A vintage video of Michael Jackson’s hair catching on fire during the third take of a 1983 Pepsi commercial was played for jurors Thursday as a makeup artist testified about the devastating migraine headaches the pop singer endured because of the injuries.
“I never saw anything like that in my life,” Karen Faye testified. “This was someone I knew and he was on fire.”
Faye, who worked with Jackson for 27 years as both a makeup and hair artist, took the stand in the second week of a wrongful death suit the singer’s mother and children filed against concert promoter AEG, which was bankrolling what was to be his comeback tour when the entertainer died in 2009 of a drug overdose.
Her testimony sometimes growing emotional, Faye recalled that when Jackson’s hair caught on fire, he continued dancing down the stairs, having no idea he was burning. Finally, a friend of his ran onto the stage and wrestled him to the ground to put it out.
“All his hair was gone and there was smoke coming out of his head.”
Jackson, she said, suffered intense migraines while the burns were healing, Faye said.
Instead of suing Pepsi, she said, Jackson asked Pepsi to build a burn center at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City where the singer was treated. “Everybody thought he’d sue Pepsi because it was a mistake,” the makeup artist said.
Brian Panish, an attorney for Jackson’s mother and three children, played a video of Jackson’s hair catching on fire and another of the singer falling several stories during a concert in Munich.
In the second instance, she said, Jackson fell three or four stories when a prop he was standing on collapsed.
“When I saw what happen, I thought he could be dead,” Faye said.
But Jackson, she said, pulled himself up and continued performing. “I can’t disappoint the audience,” she said he later told her.
When he finished, he collapsed and security took him to the hospital, she said.
The fall, she said, left Jackson with back pain that flared when he was under physical or emotional stress.
The Jacksons are suing entertainment giant AEG, saying the firm negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol.
AEG says Jackson hired Murray and any payments the company was supposed to give him were actually part of a multimillion-dollar advance to Jackson.