Kathy Griffin was an extra on the Michael Jackson Pepsi video

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Comedian Kathy Griffin was in the audience when Michael Jackson’s head caught on fire during his ill-fated Pepsi commercial shoot in 1984. Griffin was an extra, and said that she didn’t notice anything was wrong at first until a group of guys jumped on Jackson, spraying him with a fire extinguisher.

Kathy Griffin reveals she was an extra on Michael Jackson’s ill-fated 1984 Pepsi commercial.

“I was happy to be an extra. I was just part of the crowd scene,” the comic explains to Extra. “I will just never forget seeing Michael Jackson from a distance and just thinking, ‘Oh my God, that’s Michael Jackson.’ You kind of can’t believe it.”

Griffin says she remembers the scene — shot in L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium in front of 3,000 fans — “vividly.

“Jon [Lovitz] was there. They were taping it. We really didn’t notice [his hair on fire at first],” she says. “When it actually happened…he was literally spinning, and then there was smoke and a bunch of people kind of jumped on him.

“They didn’t tell any extras what was going on. Then rumors kind of rippled through the audience,” Griffin goes on. “By the time I got home that night, it was the biggest news story on the news. It’s fascinating somebody had that tape.

“And we never knew how serious the injury was,” she says. “I could only imagine that [it] was very painful.”

[From Us Weekly]

I would imagine that, from straight on in the audience, even if someone was closely watching Jackson, it wouldn’t be clear exactly what happened to him. Really, what is most significant about that video is the angle from which it was shot. It must have been an interesting experience to be there, and I’m surprised Griffin hasn’t mentioned it before.

In Pepsi’s response to the video’s release, they asked, “Why share such frightening images?” Well, I think a good reason is what Kathy said about never really knowing how serious the injury was. And she was there. But when you see the video, especially the upsetting part that shows the wound on the top of Jackson’s head, you realize what a big deal it was. Combined with what his doctor has shared about all the painful procedures he went through in an attempt to correct the damage from that one incident, it does make some people see some of Jackson’s issues in a different light.

Here is the video – with the obvious warning that it is graphic and upsetting to some.

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9 Responses to “Kathy Griffin was an extra on the Michael Jackson Pepsi video”

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  1. David says:

    Kathy is hilarious!

  2. Iggles says:


    That video is horrible! Poor MJ, RIP. 🙁

  3. El Predicto says:

    If anyone would know about fiery hair it would be Kathy.

  4. BlueSkies says:

    JB, have you seen the Tito Jackson supposed interview The NYDN is running? Taken from a British tabloid. Is it true or another fake interview?

  5. Kikker says:

    Can you see her in the video? I don’t want to watch it again.

  6. Kerri says:

    Does anyone really care that Kathy Griffin was in this video? I mean, she wasn’t proclaiming this 5 years ago when it didn’t matter, right?

  7. Trillion says:

    Pardon me for explaining the obvious, but this event didn’t carry nearly the significance 5 years ago. Kathy’s comedy is almost exclusively based on celebrity encounters, that’s what she does.

  8. Aspen says:

    When this happened, the media portrayed it as “no big thing.” They didn’t mention the burns that first day. They just said his hair caught on fire. They didn’t say he was hurt at all…much less that he was badly injured. I REMEMBER it.

    Back then, Michael Jackson wore a LOT of product in his hair, and it was natural that the people…not knowing his injuries were serious…would joke about all the oil in his hair/the fire/ and the whole thing being a big drama to point and giggle at.

    We saw the video of his hair being on fire over and over and over and over back then because they would play it on the news and say Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire from the special effects. At no time did they explain in that first couple of days that he was gravely injured. At no point in those first couple of days did they show the end of the tape where you see the extent of the damage done to MJ’s scalp.

    A few days later, when they FINALLY began talking about whether or not MJ would SURVIVE…people stopped joking about it for the most part until a few years later when he was well, performing again, and everyone assumed he was fully recovered.

    No one EVER came out honestly and let the public know how madly MJ was hurt, and we didn’t know he’d been injured at all until two days later. The way the press played it was very wrong. The consequence is that everyone…up to seeing this footage…thought the Pepsi fire was no big deal. No one knew he was scarred. No one knew he was in pain. Back when it happened, the media allowed it to be a joke instead of telling the truth.

    I was a kid…I was 10 years old to be precise…but I still remember watching. I was interested in what happened to him, and the news seemed to say he was fine and it was all no big deal…funny, funny.

    I’m GLAD this horrible tape is out now. It shows what really happened and explains things in a different light. I’m sorry so many are offended by it…but it is the truth. That really happened to him. I was paying attention back when it happened, and I had NO IDEA it was that bad until I saw the video here early in the week.

    So. That’s why people want to see something so awful.

  9. tt says:

    i cant watch this video again, i almost cried, its gruesome. i kinda agree with pepsi about releasing this video….why? so people (the media)could watch it over and over again like some kind of sick joke? the only good thing about this is that now the world will realize just how serious his burns actually were and how much pain he was in…