Michael Jackson, the Los Angeles talk radio personality who spent 32 years at KABC Radio and was syndicated on the ABC Radio Network for nearly a decade, died peacefully today at his LA home after a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, a family spokesperson tells Deadline. He was 87.
“The world knew and adored our Michael Jackson. But Michael’s home was California, Los Angeles, America,” said Jackson’s frequent radio guest, former California Senator Barbara Boxer in a statement. “For that we are grateful.”
During Jackson’s time at KABC between 1966 and 1998, he interviewed hundreds of public figures including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, along with Heads of State, governors, senators, A-List film and TV stars, authors, musicians, singers and artists.
“It was a testament to Michael, that so many of the guests and celebrities preferred to actually come in studio, rather than do phoners. With his British accent and boyhood charm, Michael made people comfortable, they opened up. That was his gift,” observed Lyle Gregory, Jackson’s show producer of 30 years and close family friend. “Michael molded an interview into conversation, news and information. Like two people sitting at a kitchen table talking. A table, an open window, where millions tuned in daily across the nation, so many of them referring to Michael as their personal University.”
The radio personality was born in England on April 16, 1934, launching his career as a disc jockey in South Africa when his family moved there following World War II. In 1958, he and his family relocated once again—this time, to the United States—with Jackson continuing his career as a DJ for San Francisco’s KYA and KEWB before moving to L.A to work at KHJ, KNX, and later, KABC.
Jackson married movie star Alan Ladd’s daughter Alana Ladd—who passed away in 2014—in 1965, with his career in radio going on to span five decades. Following his time at KABC, he went on to host talk shows for KRLA, KLAC and KGIL before retiring in 2007 at the age of 73.
Jackson received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984, was named the Los Angeles Times’ “Number One Radio Talk Host of the Year” in 1997 and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2003. He was a Member of the Order of the British Empire who also earned accolades throughout his career including four Golden Mike Awards, an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Western School of Law and the French Legion of Merit Award. More than 2,000 of his radio interviews are housed in the Library of Congress.
Jackson’s children Alan Jackson, Alisa Magno and Devon Jackson ask that “everyone honor” their father’s “time-honored legacy by being polite and good to one another. To unite as one people and to uphold Democracy in the America that our Father so cherished and promoted throughout his life on-air and at home.
“We are grateful for our Loving Father,” they added, “and to those of you who loved him too.”
In addition to his children, Jackson is survived by their spouses Heidi, Tom and Sarah, and his grandchildren Taylor, Emily, Adeline, Amelia and Hugo. Plans for a memorial have not yet been disclosed. Those looking to pay tribute to Jackson’s memory may do so by donating to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in “Memory of Talk Radio Broadcaster Michael Robin Jackson” at this link.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.