At first glance you wonder what beaming young actress Tatum O’Neil sees in her older date, his features obscured by a huge afro and bushy beard.
But the eyes are the giveaway – beneath the elaborate disguise is a 24-year-old Michael Jackson, hoping to enjoy a concert with his first girlfriend in blissful anonymity.
The 1982 snap documents one of the many “crazy nights” Tatum, then 18, says she shared with Jacko. And while the singer came to be mocked for the crazy disguises he adopted, this one was clearly a work of genius.When the snap resurfaced recently, a now 45-year-old Tatum told pals: “We were going to a Kool And The Gang concert, but Michael didn’t want to be spotted.
“He got a special effects guy to help. We had an amazing night. No one recognised us, but we did get some strange looks as he appeared so much older than me.” A Jacko insider reckoned the get-up – put together by Oscar-winning special effects artist Rick Baker, who worked on the Thriller video – cost thousands of dollars.
They added: “Michael loved it. He thought it was so much fun. Rick created this beard and did some work on Michael’s lips. He also gave him make-up to make his skin darker.” Jacko and Tatum, who won an Oscar aged 12 for her part in Paper Moon, got together in 1977 in California. The next day they partied at the Playboy mansion and shared a hot tub – in swimming costumes.
Their relationship grew as they spent hours on the phone. Tatum said: “He was a huge star but it seemed he barely even dated and knew little about life. “He once came to my house and asked to come upstairs because he’d never been in a girl’s bedroom. He sat on the bed and we kissed very briefly, but it was all very awkward.”
They split shortly after this photo and Jacko went on to date another former child star, Brooke Shields.
His bids to conceal his identity also became increasingly bizarre. The most recent incident, in April, saw him wear a surgical mask and green blazer in LA. He was spotted in the same city last December in a trilby and black eye mask.
Earlier that year he was pushed around Las Vegas in a wheelchair in pyjamas, baseball cap and dreadlock wig. And in 2007, Jacko went shopping in Bahrain in the veil and abaya worn by conservative women there.