A Playboy model who starred alongside Michael Jackson in Thriller is set to sue the singer’s estate for millions in royalties.
Ola Ray, 56, played the King of Pop’s girlfriend in the 1983 cult classic, which has been viewed 423 million times on YouTube.
The former Playboy cover star of LA, California, says she’s owed 2.5 per cent of the total royalties from Thriller for her role in the production.
But she claims she’s been paid less than $200,000 (£153,020) in the 34 years since it was created and has been forced to live below the poverty line.
Furious Ola is speaking out after Optimum Productions re-released the clip in 3D form – a move which could make them millions.
She claims no one contacted her to let her know about the new film and she was shunned from its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Monday.
Ola now plans to bring the long-simmering battle to an end by taking the case to court in a bid to get what she’s owed.
The mum-of-one said: “I’m outraged, upset and in shock.
“When I heard rumors about a possible 3D version I contacted the director and said, ‘We need to talk about this,’ but he never responded to my email.
“They haven’t tried to contact me or negotiate anything.
“How do they think they can just do this without paying me?
“These people are making millions of dollars out of me but all I have received over 30 years is $200,000.
“They will make millions more out of this.
“If I’m not getting paid, no one should be able to see it.”
Ola was in her early twenties when she beat hundreds of other hopefuls to play Jacko’s girlfriend in the original Thriller, released in 1982.
The 14-minute short went on to help MJ’s Thriller album top the US chart for 37 weeks, selling a reputed 120 million copies and making it the best-selling record of all time.
Ola says she was initially only paid $2,500 (£1,910) for her part in the video, which she admits she would have done “for nothing”.
But she claims MJ promised her 2.5 per cent of the royalties from the Thriller film, which was the most expensive music video of its era with a budget of $500,000 (£382,600).
In 2012 the ex-glamour model was awarded $75,000 (£57,390) for back payment of royalties following a court battle but $20,000 (£15,304) of that went to her attorney.
But she claims she should also be paid for the new 3D release of the video, which she
Director John Landis, who also directed the original Thriller, said the new film uses the “latest available technology” and boasts the “highest quality audio and visual experience”.
Speaking at the Venice Film Festival, he also revealed that it is a preamble to bigger announcements and that two more Jackson legacy projects are to come.
Ola said: “I was so excited about being in Thriller. I knew it was really big.
“I probably would have done it for nothing but Michael gave me a contract.
“Despite what I was promised I ended up having to raise my daughter, who is now 22, basically on welfare.
“I have had to live below my means and in poverty because of this.
“If I had been receiving the money I should have received my life would be drastically different.
“They are trying to be sneaky again, but I really, truly believe that I will get what’s owed to me this time around.”
Attorney Scott Cole, who is advising Ola, said: “It’s shameful Ms. Ray wasn’t invited and welcomed with open arms at the Venice festival.
“Ms. Ray had a central role in this iconic production.
“Shutting her out of her full royalties all these years hardly honors the memory of Michael or the spirit of the relevant contracts.”
Last month a jury ruled that Quincy Jones, who produced the Thriller album, was owed $9.4m (£7.2m) in royalties and fees by Michael Jackson’s estate.
The estate had contended that Jones was owed just $392,000 (£299,919).
Optimum Productions are yet to respond to requests for a comment.