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All About Michael Jackson's Mom, Katherine Jackson

Michael Jackson's mom Katherine has continued remembering him since his death in 2009

<p>Justin Sullivan/Getty</p> Michael Jackson leaves the Santa Barbara County Courthouse with his mother Katherine Jackson on April 21, 2005.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Michael Jackson leaves the Santa Barbara County Courthouse with his mother Katherine Jackson on April 21, 2005.

Katherine Jackson is a mother to 10 children with her late husband Joe Jackson, including musicians Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and members of The Jackson 5.

In his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk, Michael opened up about how his mom made him and each of his siblings feel special. According to the late singer, Katherine paid careful attention to their interests and found ways to encourage their ambitions.

"Every child thinks their mother is the greatest mother in the world, but we Jacksons never lost that feeling," he wrote. "Because of Katherine's gentleness, warmth and attention, I can't imagine what it's like to grow up without a mother's love."

Michael continued, “The lessons she taught us were invaluable. Kindness, love, and consideration for other people headed her list.”

Related: Michael Jackson's 3 Kids: All About Prince, Paris and Bigi

Soon after the “Bad” singer died on June 25, 2009, of acute propofol intoxication, his mother was granted custody of his three children: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (known as Prince), Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II (previously known as Blanket, now Bigi).

“Out of all the people in Michael’s life, I think Michael adored his children more than anything else. And they adored him,” Katherine told Dateline in 2010.

So who is Michael Jackson’s mother? Here’s everything to know about Katherine Jackson, from her early life to raising musical superstars.

She grew up in Indiana

Michael Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson at an event.
Michael Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson at an event.

Katherine was born as Kattie B. Screws on May 4, 1930, in Clayton, Alabama, to parents Prince Albert and Martha Screws. As a child, she contracted polio, leading her to walk with a limp for the rest of her life.

When she was 4, her father changed his last name from Screws to Scruse, and his daughter was renamed Katherine Esther Scruse. Her family moved to East Chicago, Indiana, where she attended Washington High School and was a member of the school band.

She met Joe in 1947

<p>Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho/Getty</p> Joseph And Katherine Jackson on March 20, 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

Joseph And Katherine Jackson on March 20, 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Katherine met Joseph “Joe” Jackson, her future husband and a fellow resident of East Chicago, Indiana, at a party, according to The New York Times. He reportedly filed for an annulment from his first marriage, and the pair began to date, tying the knot on Nov. 5, 1949.

After getting married, they bought a small house in Gary, Indiana, at 2300 Jackson Street, about 15 minutes from East Chicago. Though the couple stayed married until Joe died in 2018, their union had its ups and downs.

She filed for divorce in March 1973 but dismissed the filing. During their marriage, Joe reportedly had a 25-year-long affair with a woman named Cheryl Terrell and she gave birth to their daughter, Joh’Vonnie Jackson, in August 1974.

A handful of years later, Katherine filed for divorce again in 1982 but rescinded the papers.

Despite rumors of being estranged through the later years of their marriage, Katherine and Joe remained married until his death on June 27, 2018, due to terminal pancreatic cancer.

“We want to thank you all for the support you have shown us as we grieve for the patriarch of our family. We mourn the loss of our father and celebrate the life of a man who sacrificed so much to give us the life and success we have today. Thank you for respecting our privacy during this time,” the family said in a joint statement.

She is a mother of 10

<p>Michael Ochs Archives/Getty</p> Michael Jackson with his mother Katherine, sisters Janet and La Toya and brother Randy at the wedding of older brother Jermaine Jackson on December 15, 1973.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Michael Jackson with his mother Katherine, sisters Janet and La Toya and brother Randy at the wedding of older brother Jermaine Jackson on December 15, 1973.

Katherine and Joe had three daughters and seven sons together between 1950 and 1966.

A year after they wed, Katherine gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Maureen Reillette “Rebbie,” on May 29, 1950. The couple's first son, Sigmund Esco “Jackie,” was then born on May 4, 1951. Katherine and Joe expanded their family again with the addition of another son, Toriano Adaryll “Tito," who arrived on Oct. 15, 1953.

Not too long after, the pair celebrated the birth of their son Jermaine La Jaune on Dec. 11, 1954, and less than two years later, their daughter LaToya Yvonne joined the family on May 29, 1956.

Twins Marlon David and Brandon David arrived two months premature on March 12, 1957, though Brandon sadly died shortly after he was born. The following year, on Aug. 29, Michael Joseph was born.

Steven Randall “Randy” arrived on Oct. 29, 1961, and is the only brother in the family not to be a founding member of The Jackson 5. Katherine and Joe’s tenth child is daughter Janet Damita Jo, born on May 16, 1966.

Joe was known to be stern with his children, which some of them have publicly discussed, including LaToya in her 1991 memoir and Michael in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In a rare sit-down interview with Winfrey in 2010 after Michael’s death, Joe answered questions about how he disciplined their children. Though he didn't agree with the word "beat," he said that he "whipped" them.

"You might as well admit it, that's the way Black people raised their children," Katherine said to her husband before adding, "He used a strap."

When asked if he regretted his past actions, Joe said, “I don’t. It kept them out of jail and kept them right.”

She encouraged Michael's love of singing

<p>Aaron Lambert-Pool/Getty</p> Michael Jackson and his mother Katherine Jackson arrive at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for Michael Jackson's trial May 17, 2005.

Aaron Lambert-Pool/Getty

Michael Jackson and his mother Katherine Jackson arrive at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for Michael Jackson's trial May 17, 2005.

While Joe was determined to have their family’s talent recognized, Michael said it was Katherine’s own talent that inspired him to keep striving for success. Although she didn't get to sing and play instruments for an audience because of a past health condition, Michael wanted to carry on that dream for her.

“My mother knew her polio was not a curse but a test that God gave her to triumph over, and she instilled in me a love of Him that I will always have,” he wrote in his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk. “She taught me that my talent for singing and dancing was as much God’s work as a beautiful sunset or storm that left snow for children to play in.”

Michael also recounted a brief conversation he had with Ed Sullivan when The Jackson 5 performed on the late-night show in 1970. According to the late performer, the host told him, “Never forget where your talent came from, that your talent is a gift from God.”

Though a young Michael appreciated his words, Katherine had shared a similar sentiment with him all his life. “I was grateful for his kindness, but I could have told him that my mother had never let me forget," he added.

In his book, the “Billie Jean” vocalist also revealed that it was his mom who convinced Joe to let him join the band as a backup singer and bongo player.

She is an author

Matt Sayles/AP/Shutterstoc Michael Jackson's mom Katherine Jackson poses for a photo.
Matt Sayles/AP/Shutterstoc Michael Jackson's mom Katherine Jackson poses for a photo.

Katherine’s autobiography, My Family, the Jacksons, was released in January 1990 and was co-written by Richard Wiseman.

The book details Katherine's life, what it was like raising her family and her account of witnessing The Jackson 5's rise to fame. The matriarch also delves into stories about Michael's successful solo career, Janet following in her siblings' musical footsteps and much more.

Her second book, Never Can Say Goodbye: The Katherine Jackson Story, is a coffee table book filled with photos and personal memories of Michael and her children, released in 2010.

“It brought back a lot of memories and then it brought back a lot of tears, but all in all, I had fun writing it,” she told Dateline of the project.

She is a grandmother and great-grandmother

<p>Lester Cohen/WireImage</p> Prince Michael Jackson, Katherine Jackson, Blanket Jackson and Paris Jackson attend the immortalization of Michael Jackson at Grauman's Chinese Theatre Hand & Footprint ceremony on January 26, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Lester Cohen/WireImage

Prince Michael Jackson, Katherine Jackson, Blanket Jackson and Paris Jackson attend the immortalization of Michael Jackson at Grauman's Chinese Theatre Hand & Footprint ceremony on January 26, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Between her nine children who lived to adulthood, Katherine has 26 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, with many of them following the family business of joining the music and entertainment industries.

Of her many grandkids, the most famous are Michael’s three children: Prince, Paris and Bigi.

Following the Thriller singer’s death in 2009, a settlement was reached between Katherine and Debbie Rowe, the mother of Prince and Paris, regarding their care. She was granted custody of her grandchildren as their permanent guardian, with Rowe receiving visitation rights and continued spousal support.

A few years later, Katherine was suspended as the kids' guardian when she went to Arizona on her own without notice and her family reported her as missing in 2012. Shortly after, she was located and reinstated as a co-guardian with her son Tito, per The Hollywood Reporter.

The mother and son looked over Prince, Paris and Bigi's well-being until Katherine resigned as co-guardian for Bigi in 2017. By that point, Michael's youngest child was 15 years old and Tito was named Bigi's sole guardian.

Earlier that year, he thanked his grandma and uncle for always looking out for him and his siblings, calling Katherine "incredible," per ABC News.

She is in an estate dispute with her grandson Bigi

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty ; Ethan Miller/Getty</p> Bigi Jackson attends the Annual THRILLER NIGHT Halloween Party on October 28, 2022 in Encino, California. ; Katherine Jackson arrives at the world premiere of "Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil" on June 29, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kevin Winter/Getty ; Ethan Miller/Getty

Bigi Jackson attends the Annual THRILLER NIGHT Halloween Party on October 28, 2022 in Encino, California. ; Katherine Jackson arrives at the world premiere of "Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil" on June 29, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In March 2024, Katherine’s grandson Bigi took her to court, asking Michael’s estate not to fund her ongoing legal battle against the executors. According to court filings obtained by PEOPLE, Katherine is involved in a disagreement over a “recent transaction,” the details of which haven’t been disclosed to the public.

Although Katherine and Bigi both initially opposed the estate’s proposed transaction — which appears to be the estimated $600 million catalog sale of Michael’s work to Sony — a judge ruled that the deal could proceed last year. Bigi and his siblings accepted the court’s decision, but Katherine filed for an appeal.

Related: All About Michael Jackson's Younger Son Bigi Jackson

Now, Bigi argues that her request to have the estate pay her legal bills for the appeal would be “unfair.”

"It is readily apparent that a reversal on appeal would be an extreme longshot,” lawyers wrote on his behalf. “Given those odds, Bigi decided not to waste his resources to participate in an appeal. Nonetheless, Katherine has decided to appeal this court’s ruling. That decision is not for the benefit of the heirs.”

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