A day after UsMagazine.com posted graphic footage of the 1984 accident in which [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist]‘s hair caught on fire while shooting a commercial for Pepsi, the beverage maker issued a statement condemning the video’s release.
“We don’t know how the footage became available. Twenty-five years later, we’d question why anyone would want to share such frightening images,” Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley wrote in a statement obtained by EW.com. “It was a terrifying event that we’ll never forget. We were grateful for Michael’s recovery and for the chance to continue working with him on a number of successful projects. As for Michael as an artist, his music helped us define a generation and, like everyone else, we’re deeply saddened by his passing.”
Without explaining how the footage was obtained, Us labeled the video: “How Michael Jackson’s Pill Addiction Began: The harrowing, never-before-seen footage of the singer’s 1984 Pepsi commercial accident.”
While the story of how Jackson’s hair caught fire when a pyrotechnic stunt went awry during the filming of the commercial is well known, the Us video purported to contain never-before-seen film of the accident. The shoot took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 27, 1984, and featured Jackson performing with his siblings. While descending the stairs on the sixth take, a firework went off early and ignited Jackson’s hair. The singer seemed unaware that his hair had caught fire at first, and even executed a few of his trademark spins, but when he turned around to walk to the back of the stage, crew members took notice and quickly extinguished the flames.
Jackson was seriously injured in the accident, suffering second- and third-degree burns to his scalp and body. According to Us, the painful recovery and multiple surgeries following the incident are said by a number of unnamed sources to be the genesis of Jackson’s alleged longtime addiction to prescription painkillers and obsession with plastic surgery.
Jackson donated the $1.5 million settlement he obtained from Pepsi after the accident to the Brotman Memorial Hospital in Culver City, California, to establish the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.
Bradley told EW that Pepsi is not currently trying to get the footage taken down because it may not own the rights to the clip. “We don’t know where it came from,” she said. “We don’t know what that footage is. It’s 25 years ago. We don’t know who owns it, so we have no recourse as far as I know. I can only tell you what I know. We didn’t put it up and we don’t know where it came from.”
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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