Gloved one moonwalks through Hasbro: Michael Jackson makes a quick visit to tour two toy plants

The Providence Journal
April, 14, 1993

That lithe fellow gliding through the halls of Hasbro yesterday in black hat, white shirt and silver sunglasses was none other than the sequined one himself, Michael Jackson.

No, Hasbro isn't on the verge of putting out a G.I. Joe that moonwalks.

Jackson just wanted to see how toys are made, according to a Hasbro spokesman.

And what better place than Pawtucket, home of the world's biggest toymaker?

Robert Fisher, Hasbro's vice president of research and development, who got an autograph. "He's such a celebrity. It was amazing to see the electricity when he came in a room."

Fisher was informed yesterday morning that company chairman Alan G. Hassenfeld would be bringing "somebody important" by in the afternoon. He didn't know who. He was just told to make sure the designers and sculptors in his department had works-in-progress in plain view.

Jackson arrived at Hasbro's red brick headquarters off Newport Avenue in Pawtucket at around 3:30 p.m. in an American-made sedan driven by a friend. They drove in from Boston. There was no entourage.

Jackson was greeted by Wayne Charness, vice president for corporate communications. Only Charness and Hassenfeld knew about the visit, which had been arranged for weeks.

First stop, after Hassenfeld's office, was the model shop, where sketches of toys are turned into white-foam prototypes.

Then came Funlab, Hasbro's toytesting area, where kids at play are videotaped from behind a mirrored wall. Jackson poured apple juice for the kids and even got on the floor to play with toys.

The singer apparently was a bigger sensation than basketball star Magic Johnson, who stopped by in February.

"It was a blitz," Fisher said. "Some people were running up saying, 'You're the best! We love you!' One woman looked like she'd died and gone to heaven."

Charness figured Jackson gave 100 autographs. "Love to Paula, Michael Jackson," he wrote on a Hasbro annual report for Paula Sacchi, Charness's secretary.

Jackson didn't sing, dance or wear a white glove. He did sport his customary black shoes and white socks, along with a black baseball jacket.

Fisher said Jackson looked better in person than on TV because he wasn't "all made up."

Hasbro has never done a Michael Jackson doll and isn't planning to Charness insisted. "He really just wanted to see how the toys are made," he said.

Jackson apparently was surprised by the breadth of Hasbro's product line, which includes Monopoly, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Batman and Play-Doh.

"He must have seen 500 toys in half-hour," Fisher said. "When I told him Play-Doh, he said, 'Wow you guys make everything.'

"There's an innocence about him He's like a kid himself."

Last stop was Hasbro's Delta Drive plant, a five-minute drive away from the headquarters. There Jackson saw Nerf and G.I. Joe toys being assembled.

The two-hour tour was done.

"Quick as he came, he was gone," Charness said.