Wylie Hughes Draper Jr. was born May 5 1969 in West Virginia. He seemed destined for stardom from the very start, at the age of ten Wylie’s brother Desmond would throw parties at a local skating rink where Wylie would dance like Michael Jackson often becoming the main attraction at the party! Even as a child many people noted the strong resemblance between Wylie and Michael Jackson, but as Wylie grew his focus from the arts shifted and as a teen he became a football player at Northside high school, but he changed his focus again back to the arts his Sophomore year, his drama teacher recalls him as a “consummate student” and said he “would teach forever if I had a class full of Wylies”.
After graduating Wylie attended Point Park College to hone his craft even more, during summers he worked as lead dancer at Disney World and lead entertainer on Norwegian cruise lines. Around this time Wylie auditioned and won the role as adult Michael Jackson in the television film “The Jacksons an American dream”. A local hairstylist has recalled Wylie as being extremely calm and humble about his audition for the role of Michael Jackson, as he styled Wylie’s hair to look more like Michael Jackson’s he remembers the young man sitting in the chair listening to comedy tapes laughing!
Not much is known about Wylie’s life after his role as Michael Jackson, but it is apparent that his stellar performance did not lead to more lucrative film offers. He had a small role in another television film “The Disappearance of Christina”, was a dancer in Michael Jackson’s video “Remember the time” and another dancer in the cable show “The Red Shoe Diaries”, which aired after his death. Around 1993 Wylie was diagnosed as having a rare form of Leukemia, it is not known how long he battled illness or how he battled the disease, but what is known is that Wylie a talented young man with a bright future ahead of him was taken way too soon, he died December 20th 1993 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 24, with very little media fanfare.
After the death of Michael Jackson and the subsequent showings of the “The Jackson an American dream”, the public fascination with the young man who brilliantly portrayed Jackson in the film has grown, most fans expressed world-wide shock and disbelief at not knowing Wylie had passed in 1993, there are two face book tributes dedicated to his memory, a you tube tribute video and rumors of an upcoming website dedicated to Wylies memory. The young man famous for one film role has not been forgotten and managed to touch the lives of many. Wylie is at rest at Magnolia Gardens cemetery in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Wylie Draper Foundation
Since 1994, the WDF has been dedicated to the continuation of Wylie’s legacy of artistic excellence by supporting young aspiring artists through an annual memorial scholarship in his loving memory. The foundation is also passionate about raising awareness for bone marrow donation, especially in the African-American community. The WDF supports Be the Match and No Place for Hate.
The Wylie Draper Foundation (WDF) was established by the Draper family in January 1994 in celebration of the life and talent of Wylie Hughes Draper, Jr. Wylie is most notably known for his portrayal of Michael Jackson in the 1992 ABC mini-series, “The Jacksons: An American Dream.” Wylie’s role as Michael Jackson was the dream of a lifetime, especially since he was selected by Michael Jackson himself.
Wylie Draper was a passionate actor, dancer and choreographer of great caliber who was embarking on a promising career in television and cinema when he was diagnosed with leukemia in early 1993. After a brief remission, he succumbed to the disease in December 1993, at only 24 years of age.
To Wylie: You lived a short life, but you will never be forgotten. Now you and Michael are dancing together in heaven. Happy Birthday and rest in peace. Much Love, Cutie Pie ♥