Michael and Tatum began a friendship when she was 12 and he was 17. In the documentary Living With Michael Jackson (2003), Michael alleged that Tatum tried to seduce him. According to him, the incident happened at her home, where she attempted to unbutton his shirt and talked explicitly about sex. This scared him and he covered his face, so she walked away. Tatum refuted this saying “at 12 years old, there was no way she was capable of being as mature or as sophisticated as he claimed.”
In her autobiography A Paper Life in 2004, she claimed it was Michael who attempted to make out with her. The actress wrote, “I was just 12 and not at all ready for a real-life encounter[…] Michael, who was sweating profusely, seemed as intimidated as I was. He jumped up nervously and said, ‘Uh … gotta go.’” This contradicts Tatum’s own account of the relationship in 1995 in Vibe, where she remembered him as “being so shy” and “one of the nicest, most innocent people I’ve ever met”, and, “Once he came into my bedroom, and he wouldn’t even sit on my bed.” She described the relationship as “a really wonderful friendship” where they would dance and “talk on the phone all the time.”
She said the relationship ended when she was 12, after he asked her to go to the premiere of The Wiz with him, but her agent disapproved. She claimed they never spoke after that, but they were shown to be together a number of times after the premiere. Michael also spoke about Tatum in 2001, when he described holding hands with her: “I was, like, in heaven. It was the most magical thing. It was better than kissing her, it was better than anything.”
Have Michael Jackson and Tatum O’ Neal ever been in love together? These intimate photographs that captured 20-year-old Michael Jackson and 15-year-old Tatum O’Neal at a party to celebrate the Gold certification of The Jacksons album Destiny, July 1979.