I was reading through the June issue of Harper’s Magazine and came across a letter from Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson that was sent after Michael’s hair was accidentally burned while filming a Pepsi commerical. I wanted to post the letter here, so I searched for it hoping I would find it and not have to type it myself. I found it and a whole lot more.
Here’s the letter that started my search:
I was pleased to learn that you were not seriously hurt in your recent accident. I know from experience that these things can happen on the set–no matter how much caution is excercised. All over America, millions of people look up to you as an example. Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us, especially young people searching for something real to believe in. You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back” and Nancy and I are among them. Keep up the good work, Michael. We’re very happy for you.
In addition to the letter, I found this New York Times “The Caucus” blog post that gives a rundown of the relationship between Reagan and Jackson. There I learned that Jackson visited the White House in May 1984 and also appeared with Reagan at an anti-drunk-driving event.
In September of 1984, Jackson invited Reagan to a “Victory Tour” concert at RFK stadium. Reagan’s office drafted a letter to decline the invitation and to invite Michael Jackson back to the White House, but this time with his brothers.
The letter was reviewed by a young associate counsel who objected to Reagan signing the letter. The associate was John G. Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
David Weigel at The Washington Independent got a laugh out of this part of Robert’s rejection:
In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?
Prince, the “newcomer,” was touring in support of his sixth album, Purple Rain.
That’s pretty funny, but I thought this part was even better:
Why, for example, was no letter sent to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose patriotic tour recently visited the area?
Yes… another clueless Republican who heard only the chorus to “Born in the U.S.A” and never bothered to listen to the verses. Springsteen’s 1984 tour was not patriotic in any way, and he loathed the Reagan Administration.
Reagan wasn’t a very smart man, but he did recognize a foe when he saw one. Young John G. Roberts? Not so smart…