Michael Jackson was an American entertainer who spent over four decades in the public eye, first as a child star with the Jackson 5 and later as a solo artist. From the mid-1980s, Jackson's appearance began to change. The changes to his face, particularly his nose, triggered widespread speculation of extensive cosmetic surgery, and his skin tone became much lighter.

Jackson was diagnosed with the skin disorder vitiligo, which results in white patches on the skin and sensitivity to sunlight. Michael Jackson's vitiligo was hereditary. Jackson had inherited it from his father's side. Jackson first noticed his skin condition as a teenager, where pale spots started to appear on his skin.

To treat the condition, he used to wear fair-colored makeup and likely skin whitening prescription creams to cover up the uneven blotches of color caused by the illness. The creams would have further lightened his skin. The lighter skin resulted in criticism that he was trying to appear white but Jackson said he had not purposely bleached his skin and that he was not trying to be anything he was not.

Jackson and some of his siblings said they had been physically and psychologically abused by their father Joe Jackson. In 2003, Joe admitted to whipping them as children, but he emphatically rejected the longstanding abuse allegations.

The whippings deeply traumatized Jackson and may have led to the onset of further health problems later in his life. Physicians speculated that he had body dysmorphic disorder.

At some point during the 1990s, it appeared that Jackson had become dependent on prescription drugs, mainly painkillers and strong sedatives. The drug use was later linked to second-and third-degree burns he had suffered years before. Jackson gradually became dependent on these drugs, and his health deteriorated. He went into rehabilitation in 1993.

While preparing for a series of comeback concerts scheduled to begin in July 2009, Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009. His physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in his death and sentenced to four years in prison.