body make up and lupus and vitiligo was not good for his look. After all he experemented with his make up compare him from the 85 and the 2005 and make his skin colour darker and you see he never changes most of all the nose but this is just because his make up. Behind this make up and the sadness over the time we have the michael from the year 84. He suffered in so many things but people are blind and doesnt see that. JUST 3 OPERATION, HEALTH ISSUES AND MAKE UP THATS ALL. The wheel of time can be ruthless, so in mikeys point but he goes always with a smile after all this tabloids and f*ckers and the whole as*fu*ked media. I am proud of him. And pls dont forget the burn on january 1984 that was the biggest point in the theme medication and "drugs". Read his Biographies and follow his words.

Viterbo Gómez on September 15, 2019:

I died

Francie McDaniel on August 25, 2019:

Not one parent would sit back knowing their kid was abused. It is all money. Why do famous people have to be ran down in some way?

MJ DID NOT abuse ANYONE. Shame on THEM who accuse!

Michael was remarkable.

gajanis (author) from Pakistan on July 13, 2019:

I thank you all for reading and commenting on this article. Though I would not response individually, but I do respect every ones view point whether in favor or otherwise.

Thank you.

Ashley the person of earth on July 01, 2019:

I wish i could've remembered MJ when he was alive. He died when i was 6 months old ☹

Francie McDaniel on June 26, 2019:

Responsible parents should have had him committed before the nightmare got too far. BIG TIME intervention of whatever they could find. His entire family just let him fall. I would think Joe wouldn't be anywhere near heaven. Counseling. Well, Joseph should never have started all this. Probably ruined the whole family. All that money does not make happiness.

Samy on May 30, 2019:

1985 look is best

Me! on May 10, 2019:

I really disagree with Jacqueline Ashcroft. Of course he looked way better without all of the surgery, but he had a reason for it. He was always treated so poorly as a child, and never got the chance to be one. But people wouldn’t let him be who he wanted. He just wanted to be someone else. But he will always be in our hearts.