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|Subject: People Extra, Dec 30, 1984 Sun May 06, 2012 7:43 am|| |
It was sheer curiosity that drew Alice Heap, 83, and her kid sister, Elizabeth, 77, to a Jackson concert in Knoxville, Tenn. A schoolteacher for 45 years, Alice is interested in the young. When reporter Marti Levary told Jackson security agents that two elderly ladies were in the audience, the women were invited backstage. “I see you have your earplugs in,” a costumed man impishly told Alice. “Who are you?” Alice Heap asked, understandably confused by the scene. “I’m Michael Jackson,” her bemused host said, squeezing her hand, which she later used to applaud enthusiastically.
Frank Dileo, a 5’2″ man with a bountiful belly, sat at the top of the 30-foot Banzai Boggan water roller coaster at Wet’n Wild in Orlando, blinking like a Buddha suddenly robbed of its serenity.
“C’mon, Uncle Tookie, c’mon down!” implored Michael Jackson from below.
Tookie giggled nervously; already he missed his cigar. Hadn’t he known that being Jackson’s manager meant being a barracuda in a three-piece suit one moment and a babe in bathing trunks the next? Hadn’t he left the 9-to-5 world because he yearned for new challenges?
“TOO-KIE, TOO-KIE,” Michael chanted impatiently.
Dileo repositioned his rump on the raft, closed his eyes, grabbed the sides of the chute with his two beefy arms and launched himself downward. The first half was exhilarating, but suddenly Uncle Tookie was hydroplaning, half in control, half out. It was kind of like managing Michael Jackson during the Victory tour.
His arms flailed, his ears caught Michael’s cackle, his body pitched headfirst toward the pool below. Geronimoooooooo…
Another odd thing about this morning: His wife Linda, 36, is in the room. Since he took the job, she and the two kids had become strangers; the children had even refused to speak to him on the phone. He could tell Michael felt badly about it. Every few days the singer would ask, “Did you call home, Uncle Tookie? Did you tell your kids you love them today?”
“I look at everything as being funny,” he says. Sometimes he tells Jackson his zipper’s down, or that he has just ordered fried chicken for him from room service, or sings Born to Run so off-key Michael runs for cover.
Sometimes Jackson wanders into Dileo’s room while Tookie’s working and goes through all his mail, or wanders into his L.A. office and goes through every drawer. Sometimes the two just sit and watch reruns of The Honeymooners.
12:15 a.m.: Tookie goes to Jackson’s suite to make sure everything’s okay. Michael reaches into Dileo’s pocket, removes $4,000, tosses it into the bathtub and starts to turn on the water. Tookie tackles him on the bed to get the money back. It is almost as much fun as the time Michael tossed Tookie’s cash out a car window, or the day he coiled his pet boa constrictor, Muscles, around Dileo and watched him flee Michael’s mansion in horror.
Midnight to 3 a.m. is the time Dileo and Jackson usually spend discussing business and receiving special guests. One night in Dallas, it was a 9-year-old boy who had a brain tumor and spinal cancer, rushed up to Michael’s room on a stretcher. Dileo turned away in tears when the boy weakly reached up with a gloved hand to touch his idol, but then Tookie once more saw in Jackson the sinew beneath the satin. “Don’t feel sad, don’t cry,” he told Dileo. “This is why I’m here.”