Dr. Arnold Klein, a longtime friend of Michael Jackson who was the musician’s dermatologist for more than 25 years, died Thursday. He was 70.
Klein died of natural causes in Palm Springs, California, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department of Coroner.
Klein, whose clients also included Merv Griffin and Elizabeth Taylor, had an outsized role in Jackson’s life. It was he who announced in 1993 that the singing star had vitiligo — a disease that discolors the skin — and he was outspoken in the wake of Jackson’s death in June 2009, making the rounds of talk shows and addressing the singer’s health.
Klein saw Jackson a few days before he died and said he was in a good mood, “dancing in the office,” he told Larry King on CNN.
But, he later told the TV show “In Session,” he also knew that the singer had a problem with propofol, the anesthetic blamed for Jackson’s death.
“I knew this problem existed,” Klein said in an interview. “I did my best to prevent it. Whenever I could, I prevented it, but I’m only one man, and I have to support my own life and take care of myself.”
Klein was often in the public eye. Born in the Detroit area, he moved to Southern California in his 20s and opened a practice in Beverly Hills. According to a profile in Vanity Fair, he soon became known as the “King of Lips” for his expertise with collagen fillers.
He was accused of contributing to Jackson’s medication problems but was cleared by federal agents. Jackson’s former physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, served two years of a four-year sentence for causing Jackson’s death.