Stephanie Mills, May, 1976
Stephanie explains that her signing with Motown came about through Hazel Gordy, Berry’s daughter and the wife of Jermaine Jackson. “Hazel and Jermaine had come to see the show and wanted Suzanne de Passe from Motown to meet me. We all met up at a party for the Jackson Five here in New York and it’s always been one of my dreams to be with Motown – Diana Ross is truly my idol! At around about the same time, Burt Bacharach had seen the show and expressed an interest in working with me, so when I went out to Los Angeles to meet with Berry Gordy, and he asked who I’d like as producers. I went for Bacharach and Hal David.”
For a photo session, Michael wears a blue sweater, blue pants, a white shirt, and, for some reason, an E.L.O. (Electric Light Orchestra) pin. His bodyguard and a friend/publicist are with him, and when it comes time for photos, the publicist calls him into another room to tell him to take off his undershirt; when he comes back, Michael says that he could have been told that in front of us. He’d arrived late the night before and is staying an extra day so he can go see The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills (there were rumored publicity attempts to drum up a fake romance with her to calm down Michael’s black female fans who were upset he was never seen with a black girl). “I’ve seen [The Wiz] three times already,” Michael says. There is a discussion about birds—Michael had spent the morning at the Bronx Zoo visiting the birdhouse; he says he likes the exotic birds and used to have some, but they made a lot of noise, especially during the mating season, and usually at night, and the neighbors complained, so he had to give them away. It was his first trip to the Bronx Zoo. He asks if Coney Island is still any good, or if they have taken all the good stuff out. He talks about Disneyland—which he’d been to lots of times—and Disney World: “Disney World is better,” he says. “It’s more of a world, like they say. It’s a resort; they have everything—golf, tennis, hotels—it’s all fantasy time.”
MJ: Do you know Stevie Wonder?
AW: I met him once when he was playing with Mick Jagger at Madison Square Garden? He’s really great. I gave him a camera for a present and he was taking pictures with it but I don’t know if he ever, ahh . . .
STEPHANIE MILLS: C’mon, Michael, let’s dance.
MJ: Let me watch.
SM: Oh, c’mon, Michael, please . . .
MJ: It’s just I’m not used to dancin’ if . . .
SB: If he’s not paid for it.
SM: Michael, Michael . . .
MJ: I’m going to watch. I don’t like to be put on the spot.
CATHERINE GUINNESS: If a young lady asks you to dance, you can’t refuse.
SM: Michael, please. Michael, Michael, Michael . . . [MJ agrees to get up and dance.]
Michael Jackson: “Unauthorized”
After the Jacksons shattered box-office records at the Nassau Coliseum, Michael went out on one of his rare dates with the opposite sex. After seeing The Wiz for the fourth time, he escorted the musical’s tiny, Merman-voiced teenage star, Stephanie Mills, to the chic Park Avenue nightclub Regine’s for dinner. Throughout the meal she flirted with him, brushing his hand with hers, bumping his knees under the table, eve, for one fleeting moment, laying her head on his shoulder. With each touch Michael became rigid. And as his discomfort became more and more obvious, their unlikely chaperon for the evening, Andy Warhol, did what he always did best in such prickly social situations. Nothing.
Ellensburg Daily Record, 23rd Jan, 1978
Ellensburg Daily Record, 3rd Nov, 1978
Reading Eagle, Dec 28 1979
One of Mills’ dissappointments, although she’d rather not talk about it, is the fact that Diana Ross got the movie role in “Wiz,” a role that she wanted very, very badly.
“I visited the Wiz set,” Mills is saying, trying to sound cheerful and not succeeding, “and Diana asked me if I was bitter that she was there and I was just passing through,” she recollects. Ross, by innuendo, made her feel even worse. “She told me that if she didn’t get Wiz that Melba Moore or Lola Falana were next in line.”
JET 24 Jan 1980
Toledo Blade, 15 Aug 1980
EBONY Feb 1982
Rock & Soul, 23 March 1983
Though many questions about Michael’s personal relationships have been raised, very dew have actually been answered. When Rock & Soul asked Stephanie Mills about the rumours that she and Jackson were sweet on each other, she put them to rest immediately. “Just friends,” she said emphatically.
Michael Jackson Discharged, Boston Globe, January 29, 1984
Superstar Michael Jackson, hospitalized with burns from fireworks that ignited his hair during filming of a commercial, was quietly discharged from a hospital yesterday against his doctor’s recommendation. Dr. Steve Hoefflin said he believed it was best for Jackson to stay at Brotman Memorial Hospital burns institute, but reluctantly agreed to his release at 3:30 p.m.
(EST). Hours earlier, he had told reporters Jackson would be hospitalized “for several days.” He said Jackson may require reconstructive surgery. Nurse Pat Lavalas, the burn unit supervisor, said Jackson was in good spirits yesterday morning and he received many telephone calls, including get-well wishes from singers Teddy Pendergrass and Stephanie Mills. “He sang a Stephanie Mills song in the bathroom.He stayed in bed and opened telegrams, and he got a big kick out of one from a fan that said, I know you’re hot, but this is ridiculous,”‘ the nurse said.
Stephanie Mills, March 1984
She hopes, however, to get a chance to work with one of the other star of the Wiz movie-Michael Jackson.
One of these days I’m going to pin him up against the wall,”Mills said of Jackson. ”I think we’d sound great together.”
Billboard Special Honoring Michael, 21 Jul 1984
When that meeting took place at CBS headquarters in New York, I was only nineteen years old. I was carrying a heavy burden for nineteen. My family was relying on me more and more as far as business and creative decisions were concerned, and I was so worried about trying to do the right thing for them; but I also had an opportunity to do something I’d wanted to do all my life – act in a film. Ironically the old Motown connection was paying a late dividend.
Motown had bought the rights to film the Broadway show known as The Wiz even as we were leaving the company. The Wiz was an updated, black-orientated version of the great movie The Wizard of Oz, which I had always loved. I remember that when I was a kid The Wizard of Oz was shown on television once a year and always on a Sunday night. Kids today can’t imagine what a big event that was for all of us because they’ve grown up with videocassettes and the expanded viewing that cable provides.
I had seen the Broadway show too, which was certainly no letdown. I swear I saw it six or seven times. I later became very friendly with the star of the show, Stephanie Mills, the Broadway Dorothy. I told her then, and I’ve always believed since, that it was a tragedy that her performance in the play could not have been preserved on film. I cried time after time. As much as I like the Broadway stage, I don’t think I’d want to play on it myself. When you give a performance, whether on record or on film, you want to be able to judge what you’ve done, to measure yourself and try to improve. You can’t do that in an untaped or unrecorded performance. It makes me sad to think of all the great actors who have played roles we would give anything to see, but they’re lost to us because they couldn’t be, or simply weren’t, recorded.
If I had been tempted to go onstage, it would probably have been to work with Stephanie, although her performances were so moving that I might have cried right there in front of the audience.
Not only did Mills speak on how she managed and coped with the hectic life of a performer, she also managed to briefly clarify the relationship between her and the king of pop himself, Michael Jackson.
“Michael was definitely my boyfriend back in the day,” said Mills. “But I don’t know if I was his girlfriend,” she said over loud bursts of laughter from the audience.
Mills then began to talk briefly about the friendship that grew between her and the late Jackson, and also went on to adamantly proclaim how genuine of a person he was.
“Michael and I were friends for a very long time. I used to stay with him – actually – we used to sleep in the same bed, when he was shooting the Wiz movie. You couldn’t have told me I wouldn’t be Mrs Michael Jackson.
Stephanie Mills, Monique Show, January 2010
Monique: So… you’re on Broaday.
Stephanie: I’m on Broadway.
Monique: You’re doing The Wiz.
Stephanie: I’m doing The Wiz.
Monique: And in walks Mr Michael Jackson.
Monique: Tell us about it, baby.
Stephanie: I gotta scream now. (laughing)
Monique: How was that?
Stephanie: Oh girl, at that time I was what, 15, 16 years old and every girl in America wanted to be Mrs Michael Jackson and I just knew that I was gonna be Mrs Michael Jackson. Now, I’ll say this, he was truly my boyfriend and I don’t know if I was really his girlfriend, but he was my boyfriend, okay? And we spent a lot of – I got the chance to spend a lot of time with him. Especially when he came back, well, he would come to the show almost every day and sit back and watch and I got a chance to go to the house. So we became really, really good friends. And I was really in love and I just knew I was going to be Mrs Michael Jackson.
Monique: That brother is the greatest. He is the greatest.
Stephanie: The greatest. (cheers, Steph claps)
Monique: The greatest to walk the face of the Earth.
Stephanie: You know there’s some people that, like I won’t let anyone say anything bad about you ’cause you’re my girl and I won’t let anyone say anything bad things about people that I love.
Monique: Now, you believed that you was Michael’s girlfriend.
Stephanie: I was! I was washing his clothes. I stayed with him at Sutton place. I made him rice one day and he said the rice was really runny – but I can’t cook, I don’t profess to cook. But he ate it.
Monique: Well, Miss Stephanie.
Stephanie: What? I was trying to cook for him!
Monique: (laughing) So you was washing his clothes?
Stephanie: I was washing his clothes.
Monique: And then you cooked?
Stephanie: And then I cooked.
Monique: Now that sounds like an over night visit. (laughs, Stephanie winks at the audience) Did you go to Never Never Land?
Stephanie: Yes! (cheers, Monique laughs) You know, I’ll say this, I’ll say this… I did spend a lot of time with him. I did spend the night. I did. I spent the night. I spent the night.
Monique: Mind your damn business! She ain’t going furthur than that, she spent the night.
Stephanie: But you know Michael was so sweet and so innocent. I don’t think the world was ready for the kind of person he was.
Monique: He was love.
Stephanie: He was love.
HERE I AM Blog Talk Radio, 22 March, 2010
About not getting the part of Dorothy in The Wiz:
“I am a big fan of Diana Ross so it really didn’t bother me at all ’cause, honey Michael was coming to my dressing room every day and I wasn’t thinking about The Wiz. I went to the set with him when they were filming so I didn’t think of it like it was devastating.”
WUNC Radio, April 2 2010
Host: Well apparently one of the people who saw that commercial was Michael Jackson who showed up every night and you developed quite a friendship Tell us about that.
Stephanie: Yes, yes, yes you know back then every little black girl wanted in America wanted to marry one of the Jackson Five. I got the chance to meet him because he would come to the show all the time. We developed quite a friendship. A friendship that lasted many years.
Host: I understand that you may have thought more of that relationship than he might have but you’ve kept that in your…
Stephanie: (laughing)I definitely thought that he was my boyfriend. At that time he was definitely my boyfriend. At 16 and 17 when you have a crush on a guy he’s your boyfriend.
Host: But it was more than that. You did sort of develop a relationship with him after that and get to know him personally after that.
Stephanie: Yes absolutely. I absolutely did. Yes we did.
Host: How do you access his career and his contribution?
Stephanie: Oh my god. He’s the biggest entertainer ever. He sold more records than anyone. His accomplishment is just unbelievable. But Michael was very disciplined and he loved to perform and dance and his fans. He loved the fans. That’s what he lived for and it showed in his life.
Mills and Jackson shared a bond earlier in their careers because they could relate to each other as child stars; the duo in fact dated for awhile in the mid-1970s. She admits that she was “madly in love” with Jackson and signed with Motown records at the time, in part, because she felt like she was “getting closer and closer to being Mrs. Jackson, because every little black girl in America wanted to marry one of the Jackson Five.”
News Observer April 9th 2010
“Well, Michael and I were really great, great friends,” she says. “We dated in the early ’80s and the ’70s, and we were good friends.” Mills insists she’s not only paying her last respects to the King of Pop on the song, but she’s also paying tribute to deceased friends and collaborators Teddy Pendergrass and Robert Brookins. “I really kind of relate it, or you can relate it back to when I recorded ‘Home.’ And when, you know, a lot of my friends had passed on with ‘Home,’ and I wanted people to remember their spirits and how wonderful the music was. It’s the same thing.”
Releases a cover of Yesterday, dedicated to Michael April 2010
Philly Tribune, Friday, 21 May 2010
As for her own music, Mills is excited about the summer release of her new album titled “Breathless,” recorded on her own label, CJ Entertainment. She plans to tour in support of the project, which is produced by Josiah Martin.
“‘Breathless’ is, I think, some of my best work — really writing and me really expressing myself,” said Mills. “Some of it’s personal experiences that I had, and it’s just an album full of relationships and love and different scenarios of how I like men and all that, but if they want to find out more about me, they can go to my Web site, http://www.stephaniemillsmusic.com.”
The diminutive diva explained that as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, “Breathless” will include her interpretation of the Beatles classic, “Yesterday.”
“We had such a wonderful friendship in the late ’70s, early ’80s, and I just wanted to sing something from the Beatles catalog because I love the Beatles, and I know that he loved the Beatles’ catalog, and ‘Yesterday’ was one of my favorite songs,” Mills explained.
Actually, she admits to having a bit of a romance with the legendary entertainer, and recalled, “I was in love with Michael! I was really in love, and I thought I was going to be Mrs. Michael Jackson, but he was so slow! I was ready to become a bride! Oh my God! We were maybe 18-years-old. I got to know him as a person, as a friend and he was really all about our love — very affectionate, very loving. He was really all about love.”