MICHAEL JACKSON HAS DIED!

King of Pop Michael Jackson died Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital where he was rushed around 1 p.m. PT by paramedics.

Jackson, 50, suffered cardiac arrest. The circumstances of Jackson’s death were not immediately clear.

Capt. Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times earlier Thursday that paramedics responded to a call at Jackson’s home around 12:26 p.m. Ruda said Jackson was not breathing when they arrived.

Law enforcement sources and city officials told the LA Times that Jackson was declared dead by doctors Thursday afternoon after arriving in a deep coma at the hospital.

Ed Winter, the assistant chief coroner for Los Angeles County, confirmed his office had been notified of the death and would handle the investigation. LAPD officials revealed that their homicide department would be investigation Jackson’s death although they noted that there was no reason to suspect anything suspcious happened to the pop legend.

Jackson had announced months ago that he would be doing a comeback tour, but his representatives announced in May that the the star would postpone several of his London shows scheduled for this summer.

Jackson, who has sold more than 750 million albums and won 13 Grammys, hasn’t undertaken a a major tour since 1997 or released an album of new material since 2001.

The 50-year-old singer has been seen in public infrequently since he was acquitted of child molestation in California in 2005. He has struggled to pay his debts, and was forced last year to give up the deed to Neverland, his 2,500-acre ranch and miniature amusement park in California.

On May 20, Jackson’s representatives announced several postponments to his London comeback shows scheduled for this summer. The opening night at the 02 Arena had been set for July 8 but was be moved back to July 13, promoters said. In addition, other shows scheduled for July were moved to 2010.

The delays fueled speculation that Jackson was suffering from health ailments.

Also in May, his publicist and general manager filed a $44 million lawsuit against the pop star claiming he has not paid her for deals she’s made. Raymone Bain of Washington had been Jackson’s spokeswoman for more than five years, speaking on his behalf in all sorts of matters including his child molestation trial. Three years ago, Jackson expanded her role by appointing her the head of the Michael Jackson Co. Inc. and his personal general manager.

Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

His 1982 album “Thriller” — which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” — remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 26 million copies.

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves, his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove and tight, military-style jacket were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

As years went by, he became an increasingly freakish figure. His skin became lighter and his nose narrower. He surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, often wore a germ mask while traveling and kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions.

In November 2008, Jackson was reportedly too sick to travel to London to testify in a suit claiming he owes an Arab sheikh $7 million. Jackon sought to give his testimony by video link from the United States.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him. The case took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

Jackson has often been seen wearing a surgical mask in public. In one infamous 2002 court appearance in California, he appeared to have a bandage hanging from his hollowed-out nose.

Despite much speculation about his radically changed appearance over the years, he has denied having had any alterations to his face other than two operations on his nose to help him breathe better to hit higher notes.

Jackson, a twice-divorced father of three, said during his 50th birthday celebration last year that he aims to provide a a normal life for his children.

“I am letting them enjoy their childhood as much as possible. … I let them go to the arcade and go to the movies and do things. I think that comes naturally. I want them to get to do things I didn’t get to do,” he said.

“I get pretty emotional when I see them having a wonderful time,” he said.

As for his career, Jackson said he’s “looking forward to doing a lot of great things. … I think the best is yet to come in my true humble opinion.”

He said recording the blockbuster albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall” were the happiest times of his life.

“That meant very much to me and seemed to be received so beautifully by the public and the world. You know, I enjoyed it very much,” he said.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital as word of his death spread Thursday. The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson’s rented home, was roped off with police tape.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Jackson has just died,” a woman boarding a Manhattan bus called out, shortly after the news was announced. Immediately many riders reached for their cell phones.

In New York’s Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

“No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow,” Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend sent to his telephone. “It’s like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died.”

~A VERY SAD EAGLES770~=(

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