CBS NEWS: Michael Jackson fighting for his life?

By: Richard Roth, CBS News
By: Richard Roth, CBS News

(CBS) As one journalist recently put it, "rumors are all anyone hears about Michael Jackson these days," and the current claim comes from a writer working on a Jackson biography.

Quoted in Britain's Daily Express, the writer says Jackson may now be fighting for his life - ill with a rare lung condition, in need of a transplant, but too weak to undergo surgery.

There's no public comment from Jackson's official spokeswoman. The singer's brother has simply said it's not a good time, and that Jackson's not doing so well.

Twenty-six years after the release of "Thriller," it's still the best-selling record of all time. But Jackson long ago lost his stature as the King of Pop.

"He's the ultimate showman - or was," says show business commentator Neil Sean. "I think we're talking in the league of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley; he will go down as one of those people, but there's a sad sort of tinge because what people remember are the court cases, the ill-advised publicity deals."

...And the oddities. The facemask was always one hint he was worried about his health. The current claim is that his lung condition has left him so weak he can barely speak.

Acquitted at his trial three years ago of accusations of child abuse, Jackson's never shaken whispered charges of drug or alcohol abuse.

Money problems forced him out of his private "Neverland" theme park, where he used to play with a chimpanzee named Bubbles.

But ill health was said to be the reason he avoided a recent court date in a big money lawsuit. Now, the claim is that excuse was legitimate.

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