News media crews are staged outside Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California September 3, 2009. [Agencies]
GLENDALE, California: Michael Jackson will share eternity with the likes of Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and WC Fields, entombed alongside them in a grand marble mausoleum that will be all but off-limits to adoring fans who might otherwise turn the pop star's grave into a shrine.
A private family ceremony was set for Thursday night inside the massive multistory building at star-studded Forest Lawn Glendale cemetery. The service comes one month after a lavish public memorial that displayed the King of Pop's gleaming golden casket to millions on TV.
After the burial, the closest the public will be able to get to Jackson's vault is a portion of the mausoleum that displays "The Last Supper Window," a life-size stained-glass re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece. Several 10-minute presentations about the window are held regularly 365 days a year, but most of the building is restricted.
Lisa Burk, who blogs about celebrity graves at www.gravehunting.com, said the Jackson family chose well for his final resting place if it was privacy they were after.
"It's impossible to get in there," Burk said. "It was before, and it will be worse now."
By late afternoon Thursday, media tents had cropped up all along the boulevard across from the wrought-iron gates that serve as the main entrance to Forest Lawn. That vantage point offered no view of any mausoleum -- just a fountain and a building containing the gift shop.
Glendale police were providing security for the indoor service, which was well inside the sprawling grounds and by-invite only. Family representatives have said the affair was to be private, with no press allowed.
No fans were allowed inside the blocked-off media area, nor had anyone gathered on the fringes of the perimeter by late afternoon. A car accident near the barricades diverted the attention of some officers, and an elementary school across the street was emptying of curious students.
The Jackson family had booked an Italian restaurant in Pasadena for a gathering Thursday night, said Alex Carr, assistant operations manager at Villa Sorriso, in the city's Old Town district. She wouldn't specify the menu or number of people, but said the entire restaurant, which can accommodate 200 guests, had been reserved for the event and that security would be present.
The ceremony ends months of speculation that the singer's body would be buried at Neverland Ranch, in part to make the property a Graceland-style attraction. An amended copy of Jackson's death certificate was filed Thursday in Los Angeles County to reflect Forest Lawn as his final resting place.
In court on Wednesday, it was disclosed that 12 burial spaces were being purchased by Jackson's estate at Forest Lawn Glendale, about eight miles north of downtown Los Angeles, but no details were offered on how they would be used.
The King of Pop died a drug-induced death June 25 at age 50 as he was about to embark on a comeback attempt. The coroner's office has labeled the death a homicide, and Jackson's death certificate lists "injection by another" as the cause.
Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, told detectives he gave the singer a series of sedatives and the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him sleep.
But prosecutors are still investigating, and no charges have been filed.