People like to assume that the rich and famous have everything made for themselves. Before public scandals, one might have thought the same about La Toya Jackson and her family. These facts about La Toya’s harrowing life certainly prove otherwise.
1. She Was A Shy Child
La Toya Jackson, the fifth of ten Jackson children born to Joe and Katherine Jackson—and sister of Michael Jackson—was born in 1956 in Gary, Indiana. La Toya was shy as a child but still managed to go door-to-door preaching with her mother and siblings in Los Angeles, spreading the word of Jehovah. She definitely broke out of her shell as a teen…
2. She Took To The Spotlight
When La Toya Jackson turned 16, she began to perform alongside her brothers, doing tap routines in Las Vegas or wherever their father could arrange shows for them. While La Toya would go on to perform in a variety of capacities throughout her life and not just tap-dancing, she aspired to do something else in life, not just perform.
3. Her Father Pressured Her To Perform
La Toya’s father, Joe Jackson, insisted that she go into show business instead of pursuing a degree in business law. Because of this familial pressure, La Toya appeared in all of the episodes of The Jacksons, alongside her siblings Rebbie, Janet, Jackie, Tito, Marlon, Randy, and Michael. Not only did she have to dance, but she had to sing and perform skits—but that wasn’t all she was getting up to.
4. She Was A Serial Dater
Although La Toya was relatively busy singing and performing alongside her family, she also had a scandalous side. La Toya dated a number of famous men throughout her young life. In fact, she dated Diana Ross’s brother, Chich, as well as David Gest—yes, the one who was with Liza Minelli. La Toya went on to have a troubled path when it came to dating—but it wasn’t always tempestuous and dramatic.
5. She Was An Inspiration
La Toya must’ve had a pretty big impact on R&B singer Bobby DeBarge during their relationship considering he wrote a song about her. He wrote “I Call Your Name” in 1979 for Switch, which La Toya inspired. Could you imagine having such an influence on someone that they write a hit song about you? She must’ve really done a number on him—but he wasn’t the only one.
6. Her Father Pushed Her To Join The Band
La Toya’s father, Joe, pushed her and her sister Janet to form a musical group alongside their brother Reggie. Unfortunately, it blew up in his face. The group hardly got along, citing creative differences as the reason that they eventually broke up. The group never even made it to performing live, and not a single song was ever released by the three siblings. That wasn’t the only time that family drama prevailed either…
7. She Went Solo
After the music group that her father formed between the siblings failed, La Toya decided that she wanted to go solo, similar to some of her siblings. In 1980, she began to work on an album that she wanted to be self-titled, hoping for success as an individual. However, La Toya didn’t have the support that she wanted from her family.
8. She Couldn’t Just Be Her
La Toya desperately wanted her album to be self-titled, with just her first name. She thought that if she dropped her last name on the album, she would be able to distinguish herself from her more famous brothers, like Michael. Unfortunately, La Toya’s father had other ideas.
9. She Hit Widespread Success
Joe Jackson forced La Toya to use her last name on the album, even though she protested. Despite the production of La Toya’s first album being riddled with family drama, she did have some success when it came to her two singles, “If You Feel the Funk” and “Night Time Lover.” Notably, “If You Feel the Funk” reached the R&B Top 40 chart in the US. Over the years, La Toya earned huge numbers and released two more albums. But the success wouldn’t last...
10. Her Record Label Went Bankrupt
Just as La Toya Jackson was gaining significant popularity and becoming an international success, her record label, Private-I, went bankrupt. The bankruptcy resulted in poor promotion for La Toya’s 1986 album. Despite this failure, La Toya was able to further her career with two duets, one with Cerrone and one with the artist Jed. But her new management would change everything...
11. Her Manager Changed Her Look
In 1987, La Toya’s father hired Jack Gordon to help co-manage her, which resulted in a significant change in her look. Gordon ensured that La Toya’s public image would be sexier, having her dance provocatively. This radical change in behavior shocked her mother Katherine, which she noted in her autobiography. This wasn’t the only time Gordon would change La Toya…
12. Her Manager Dominated Her
There was a chilling dark side to La Toya’s relationship with Jack Gordon. The entertainment manager ultimately dominated La Toya and had her distance herself from the Jackson family. She ended up permanently moving out of her family’s residence in Encino and into a residence in New York City. For the first time in her life, La Toya had autonomy from her family.
Sadly, it wasn’t real freedom that she was experiencing. Gordon was pulling the strings like a puppet master.
13. She Felt Independent
Since La Toya faced “independence” for the first time in her life, she finally had the ability to release a self-titled album with just her first name. She also declared her independence from her parents by posing shirtless in a 1989 issue of Playboy magazine, stating that she was in control of her life. But she was hiding a heartbreaking truth…
14. Her Manager Brutalized Her
While La Toya was more than happy to pose for Playboy the first time, the second time wasn’t as sweet. Initially, she didn’t want to pose for the spread or for the video—and Gordon’s reaction was utterly disgusting. He beat her until she agreed. This harrowing experience turned her life into a waking nightmare. It sadly wasn’t the last time Gordon brutalized her.
15. She Married Her Abuser
Despite Gordon’s violent behavior, La Toya’s professional connection with him turned into a relationship. In 1989, they tied the knot in Reno, Nevada. This marriage came as a shock to many of her closest friends, as she had been dating another man named George at the time. Well, La Toya’s marriage to Gordon went on to produce many more shocking moments…
16. She Was Forced to Marry
Later in life, La Toya stated that Gordon horribly forced her to marry him against her will. However, Gordon clapped back, stating that he was only protecting her from her family. Gordon tried to convince La Toya he married her so that her family wouldn’t abduct her. That wasn’t the only depressing thing about their marriage…
17. She Didn’t Love Him
Not only did Gordon force La Toya to marry him, but she actually didn’t have any feelings for him whatsoever. Because she didn’t love him, she refused to consummate the marriage, even when he tried to force himself on her. Eventually, La Toya tried to convey her lack of feelings towards him—and it went absolutely horribly.
18. She Asked For An Annulment
About six months into La Toya and Gordon’s marriage, she decided that she wanted an annulment. She asked Gordon for one while they were in Rome, Italy. This infuriated the controlling and dangerous Gordon—and his reply was so disturbing, it’s unforgettable. Gordon told her that he would never let her go. Unfortunately, he didn’t only use his words to relay the message to his wife.
19. Her Husband Horribly Beat Her
When La Toya requested that she and her husband get an annulment, his terrifying reply was just the start of the nightmare. Gordon went on to beat her in their hotel room. He hit her head against the corner of a table, resulting in black eyes. Of course, Gordon did not admit that he had brutalized his wife, and instead stated that they had an intruder in their hotel room who caused the bruises—but the ordeal wasn’t over yet.
20. She Lost Contact With Her Family
After the horrible incident in Rome, La Toya penned an autobiography. In the book, she wrote that she faced physical trauma at the hands of her father, Joe. While she was already incredibly distanced from her family, this book must’ve put the nail in the coffin for their relationship. I’m sure La Toya felt extremely lonely—and her horrifically abusive relationship just made things worse.
21. She Faced Continuous Harm
Unfortunately, La Toya faced the terror of harm at the hands of Gordon every single day for roughly the next 10 years of her life. Through this terror, La Toya’s husband Gordon controlled her. He even went as far as taking away her passport and taking control of her funds. Gordon monitored every single one of La Toya’s moves—and even professional success couldn’t save her.
22. She Ditched Her Contract
In 1992, La Toya had the chance to perform at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France, starring in Formidable. Even though the show was successful and La Toya was being paid extremely well, she decided to ditch the contract nearly six months in. This decision resulted in La Toya owing the Moulin Rouge just over half a million dollars—but that wasn’t the only trouble she was in.
23. Her Husband Was Incarcerated
Only a year later, La Toya’s husband Gordon hit her multiple times with a dining room chair. This trauma gave La Toya two black eyes, many cuts which required stitches, a swollen lip, and a swollen chin. The authorities detained him for the incident, but released him after he stated the attack was out of self-defense. He was a master manipulator, and law enforcement weren’t his only victims.
24. Her Husband Forced Her To Speak
In the same year that Gordon faced prison time, he forced La Toya to speak out against her younger brother Michael Jackson, stating that she believed there was truth behind the allegations that he harmed children. Gordon tried to sell La Toya’s “proof” for half a million dollars, which incited bidding amongst US and UK tabloids. But there was a sad truth behind this episode.
25. Her Siblings’ Lives Were Threatened
It seems that La Toya never wanted to speak out against her brother Michael—and the reason why she’d done it was absolutely devastating. She said that her husband had threatened to kill her siblings if she didn’t do it. When the tabloids realized that La Toya didn’t actually have any “proof,” the bidding between the tabloids fizzled. Sadly, she could’ve used the money…
26. Her Career Steadily Declined
Over time, thanks to Gordon’s poor entertainment management, La Toya’s career steadily declined. He had her take a series of horrible jobs, then had her participate in a number of publicity stunts that framed her as the Jackson family’s “black sheep.” After everything she had already been through, she would go through even more.
27. She Filed For Bankruptcy
La Toya’s career and finances had tanked so badly that she needed to file for bankruptcy to avoid needing to pay what she owed to the Moulin Rouge. She ended up taking exceedingly random jobs such as performing at a Polish festival, releasing a step aerobics video, appeared in a Playboy video, and releasing a country music album.
28. She Had Enough Terror
After everything she’d been through, La Toya finally reached a horrifying breaking point. She found out that her husband Gordon was planning to have her star in an adult movie. La Toya finally decided to reach out to her brother Randy, who ultimately helped her to escape her abusive relationship with Gordon. I bet she must’ve breathed a sigh of relief when she finally got away from her abuser. It was an important turning point after a decade of misery.
29. She Finally Filed For Divorce
After a horrible marriage to a terrible man, La Toya finally filed for divorce from Gordon while she was in Las Vegas. She separated herself legally and in name. She changed her name back to La Toya Jackson from La Toya Jackson-Gordon, which signified that she would eventually rebuild her relationship with the Jacksons. And that wasn’t all she did.
30. She Sued Her Ex
Not only did La Toya divorce Gordon, but she actually sued him under the Violence Against Women Act too. She did so in civil court while claiming that he abused her for many years during their marriage. The duplicitous Gordon denied these claims for the rest of his life. In any case, La Toya was able to return home to her family—and finally talk about what had happened.
31. She Returned Home
After ending her marriage, La Toya returned back home to her parents in Hayvenhurst. La Toya was also not blamed for her treatment of Michael. Apparently, he knew Gordon forced her to speak against him. Forgiveness was one step, but La Toya had a long way to go yet…
32. She Never Left Her Home
The aftermath of La Toya’s marriage to Jack Gordon was absolutely devastating. After filing for her divorce and her lawsuit against Gordon, La Toya never left her home. While she lived alone for the first time, she was still entirely horrified to leave her place in case she ran into her dangerous ex-husband on the street. At the same time, La Toya struggled greatly on a personal level...
33. She Felt Personal Struggle
After years of working horrible jobs set up by her ex-husband Gordon and being viewed negatively in the public eye, La Toya felt nervous to get back to performing. She faced issues with her confidence after the media spoke poorly of her singing skills, dance skills, and talent in general. Despite these problems, La Toya eventually got back on stage…
34. She Tried To Pay Her Debts
Before La Toya and Gordon’s marriage ended, Gordon racked up a significant amount of debt under her name which she attempted to pay off by performing in Europe and South America. Then, La Toya began to write music for the first time after her traumatic divorce. I’m sure she must’ve been happy to get back to what she loved—but then tragedy struck.
35. She Composed Once Again
Watching the horrible events of 9/11 had a dire effect on La Toya Jackson—but she turned her profound grief into healing. She composed a number of songs, and when she performed them to a close group of her friends, she received positive compliments, which pushed her to write more and more music. La Toya wrote so much music that she had a full album at the end, called Startin’ Over. It was time to see how the public would react to her…
36. She Re-Emerged To The Public
La Toya publicly re-emerged for the first time since her divorce in early 2003 on Larry King Live. It was during that show that La Toya announced her newest album to the public for the first time in six years. Based on her previous experiences and self-confidence issues, La Toya must’ve felt so free—but in one sense, she was still hiding from the world.
37. She Released New Music
La Toya had some songs from Startin’ Over released independently and under a secret name to avoid prejudices in the DJ world. She also had her label distribute the album through the Universal Music Group—but it led to a near-disaster when the music accidentally leaked online. As a result, La Toya actually re-recorded the album with entirely new music.
She was like a new woman—but the past was about to catch up with her.
38. Her Loss Set Her Free
In 2005, La Toya faced the loss of her sadistic ex-husband Gordon. As a result, La Toya was finally able to speak out against him, and also to express her own opinions without his influence. She was free to speak how she wanted and when she wanted. Finally, she had so much more control over her own life and her own actions.
39. She Defended Her Brother
Without Gordon’s pressure, La Toya finally defended her family members against her previous statements and even defended Michael when new charges emerged against him. After everything that she had been through, La Toya’s allegiance stuck with her birth family.
40. She Appeared On Reality Television
La Toya spent the next part of her career appearing on reality television shows such as Armed & Famous and Celebrity Big Brother. On Armed & Famous, La Toya completed basic training as an officer, which she used while volunteering as a deputy. I bet that Gordon would have never allowed her to appear on a television show like that.
41. She Started Her Own Series
A few years after her brother’s passing, La Toya starred in a reality series called Life With La Toya. The show chronicled her daily life while also showcasing her newest business ventures, her new home, and her attempt to start dating again after her disastrous marriage to her ex, Jack Gordon.
42. He Fired Her
La Toya also made multiple appearances on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. In La Toya’s first season on the series, she appeared twice and Trump fired her both times. The third time she appeared on the series, Trump fired La Toya after she lost a challenge where she had to be a project manager. Trump refused to allow her to return to the show. Probably for the best…
43. Her Relationship Status Was Mistaken
In 2013, rumors spread that La Toya Jackson had married Jeffre Phillips, her new business partner. At the time, the pair weren’t actually married or engaged. It was all false. However, not too long after the marriage rumors spread, Phillips caught La Toya off-guard.
44. Her Partner Proposed
During an episode of La Toya’s own reality television show, her business partner Phillips proposed to her. After being friends for 15 years, Phillips decided to ask La Toya’s father for her hand in marriage—and her reaction was even more surprising. She said yes. After years of hurt by her ex-husband Gordon, La Toya finally was with someone she could truly trust.
45. She Broke Off Her Engagement
Unfortunately, La Toya and Phillips never married. They broke off their engagement, but they are still great friends despite it all. La Toya and Phillips remained business partners with Phillips still managing La Toya’s public appearances and them both acting as producers of a documentary together.
46. Her Sister Smacked Her
In 1992, both La Toya and her sister Janet happened to be in Minneapolis. La Toya, still married to her abusive manager Jack Gordon, was taping an Exotic Club Tour, while Janet was recording an album. La Toya decided to seek out Janet, looking for help out of her abusive relationship. When they met, La Toya made a heartbreaking plea to her sister. Janet’s reaction was utterly cold-blooded. She believed that La Toya was recording them, and viciously smacked her.
47. She Exposed Her Fear
While on the show Armed & Famous, La Toya exposed one of her great fears. She was afraid of cats due to an unfortunate incident when she was a child and a cat attacked one of her family members. She kept on appearing on TV—until a very tragic loss upended her life.
48. She Suffered A Tragic Loss
La Toya lost her younger brother Michael after he suffered from cardiac arrest in 2009—but few know her strange role in what happened that day. La Toya was the family member who signed Michael’s death certificate…but only after Conrad Murray, Michael’s physician, absolutely refused to do so. However, La Toya felt like something was fishy.
She decided to look deeper into Michael’s tragic and sudden passing.
49. She Fought For The Truth
La Toya felt that there was something wrong with how the authorities ruled Michael’s passing. This was intensified after she found weird objects in his house and discovered that a large amount of money had disappeared. As a result, La Toya asked for a second autopsy on her brother’s body. La Toya became the driving force behind getting justice for Michael’s passing, as the coroner ultimately ruled it a homicide.
50. Her Life Post-Chaos
In her tell-all, La Toya Jackson revealed the details of her father Joe Jackson’s cruel treatment of his children. However, years later, when Joe passed on, her reaction was utterly heartbreaking. In an Instagram post, she wrote: "I will always love you! You gave us strength, you disciplined us in your own way, you made us one of the most famous families in the world. I am extremely appreciative of that."
She also revealed that she'd spent extensive time with him in the hospital before his passing. It appears that after all these years, La Toya Jackson finally found her way back to her family.