Michael Jackson fans have been sending me emails asking for details about how they can visit his resting place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale.
To date, there has been no policy change regarding allowing the public inside the Great Mausoleum to see his sarcophagus located on Holly Terrace in the Sanctuary of Ascension alcove. It remains a private building, accessible only to families with loved ones entombed there. FLG insiders tell me that a 24/7 security detail remained in place for 30 days after he was laid to rest there, and now things are back to normal, relatively speaking. Security does drive-bys and also patrol on foot.
In recent weeks, readers who have visited family members located in crypts near Michael have reported to me that they were unescorted by security while inside the mausoleum and were able to view Michael's spot. All said it was adorned with floral and other tributes. Each person told me that they did not feel right about photographing the area, so they didn't. Besides, it's against posted cemetery rules.
Just prior to the premiere of the film Michael Jackson's This Is It, the first private photos of his sarcophagus began to surface on the internet. They were taken by Karen Faye, a makeup artist and longtime Jackson friend, who shared the images with his fans on her Facebook.
On Oct. 30, the same pictures appeared on CitizenSide.com and on Nov. 8 they received wider attention when TMZ posted them as an exclusive. A curious MJ fan who contacted TMZ about this development told me that TMZ said the photos/all rights were sold to them by their owner.
Update 11/30/2009: I contacted Karen Faye about the TMZ incident and here's what she told me. "I did not sell or give the photos to TMZ or any media group. They were stolen from my FB page. I have contacted TMZ and they will not give me any proof of where they got them. I would have to sue them to get any information. I do not have the time or money to devote to this pursuit." Thank you, Karen Faye, for the clarification. To date, TMZ continues to protect their source.
As you can see from the side by side comparisons, the TMZ/Karen Faye photos match the vintage Forest Lawn promotional photo of the Ascension Windows sarcophagus which I wrote about in September. A copy of the cemetery memorial arrangement contract, courtesy of TMZ, also verifies it as the interment property, listed at $590,000.
Many fans have reported to me that their memorial gifts taken to FLG were left at the Holly Terrace doors and later taken inside and placed at the sarcophagus by security. Click here to read Erin Jacob's account of her October visit. FLG insiders confirm to me that this is indeed how they have been handling the situation.
Yesterday I took my first run over to FLG since Micheal's funeral. While there I also purchased a single red rose in a vase at the cemetery gift shop to leave for Michael from Elena of Michael Jackson Imperium, his Swedish fan club. The cost was $7 and the floral staff couln't have been nicer.
On a side note: instead of reimbursing me for the flower, I asked Elena to donate the money to the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait project, which she is involved with. Sign up is free. The portait being created by artist David Ilan is made up of ink dots. Each person who signs up represents one dot in the portrait. Very cool. I'm now Dot # 235479.
Image courtesy of Michael Jackson Internet Fan Club
That said, let's start with a map of the FLG grounds, which indicates the road leading from the front gate to the mausoleum. There are also signs on the property to guide you.Next, here's an extremely rare map of Holly Terrace, provide by an anonymous, well connected blog reader. Its authenticity has been confirmed by two other very reliable sources.
Now let's talk about of points of reference. As you drive toward the Memorial Terrace -- which is the only terrace that the general public is allowed to go inside, and where you can see The Last Supper stained glass window -- you will see the outside of the Ascension Windows alcove on your left side. There are parking spaces on the right side of the road where you can pull over if you want to get out of your car to take a better look.
Continue driving past the Memorial Terrace entrance, going under the archway that connects the Memorial and Holly Terraces. This archway is recognizable from the funeral footage. You will be driving in the same direction as the white van in the photo below, following the route taken by the hearse carrying Michael's casket the night of the funeral.
Images courtesy of the Associated Press from their funeral coverage video
Continue driving a few more yards until you arrive at the Holly Terrace entrance, which is recognizable by the name over the door. It's located on a large stone platform and includes two sets of steps. There is also parking area on this side of the mausoleum, to the right of the entrance.
This photo of Holly Terrace was taken from the roadway where the outdoor funeral took place. Funeral guests were seated facing the archways, in the area where you will park, a few feet north (photo right, uphill) from where I was standing when I took this shot. The stage was positioned in front of the walkway, next to the pathway leading up to the Holly Terrace steps.
Here are views of the Holly Terrace entrance platform and doorway. A couple of security officers scrutinized me while I took these exterior snaps but didn't stop me, which indicated to me that the photography prohibited sign is meant for anyone going inside the mausoleum.
What will you see once you reach the door? Not much. The glass is double-paned and tinted. You'll have to also look past lipstick kisses. Below are samples of what you might be able to capture with your camera. I got these using my trusty digital Panasonic Lumix 5.0 in high sensitivity mode.
I'm a fan of architectural details, and if you are as well, be sure to check out the face carvings around the doorway. I'd love to know the story behind the design, if there is one. But that is for another adventure. In the meantime, I hope this guide helps to answer the questions you've submitted about Michael's resting place.
Thank you, KingD500, for this nice MJ tribute video: