Who is La Toya Yvonne Jackson? The entertainment and acting world knows her as LaToya Jackson. Jackson is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, television personality, actress, businesswoman, activist and former model . She is the fifth child of the Jackson family. She had a career as a singer throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and returned to music in 2004 with her Billboard charting songs "Just Wanna Dance" and "Free the World". A
forthcoming album, Startin' Over, has yet to be released.
Biography and career
Early lifeRebbie's 6th birthday on May 29, 1956, in Gary, Indiana, La Toya Jackson is the fifth of ten children born to Joseph and Katherine Jackson and the middle female child between Rebbie and Janet. Growing up, La Toya was a shy homebody. After her mother became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1965, La Toya, along with the rest of her siblings followed. She would spend some of her time (alongside her mother) preaching door-to-door. "Every morning, Michael and I witnessed, knocking on doors around Los Angeles, spreading the word of Jehovah." By 1972, at sixteen, La Toya joined her brothers in the spotlight with a tap dancing routine when her father arranged for them to perform shows in Las Vegas, among other cities. Jackson aspired to be an attorney specializing in business law. She attended college for a short time before her father insisted that she pursue a career in show business like the rest of the family.
1970s: The JacksonsRebbie and Janet appeared in all twelve episodes of "The Jacksons", with their brothers Jackie, Tito, Marlon, Michael and Randy a variety program on CBS. Along with their brothers (minus Jermaine), La Toya and her sisters sang, danced and performed skits. In 1978 during the filming of The Wiz La Toya traveled with her brother to New York. Sharing an apartment, it was the first time either of them had lived elsewhere as adults. Close siblings Michael and La Toya would not move out of the family's Encino home until they were 30 and 31 respectively.
Gentleman callers during this period included Diana Ross' brother Chico, Prince, and a young David Gest. Jackson also dated Bobby DeBarge, and was the inspiration for Switch's 1979 hit "I Call Your Name" and 1980's "You and I".
Under Joe Jackson's tutelage Rebbie, La Toya and Janet formed a short-lived musical group. However, they never performed live and soon separated because of creative differences about the act's future direction. As a consequence no related material was ever released by the trio. The next year she began work on her first solo album.
1980-83: Solo careerself-titled debut. In order to distinguish herself from her famous brothers, The Jacksons, La Toya only wanted her first name on the album. "I begged just to have it 'La Toya'. But my father said, 'It's your last name. You got to use it.' But I wanted to see what I could do as an individual." The first single "If You Feel the Funk", became a modest hit, climbing into the Top 40 of the US R&B chart. Her second single, "Night Time Lover", was produced by younger brother Michael who provided backing vocals. In turn, she provided the opening scream on her brothers', The Jacksons, 1980 hit, "This Place Hotel" as well as backing vocals on brother Michael's 1984 solo hit "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)".
The La Toya Jackson album peaked at #116 on the US Billboard 200, #26 on the Billboard R&B album chart, and #178 on the UK Top 200, making it her highest placing album.
In 1982, Jackson released a follow-up album, My Special Love which generated two singles, "Stay the Night" and "I Don't Want You to Go".
1984-87: Heart Don't Lie and international success1984 saw the release of Jackson's critically acclaimed album Heart Don't Lie. Jackson scored her biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit with the titular track "Heart Don't Lie", which peaked at number 56. Other singles from this album were "Bet'cha Gonna Need My Lovin'", "Hot Potato", and a cover of Prince's "Private Joy." Jackson and Amir Bayyan co-wrote "Reggae Nights" for Heart Don't Lie but the track did not make the cut. Jimmy Cliff's recording of the song was a hit and was nominated for a Grammy. Cliff commissioned Jackson to write two more songs: "Brown Eyes" and "American Sweet."
In 1984 Jackson capitalized on her rising popularity by licensing her name to a fashion line; "David Laurenz for La Toya."  According to her three year contract with the suede and leather-maker Jackson agreed to only wear David Laurenz items during her public appearances. Apparel in the collection included Jackson's signature leather headbands. Jackson starred in adverts for Nikon cameras and the following year she become the spokesmodel for cosmetics firm Mahogany Image and launched her own eponymous fragrance, La Toya.
In 1985 Jackson participated on the single "We Are the World", an appeal for famine relief in Ethiopia. That same year Jackson featured in anti-drug music video "Stop the Madness".
1988-89: Departure from the family home and Playboy
In 1987, Jack Gordon was hired to co-manage La Toya by her father, Joseph. He later took over her management completely.
Under Gordon's management, Jackson's public image became increasingly sexier. Katherine Jackson recalled her shock seeing La Toya dance in a suggestive manner in 1988 for the first time in her autobiography My Family, The Jacksons, "she'd been so conservative that she'd once dropped a friend who had begun wearing low-cut tops and skirts with slits in them." Katherine believed that Gordon was distancing La Toya from her family so he could "become the dominating influence in her life." Around this time Jackson was disfellowshipped by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Defying her father, Jackson made a stormy exit from the family's Encino compound to take up residence in New York City.
In late 1988, Jackson released the album La Toya, which featured the singles, "You're Gonna Get Rocked!" and "(Ain't Nobody Loves You) Like I Do". The album also included a track titled "Just Say No", which was written for the Reagan administration's anti-drug campaign. The album included four tracks produced by Full Force, and three by Stock Aitken Waterman. The album is notable for being the first one Jackson released after changing her management.
In March 1989, Jackson posed topless for Playboy magazine. Jackson saw the pictorial as a declaration of independence from her conservative upbringing and "to show my parents they couldn't dictate to me any more--that I control my life."  The cover and layout was one of the most successful issues in Playboy's history, turning Jackson into an overnight sex symbol. At its time of release, it sold over 8 million copies, going on to become the best selling issue of the magazine ever. She posed again in Playboy in November 1991 to promote her autobiography and subsequently acted in a 1994 video for the magazine, becoming one of the first celebrities to have a Playboy video released. She later said that she initially refused to pose for the second spread and for the video, however, Gordon beat her into submission.
In 1989, Jackson began recording her sixth album Bad Girl. That year Jackson staged a live pay-per-view concert, A Sizzling Spectacular!, from Bally's theatre in Reno. Jackson's set list included songs from La Toya and Bad Girl. The show featured special guest star Edgar Winter.
On September 5, 1989, after her Sizzling Spectacular concert in Nevada, Gordon forcibly married Jackson, claiming it was for her own protection against kidnapping by her family. La Toya Jackson states that this was both unplanned and against her wishes. According to Jackson; "I told him, 'No way, Jack! I can't marry you. You know what marriage means to me. I've never been in love; I don't even date.... It's not right. I don't love you. I don't have feelings for you.'" Jackson tried to run out of the chapel three times but bodyguard Antonio Rossi grabbed her saying, "There's some things you have to do. Even if you don't want to." Jackson told Ebony magazine the marriage was "strictly in name only. It has never been consummated." Six months into the marriage, Jackson asked Gordon for an annulment when in Rome, Italy. In response, Gordon repeatedly bashed her head against the corner of the hotel room table saying that he would never let her go. Paparazzi subsequently photographed Jackson with black eyes, which Gordon claimed was caused by an intruder.
1989-96: Public notoriety, abuse, and exile from the Jackson family
From this point forward, Jackson lost all contact with her family and wrote an autobiography, La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family, which accused her father of physical abuse.
For roughly the next decade Gordon controlled Jackson with threats, lies, and routine violence. According to Jackson, "When he hit me, the first time I was in shock, I just recalled my ear ringing, just ringing so hard." Gordon confiscated Jackson's passport, transferred her bank accounts into his name, hired bodyguards to watch La Toya constantly and banned her from speaking to or seeing her family, monitoring her every phone call. La Toya's father Joseph stated in his book The Jacksons that he believed Gordon brainwashed La Toya and made her fearful of her own family. Katherine also believed that La Toya had been brainwashed while Gordon claimed that Katherine had tried to kill her daughter. Sister Janet concurred with her parents saying at the time, "I think this guy who is with her has brainwashed her and made her like this... He keeps her away from the family, and now he's brainwashed her so much she keeps herself away from us."
In 1990 Jackson participated in the Sanremo Music Festival, entering "You and Me" an English-language version of "Verso l'ignoto" by siblings Marcella and Gianni Bella. While "You and Me" did not win Best Song, it entered Italy's hit parade, peaking at number twenty-eight. That year Jackson signed on with German-based BCM Records and released the single "Why Don't You Want My Love?" Jackson recorded other material with BCM, but the label went bankrupt and album plans were scrapped. Jackson signed with Dino Records quickly thereafter. 1991 saw the release of No Relations, an album with strong house and funk influences. This album featured Jackson's top twenty-five Netherlands hit "Sexbox".
In 1992 Jackson signed a contract with the Moulin Rouge in Paris to star in her own revue, Formidable. Jackson was to perform two shows a night, six nights a week. Jackson was highest paid performer in the cabaret's history earning a reported $5 million. Though Formidable was successful, selling out on most nights, Jackson departed half-way into her year-long contract owing the nightclub $550,000 in damages.
In October 1992 while taping an Exotic Club Tour in Minneapolis Jackson approached sister Janet Jackson, also in town recording her fifth studio album with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, to ask for help in escaping Gordon. Janet struck La Toya, accusing her elder sister of recording their conversation.
In 1993, in their New York home, Gordon beat Jackson repeatedly with a heavy brass dining room chair, leaving Jackson with black eyes, swollen lip and chin "the size of a clenched fist," cuts requiring 12 mouth stitches and contusions on her face, arms, legs and back. Jackson lost consciousness during the beating, leading Gordon to believe she was dead. She recalled, "He called his friends and said, 'She's dead. I killed her,' because I was lying in a puddle of blood and I was out." Gordon was arrested but then released, claiming he beat Jackson in self defense.
In December 1993 Gordon hastily arranged a press conference in Tel Aviv, where he had Jackson read a statement claiming to believe the sensational sex abuse allegation against her younger brother Michael might be true. This was an abrupt reversal of her previous defense of Michael against the charges. Gordon claimed La Toya had proof which she was prepared to disclose for a fee of $500,000. A bidding war between US and UK tabloids began, but fell through when they realized that her revelations were not what she had claimed them to be. According to La Toya, Gordon threatened to have siblings Michael and Janet killed if she didn't follow his orders.
Under Gordon's management, Jackson's career declined with his booking of disreputable jobs such as spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network. Because of Gordon's steady stream of publicity stunts and her media portrayal as the Jackson family "black sheep" La Toya had become a hate figure of sorts. By the mid-1990s Jackson's finances were in disarray and she was forced to file for bankruptcy in order to stave off claims of $650,000 in damages to the Moulin Rouge for ending her contract early.
In 1993 Jackson held a concert at Poland's Sopot International Song Festival and released a step aerobics exercise video, Step-Up Workout. In 1994, Jackson again worked for Playboy Entertainment, becoming one the very first celebrities to have a Celebrity Centerfold video. Playboy Celebrity Centerfold: La Toya Jackson was released in the first quarter of 1994 and sold roughly 50,000 copies. Jackson later released two albums, one of country music, From Nashville to You, and another of Motown hits, Stop in the Name of Love, in the mid-1990s.
1996-2002: Escape and seclusionIn 1996, Gordon attempted to force Jackson to dance at a Cleveland, Ohio, strip club. She refused to do so and in return, was booed and heckled by the predominantly male crowd. When Jackson became aware that Gordon was planning to feature her in a pornographic film she decided she'd had enough. Jackson phoned brother Randy who flew to New York to help her escape while Gordon was out. Only days later, La Toya filed for divorce from Las Vegas and sued Gordon in civil court for years of abuse under the Violence Against Women Act.
La Toya Jackson ended her estrangement with the entire Jackson family and returned home to Hayvenhurst. Jackson forgave her parents for her stifled upbringing reasoning, "I've come to realize that as we get older, we grow and learn a lot more. And I think that my father and my mother, they raised children the best way they know how." According to La Toya, Michael knew that she was forced to attack him in the press against her will and he did not blame her. "He never held any of that against me, I remember when I'd got away from this total hell I'd been through where I'd been beaten, abused, controlled and forced to say those terrible things about Michael, which I didn't for a moment believe, he held out his arms and just hugged me. I was crying saying: 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.' He just held me tight and said: 'I am your brother, I always knew it wasn't you saying those words."  Jackson's last single of the 1990s was "Don't Break My Heart."
For six years afterward Jackson made few public appearances. After separating from Gordon, Jackson cloistered herself in her home and lived alone for the first time. Weary after her years of public scorn, she didn't know what to do with her life and was afraid to perform again. Jackson struggled to rebuild her confidence but was plagued with self doubt, explaining, "I got to the point, [...] where -- well, you know in the media they say things like, 'Oh, she can't sing. She has no talent. She can't dance.' I started believing that, and I was thinking, 'Oh my God'. And I started thinking, 'Oh gee, how could this happen to me?' How could I start believing this?" In the wake of the September 11 attacks Jackson was moved to compose "Free the World". She performed the song for friends to a positive reception. This spurred on Jackson to write more songs, ending up with a full album, Startin' Over.
2003-06: Re-emergence and return to musicJackson publicly re-emerged on Larry King Live on March 9, 2003. Her appearance caused CNN's phone lines to stay busy for hours and was King's highest-rated show in three years. Jackson announced her first musical project in six years, Startin' Over. Startin' Over's lead single was 2004's "Just Wanna Dance", released independently under her pseudonymous nickname "Toy" in order to avoid any prejudices DJs might hold against La Toya Jackson's name. The plan worked, with "Just Wanna Dance" reaching #13 on the US Billboard Hot Dance chart. "Free the World" was released later that year to similar success. Jackson's label, Ja-Tail Records secured a deal with Universal Music Group to distribute the album, which was delayed several times due to extenuating circumstances. The 2003 promotional copy of Startin' Over leaked online in 2006, however Jackson's management revealed that the entire album was being re-recorded with an all-new track list and updated sound. That year Jackson became the spokeswoman for Australian malt beverage Star Ice's US launch.
After Jack Gordon's death in 2005, Jackson was free to speak more openly about the control he exerted over her life. She sent a security expert to eyewitness that Gordon had not faked his death a second time. In 2005 she appeared on ABC News to recant her previous allegations and defend brother Michael against new charges of child abuse. VH1 described Jackson as a role model having weathered various successes and setbacks. The perception of Jackson as an underdog and her support for LGBT rights has led her to be declared a gay icon.
2007-09: Armed and Famous and Celebrity Big Brother
In January 2009, Jackson was paid £103,000 to appear as a contestant on the British television program Celebrity Big Brother. She was the second member of the Jackson family to be on the show, the first being her brother Jermaine in 2007. Jackson's goal in participating in show was to get over her shyness and "mix with people who I'd never normally meet."  She was evicted 4th from the house and was the first evictee of the series to be cheered on her exit.
2009-11: Death of brother Michael and Home
The final version of Startin' Over was completed in late 2008, just before Jackson joined the cast of Celebrity Big Brother. A new lead single, "Love, Honor, and Obey," planned for a summer 2009 release, was put on hold because of the death of Jackson's younger brother Michael. Instead, "Home" was released on the 28th of July 2009 in Michael's memory with all proceeds going to AIDS Project Los Angeles, one of his favorite charities.
La Toya Jackson was one of the first siblings present at Reagan-UCLA Medical Center on June 25, 2009, after brother Michael Jackson was pronounced dead after suffering cardiac arrest. She was named as the informant on her brother's death certificate. Jackson requested a second autopsy to be carried out after noting suspicious medical paraphernalia in Michael's rented house, evasive behavior by his doctors, and discovering that $2 million in cash and jewels had gone missing. On July 13 an interview was published in News of the World and the Daily Mail where Jackson went public with her conclusion that Michael was murdered. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled Jackson's death a homicide weeks later.
In 2010 Jackson launched Dream Cream, a hand cream for German cosmetics firm Alessandro International, and named Teddy Riley head of Ja-Tail Record's music division.
Jackson took part in NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, which aired in March 2011. Her charity for Celebrity Apprentice was AIDS Project L.A.. La Toya was "fired" from Celebrity Apprentice in episode 8 during season 11, which aired on April 24, 2011 on NBC. In an Apprentice first, Jackson was re=hired the following episode, as she felt she couldn't defend her case. She also served as a guest judge on season three of RuPaul's Drag Race. Jackson's second memoir, tentatively titled Starting Over, is set to be released in the United States in 2011 through Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
- La Toya Jackson (1980)
- My Special Love (1981)
- Heart Don't Lie (1984)
- Imagination (1986)
- La Toya (1988)
- Bad Girl (1991)
- No Relations (1991)
- Formidable (1992)
- From Nashville to You (1994)
- Stop in the Name of Love (1995)
- Startin' Over (2011)
- Jackson co-wrote "Reggae Nights" for reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Recording. She later recorded the song for her album No Relations.
- She won one of five Outstanding Song Awards at the 1985 World Popular Song Festival in Japan, for her single "Baby Sister" 
- Jackson received a US Congressional Tribute for her participation in a "Beat It" rally and Stay In School Campaign
- She was one of the recipients of a Grammy Award for Record of the Year as a vocalist for "We Are the World".
- Jackson's foot prints were immortalized on Rotterdam's Star Boulevard Walk of Fame on 19 December 1991, originally located in Scheveningen.
- She has a namesake dessert at Millions of Milkshakes in West Hollywood. The "La Toya Jackson Shake" consists of strawberries, raspberries, caramel, topped with whipped cream and a Cadbury flake.