On August 27th, 1994 Michael was best man at Miko Brando and Karen Hamilton's wedding at Neverland Ranch.
Later Michael had to leave the wedding reception when he learned of the tragic death of Delores "Dee Dee" Jackson, who was Tito's ex wife and mother of the 3T, Toriano Adaryll Jackson II (also known as Taj), Taryll Adren Jackson and Tito Joe Jackson (also known as TJ).
Monday, February 17, 2014
People Magazine, October 21, 1991
He does, she does - they do!
Never a bridesmaid, always a bride, Liz Taylor confounds the skeptics and marries workingman Larry Fortensky
First Things first. No, Bubbles did not carry the rings down the aisle.
In fact, as Michael Jackson escorted Elizabeth Taylor to the gardenia-bedecked gazebo where she would take Larry Fortensky as her seventh lawfully wedded husband, the singer’s beloved chimp was nowhere in sight. But what about his giraffe, which was also rumored to be in the wedding party? No. Did former Presidents Reagan and Ford show? No. (Both claimed other commitments.) Madonna? No. (She wasn’t invited.) What about the swan-shaped bridal boat? The hot-air-balloon rides? The antipaparazzi pits teeming with tarantulas? No, no, no!
There was, perhaps, no way the Oct. 6 Taylor-Fortensky union could have lived up to the prewedding buzz, which had hovered about Jackson’s 2,700-acre Santa Ynez Valley, Calif., estate almost palpably, like a swarm of overexcited honeybees. (When the ceremony started at 6:30 P.M.—1½ hours late—that buzz was replaced by the din of about a dozen helicopters hired by some media outlets to spy.) By the time the deeply bronzed bride bade good night in her pale-yellow, $25,000 gown (a gift from the designer Valentino), some of the chosen 160 on the guest list actually felt a tad let down. “People were filled with expectations that didn’t materialize,” reports one guest, who had thought Jackson would throw a wilder party. “Here’s the greatest showman in the world—you would expect some entertainment or glamour.”
Maybe. But Liz, 59, has gone for a solid, earthbound type in Larry, 39, a twice-divorced construction worker she met in 1988 when both were battling drug dependencies at the Betty Ford Center. And though their lifestyle includes cheeseburgers for lunch and a basketball hoop installed in the driveway of her Bel Air manse, there was plenty about their ceremony to remind the world of the bride’s celebrity status. At what other wedding reception could you find Twentieth Century Fox chief Barry Diller and his date, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, bouncing on a trampoline, while Valentino and Roiling Stone editor and publisher Jann Wenner romped in Jackson’s private amusement park?
For that matter, how many other weddings are guarded by a former Israeli army officer (Moshe Alon) and backed by a 100-man security force? Even then, things sometimes got out of hand. The guards could do nothing to stop a parachuting photographer from landing 20 feet from the gazebo during the ceremony. Nor could they prevent Barbara Davis (wife of billionaire Marvin) from disregarding Taylor’s written injunction against women wearing black. (Yellow was also taboo, because it would match the bride.)
Earlier in the week, as wedding guests gathered in Los Olivos (pop. 250), six miles from Jackson’s Never-land Valley ranch, the usually blasé locals (residents Bo Derek, Cheryl Ladd and Steven Seagal seldom attract much attention) camped out-at Clausen’s Old-Fashioned Deli to monitor the Grand Hotel across the street. Foiled in their attempts to catch any celebs entering the hotel for the post-rehearsal barbecue, frustrated stargazers began chanting “We want Liz!” and tried to sneak into the building. Bystanders were soon joking that Clausen’s had come up with a recipe for a Liz and Larry special: lettuce alone.
But uninvited guests would continue to toss in unwelcome ingredients. As best man Jose Eber, Taylor’s hair-stylist, and matron of honor Norma Heyman, a longtime Taylor friend, took their places and watched Elizabeth take her eighth bridal walk, on the arms of a two-black-gloved Jackson and her eldest son, Michael Wilding Jr., 38, the helicopter racket crescendoed, drowning out renowned soprano Aprile Millo’s “Ave Maria” and alarming the guests. According to Fess (Daniel Boone) Parker, a Jackson neighbor, “Frankly, some pretty stalwart men of the screen felt nervous.”
To those looking on, the words uttered by the couple and Hollywood self-help guru Marianne Williamson, who presided over the nondenominational ceremony (Liz is Jewish; Larry is Protestant), were mostly inaudible. “But you could just look in their eyes,” says Von Furstenberg, “and tell Liz was very happy.” Ignoring all distractions, Taylor and Fortensky exchanged vows and rings (his is plain gold; hers is set with pavé diamonds). After they kissed, Taylor placed a loving hand on her new husband’s cheek.
As dusk fell, the two moved down a tree-lined candlelit walkway to the reception tent. Taylor took Fortensky’s hand for the first dance, during which Michael Jackson and his date, Brooke Shields, cut in. Afterward, Taylor raised a glass of mineral water to her host, who reportedly paid for much of the estimated $1.5 million event. “You’ve been so generous, it makes me want to cry,” she said. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”
Despite the free-flowing Dom Perignon, chardonnay from Fess Parker’s nearby winery, platters of rolled salmon and five tiers of chocolate-mousse cake, a few tongues still found time to wag. Many clucked about the absence of Ronald Reagan—especially since Taylor had moved the wedding ahead a day to accommodate him.
The presence of the Fortensky clan, who declined limo service and arrived in their own cars, caused whispers among those curious about Taylor’s new in-laws. Still, the groom’s family felt comfortable with the glamorous folk from Hollywood and points east. “I thought they would be snobby,” says Larry’s stepsister Wendy Lacy, a teacher’s aide from Modesto, Calif., “but not at all.” The family was touched when Liz’s assistant, Jorjett Strumme, toasted Taylor’s mother, Sara, and Larry’s grandmother Mary McGill and then mentioned how unfortunate it was that Larry’s mother, Dot Lacy, had died in August and could not be present. “It was really, really nice of her,” says Larry’s sister Linda Mitchell, who works in a brewery in Irwindale, Calif.
At about 10:30 P.M., the newlyweds sauntered off to Jackson’s ranch house, where they spent several nights before a scheduled two-day tour to promote Taylor’s new White Diamonds perfume—after which they were to honeymoon in a secret location. As the party ended, there was endless musing about the couple’s future. Syndicated newspaper columnist and veteran Taylor watcher Liz Smith, the only journalist invited to report on the wedding, was optimistic and found nothing incongruous about the star beginning life with a man whose background could hardly be more remote from her own. “It will be fun for her,” says Smith. “After all, Elizabeth is no snob. Under the high gloss of her facade, she is really an ordinary woman who has led an extraordinary life.”
So it is fitting that Taylor found love again at an extraordinary place—Betty Ford—with a man who has seen her at her most human and vulnerable and whom she has seen at his. According to Williamson, who counseled the couple before the wedding, “There is obviously a very deep place within them where they connect and share a lot of love.”
Elizabeth and Larry in Life magazine, Volume 15, 1992
Elizabeth:Michael Jackson gave us our wedding. Michael and I love each other like a brother and sister.The press depicts him as a weirdo. They couldn’t be more wrong. He’s a paradox. A brilliant businessman — and a beautiful pure soul, instinctive and unscathed. A dreamer who makes things happen. We were married on his estate, a magical place. But the media did their best to ruin the day. The security people flew huge balloons over the whole area. They were attached to the ground by wires, so the choppers couldn’t zoom in to get pictures . But when the service began, there were 22 helicopters overhead.
Larry:The noise was unbelievable.
Elizabeth:I said, “Those sons of bitches! Then I said, “The hell with ‘em! They can’t touch us. This is our day.”
Larry:It was scary. The pilots were taking terrible chances, trying to pierce the balloon barrage.
Elizabeth: They could have crashed on us all. Killed 200 people. At the height of the ceremony a photographer parachuted into the crowd and almost hit Gregory Peck. But those guys didn’t get one good photograph. Herb Ritts took the wedding pictures, which were sold all over the World.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Watch this absolutely amazing behind the scenes footage from Oprah's interview with Michael at Neverland! The first part is shot inside the master bedroom, the second part in the amusement park.
Michael looks gorgeous - and Neverland, well... I don't think I have really realized what was lost until now.
Now we know what they're looking at - and why Michael looks embarrassed!
Thursday, February 6, 2014
In Elizabeth's own words:
"Years before, soon after Larry Fortensky and I got married at Michael's Neverland Valley Ranch, I couldn't think of what to give Michael to show my undying thanks. He rarely invites anyone to Neverland, and this was the first time, which was so generous, such a glamorous compliment to our friendship. I had been trying to think of a truly meaningful way to thank him. Then I got an idea: Michael has a zoo. I'll get him an elephant! That clinched it. I got him a big Asian elephant named Gypsy. I guess you could say we exchanged elephants."
From Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies:
The sound is rather poor so here's a transcript of what they are saying:
(Clip of a helicopter landing on the ranch and Elizabeth coming out with two men)
MJ: One day, I get this call from Elizabeth Taylor saying she wants to come to the ranch. She flew out in this helicopter.
(Man driving Elizabeth in a cart):
Man: How are you?
(Elizabeth leaving the cart and whispering loudly):
Elizabeth: Hi. Is Michael out in front?
MJ: I knew by the tone of her voice that something was up. But I had no idea how big the surprise was.
(The three walking an elephant in)
MJ: She came out with this huge elephant.
(Elizabeth patting the elephant, laughing and Michael walking out with his head in his hands):
MJ: It was unbelievable.
Michael: (hushed) Hi… its great… Elizabeth…
(Elizabeth holds out her arms to hug him)
Michael: That… it’s beautiful…
MJ: At first, I was kinda scared cos this thing is huge!
(Michael patting the truck from a distance, chewing gum)
MJ: Eventually, I got into it, feeding him carrots and stuff like that.
(Michael feeding the elephant)
Elizabeth: (inaudible)… I think that’s pretty good.
(Michael ducks away after feeding him)
Elizabeth: No, I can’t…
(Both feeding the elephant)
Man: Great stuff. Got a whole mouth….
Elizabeth: You seem like a garbage can!
Michael: Lift your foot.
Elizabeth: Look at your foot!
MJ: I love elephants. They’re gentle giants, really.
(Elizabeth laughing at something Michael said, who’s ducking his head, smiling)
MJ: Elizabeth was dressed like a gypsy. And that’s why we named the elephant Gypsy. It was one of the best presents that I’ve ever gotten. I was so happy that day. Was a wonderful experience.
Michael Gives Her a Tapestry of Her, Private Home Movies, 1991
(Scene of the door to a room in the house)
MJ: But what Elizabeth didn’t know, that I was planning a surprise for her, also.
(The door opens and Elizabeth gasps):
Elizabeth: Oh my God!
(Scene of a large tapestry of Elizabeth on the wall)
Elizabeth: That’s amazing! I love it! Oh, thank you! (kissing him).
Michael: You’re welcome.
Elizabeth: What is it made of? A carpet?
MJ: The gift that I gave Elizabeth, to me was very unique. It looks like a painting, but it isn’t.
Elizabeth: Wow! That’s incredible Michael.
Michael: I love that color.
MJ: It’s a tapestry. This guy did it piece by piece.
Michael: And I wrote something on the bottom.
Elizabeth: Oh! (checking the bottom).
Man: Elizabeth… I love you… Michael.
Elizabeth: Oh, I love it!
Michael: Do you have a place for it? Maybe, this seems like…
Elizabeth: Now I may have to build a house.
Michael: Hahaha! (ducks head, laughing).
MJ: I think it was a shot of one of her movies.
Elizabeth: I think it’s fabulous!
Michael: I saw that commercial you have er… its beautiful.
Elizabeth: Do you like it?
Michael: Awh… it’s incredible! (hushed).
Elizabeth: Well maybe you’ll see one of my films one of these days.
Michael: Ah haha! (laughs). I knew you were gonna say…
Elizabeth: Hahaha! (laughing).
Michael: I’m seeing Virginia Woolf.
Elizabeth: Well, congratulations!
Michael: I’m seeing it today actually.
Elizabeth: We have to explain the joke. The last film that Michael saw me in, he thought I was really wonderful in, was a film called White Cliffs of Dover.
(Michael looking away, smiling shyly)
Elizabeth: And I was nine years old.
Michael: Heh! (laughs).
Elizabeth: Hmhmhm! (laughs and puts her hand on his shoulder). So he will see me as a grown up.
Michael: Yeah (nods and smiles shyly).
Elizabeth: He may never speak to me again!
Michael: Hahaha! (laughs).
Elizabeth: It’s amazing.
MJ: It wasn’t quite as big as Gypsy, heh… (laughs), but I think she liked my gift as much as I liked hers.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Article from AP, Associated Press, July 1st, 2009:
Fans, news media flock to Jackson's Neverland
Adoring fans and dozens of news crews crowded around Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch on Wednesday in anticipation of witnessing the finale to the story of the King of Pop, only to learn that no funeral was planned there.
Hotel rooms in the bucolic wine country surrounding Jackson's estate sold out within minutes of the first — and eventually, erroneous — reports Tuesday that the pop icon might be buried there.
And residents of Los Olivos, who were plagued by reporters following Jackson's 2003 arrest on child molestation charges, once more had their lives upended by streams of TV vans and fans eager to mark the passing of the pop culture giant.
By Tuesday night, more than 30 TV news trucks parked outside the gates of Neverland Ranch. Yellow police tape kept gawkers and media off the property of two private schools across the street from the ranch, which is tucked off a winding, two-lane country road in Santa Barbara County, and fans in campers trickled in.
The excitement, however, appeared to be for nothing.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that no public memorial would be held at Neverland Ranch and that Jackson would likely be buried in Los Angeles. The source, who was not authorized to speak for the family and requested anonymity, told the AP that nothing is planned at least through Friday, although the family could have a private memorial at Neverland after Jackson is buried.
Inside the gates of the theme-park-style estate, at least two dozen workers could be seen placing fresh sod along the drive to the main house, mowing the lawn and doing maintenance on an ornate, iron-and-gold gate within the ranch.
The fountains were on and sprinklers had been set out to water the grass. Fresh flowers surrounded its train station.
A receptionist at KW Custom Iron, which had a crew at Neverland, said the company was not authorized to comment on what kind of work they were doing there. She declined to give her name.
Meanwhile, at Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn, rooms sold out within 20 minutes of the first media reports that Jackson would be buried — or at least memorialized — on the grounds of Neverland, said Jessica Larsen, the hotel's general manager.
"It was first media and then after about an hour, the fans were calling in," she said. "There's been quite a few people calling, even internationally, and it's been hard for them" to learn the inn is fully booked.
Residents in Los Olivos, a laid-back town used to wine tourists, took the crush of fans and reporters in stride — especially after weathering a similar onslaught during Jackson's arrest, trial and eventual acquittal. More than 2,200 reporters camped out at the Santa Barbara County courthouse for the proceedings and dozens roamed the winding roads around Los Olivos during that time.
Rebecca Gomez, a local artist, was busy early Wednesday setting up an exhibition of her work that was scheduled to open later that day. She said she'd already noticed that the people arriving for this chapter in the Michael Jackson story seemed different than the ones who jammed the city when he was on trial four years ago.
"Whatever happens now is respectful instead of that other crowd we had the last time," she said.
Eligio Baustista, who was sweeping the stoop in front of the Los Olivos Cafe, said his boss had told the staff to prepare for a busy week as the King of Pop's burial plans unfolded.
"My manager said we're expecting of lot of people who will be coming up for the viewing," he said, before it was learned that there would be no public memorial there.