Michael Jackson was a devoted dad adored by his three children,
lifelong friend and Oliver! movie star Mark Lester revealed yesterday.
Distraught Mark, 50, who has four children of his own, is godfather to the singer's youngsters Prince, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Blanket.
He said: "My feelings are for those poor children - I love those kids dearly. They are an extended part of my family.
"They adored Michael and he adored them. He was a really good father. He was a relaxed, natural dad.
"Michael had a very strict moral code - they were not allowed to run riot but they are extremely bright and intelligent kids.
"My happiest memories of Michael are when we relaxed as families together watching DVDs or playing music - just being together. We did that many times." Mark now lives with second wife Lisa, a nurse, and his family in Cheltenham, Glos, where he works as an osteopath in his own clinic.
He became close friends with Michael - seven weeks his junior - when they met up as child stars.
Mark was nine when he was cast in the title role of Oliver! in 1968.
Young Michael, then with the Jackson 5, loved the movie so much he arranged to meet Mark during a visit to Britain and the pair remained in close touch ever since.
Mark even took his family on holidays to the superstar's Neverland ranch.The singer showered thousands of pounds worth of gifts on Mark's children when the two families spent last Christmas together in Dubai.
And he splashed out on more presents when they met up in London three months ago to see comic Rowan Atkinson in a new West End stage version of Oliver!