Suffolk woman tells of Jacko friendship

A FORMER journalist has revealed how she had a six-month friendship with Michael Jackson after he paid her for memorabilia devoted to one of his idols.

Dave Gooderham

A FORMER journalist has revealed how she had a six-month friendship with Michael Jackson after he paid her for memorabilia devoted to one of his idols.

Josie Stephenson, from Sudbury, last night told how she met with the pop legend in a West End hotel after she approached him with four scrapbooks devoted to the life of silent comedian Charlie Chaplin.

Jackson, who bought the newspaper cuttings and old photos for about �200, then struck up a friendship which lasted about six months - and included the world famous performer calling Mrs Stephenson “out of the blue” on several occasions.


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Now as the world mourns the death of the self-titled “King of Pop”, Mrs Stephenson has spoken for the first time about their long-distance friendship in the late 1970s.

Mrs Stephenson, 70, said she first approached Jackson after reading that he idolised Chaplin.

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The scrapbooks included photographs, film reviews and press cuttings devoted to Chaplin - who Jackson was a massive fan of.

The cheeky offer of a sale, which was inspired by the need to pay for her son's school fees, found Mrs Stephenson in the same hotel room as the leader singer of the Jackson 5 who was on the verge of worldwide stardom.

She said: “I was never into his music. At the time I had no idea how talented he was, just that he was extraordinarily famous. He was dressed in brilliant white pyjamas and astonishingly, he was wearing a large pith helmet.

“He was very knowledgeable about Chaplin, especially for someone so young, and he told me he particularly liked Chaplin's acrobatics.”

But the “surreal experience” - which saw the pop star give Mrs Stephenson's T-shirts and a copy of his latest album - did not end there after an unexpected call just months after.

She explained: “I got a phone call completely out of the blue. I was cooking dinner when a voice said 'hi Mrs Stephenson'. I wondered who the heck it was and then he said it was Michael Jackson. I thought someone was having a laugh at first.

“The first call lasted about an hour and we talked about general things like his work and even the weather. I remember him keep saying how nice it was to talk to someone, implying that he was lonely.

“My daughter, Jane, was speechless and her street cred soared. The phone calls lasted for about six months and then they just stopped suddenly without any warning.”

She added: “My abiding memory was that he was a lovely lad but his face only ever sparkled when he was looking at the scrapbooks.”

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