Vintage

The Strange Coincidence Behind Michael Jackson's White House Visit With Ronald Reagan

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It was probably the most bizarre official visit to the White House since Richard Nixon and the King of Rock and Roll famously shook hands. Michael Jackson, the newly crowned King of Pop, and President Ronald Reagan stood together on the White House lawn in front of reporters.

Reagan, who was 73 when Jackson visited him and Nancy, wasn't known for his love of catchy pop hits. So why had he invited Jackson to the White House in 1984? It turns out the two men shared a surprising connection.

Earlier that year, the success of Michael Jackson's album Thriller earned him a huge publicity deal with Pepsi. Jackson was paid $5 million - the most expensive endorsement contract of all time back then - to star in a pair of Pepsi commercials and to feature soft drink ads at his concerts.

But as you might remember, tragedy struck on set of Jackson's iconic Pepsi commercial. The star had been told to stand under fireworks during his dramatic entrance, which set his gelled hair on fire. Jackson kept dancing while his hair was burning, which only made his injuries worse.

Jackson is wheeled into a hospital after the accident.Bettman/CORBIS

Despite a number of surgeries, the third-degree burns on Jackson's head never fully healed, and the star wore a wig for the rest of his life. While he was recovering in the hospital, the musician received a letter from an unlikely source: President Reagan.

It turns out that decades earlier the president had been in much the same situation as Jackson.

Click to the next page to learn about Reagan's on-set accident!

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