A Los Angeles fire official is blaming the director of a Pepsi commercial for the 1984 incident where Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire.
Don Donester, a L.A. City Fire Department captain, was on set at the shoot acting as one of the fire safety inspectors and he told TMZ.com how the accident went down.
“[Michael] stayed in a position where he wasn’t normally in the previous takes, and what happened [is that] the shower of sparks went directly on his head,” Don said. “He was directly under the sparks where before he was maybe two to three steps below that area when they were ignited.”
Reportedly, director Bob Giraldi was going for a dramatic moment in the TV spot, and he wanted Michael to appear as if he was emerging from the sparks and smoke. Don recalled hearing Bob tell Michael, "Stand there longer. You’ll look more majestic.”
Originally, Michael was supposed to have been walking past the pyrotechnics without stalling. But Don claims Bob didn’t inform safety staff of the new direction, which went directly against rules imposed by the inspectors.
“[Bob] put [Michael] in harm’s way without notifying us of the safety of it,” Don charged.
Don is one of the people who helped to put out the flames on Michael’s head, and he said that Michael was stunned during the whole ordeal. However when he was able to speak, he expressed more concern that his face might have been disfigured.
There is speculation that this accident may have been what led to Michael’s alleged abuse of prescription drugs.
You can listen to Don’s full interview here.
– Sonya Eskridge