Glendale, Calif. Michael Jackson’s life played out on a world stage, headlines screaming his every move, frenzy following his footsteps.
His death, memorial and investigation amplified the delirium and prolonged the anguish of family and fans. On Thursday, he is scheduled to be interred at Forest Lawn Glendale in what will be a hidden monument in a mausoleum made of marble and mortar.
There will be only silence. No marquees, no spotlights, no paparazzi.
He will be enveloped by the grandeur of the grounds, the majesty of the buildings and the significance of history.
In the Great Mausoleum, he will join Hollywood legends of yesterday like Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, W.C. Fields and Red Skelton, as well as “The Last Supper Window,” a lifesize stained glass recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, and Moses, a reproduction of Michelangelo’s sculpture for the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome.
On a hilltop nearby, in a building the size of a sports arena, hang two of the world’s largest paintings, “The Crucifixion” and “Resurrection.”
Ron Hast, executive editor and publisher of the Northern California-based Mortuary Management with Funeral Monitor, operated a transportation backup service for Forest Lawn for 25 years. He doesn’t know exactly how many people are there, but it is “tens of thousands.” The celebrity list is long and includes George Burns, Gracie Allen, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole, he said.
Hast said the park is a good fit for Jackson because the management is expert at handling celebrity security “and they will do it with elegance and good taste.”
Cemetery Web sites and blogs have been buzzing since Jackson’s family announced the Forest Lawn plan. Hits to Lisa Burk’s blog at gravehunting.com have gone through the roof, she said. Interest in him “blows everything else out of the water because he was so internationally known.”
She said if the Jackson family wants privacy, they will get it at the mausoleum. “It’s impossible to get in there. It was before and it will be worse now.”
Even though visitors see a portion of the mausoleum when they go see the Last Supper show — a 10-minute presentation about the stained glass window, put on regularly 365 days a year — most of the multistory building is restricted. It is well monitored and some areas are only accessible with pass keys, Hast said.