Remember the Time

When Michael Jackson died a year ago, I wrote about the time I shook hands with the King of Pop. I can’t believe I had forgotten about another close encounter with him. An email from a friend brought the memory rushing back.

I had been invited to a press preview of the “Back to the Future: The Ride” at Universal Studios Hollywood. I brought my daughter along as my guest. Almost all the other people there were local radio and television folks. The one celebrity we recall meeting was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who chatted with us about his upcoming role in “The Lion King.”

One of the names on the guest list was Michael Jackson. The event organizers told me they were expecting the then-KABC talk show host with the same name. I was standing near the check-in table when the music megastar walked through the entrance of the pipe-and-drape VIP area. They weren’t prepared for a VVIP such as MJ. Somebody immediately escorted him and his guests into the building so they could go on the ride before all the media rabble. It wasn’t the last time people confused the two. One year ago fans gathered at the radio host’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame instead of the singer’s.

My friend Pam Baker’s story is more interesting. Here is the email she sent out today:

It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year since the death of Michael Jackson. It’s a day that I will never forget… it was my first week at K-EARTH 101. A little personal story about Michael:
When I worked at Disneyland, I got a call from security informing me that Michael Jackson was coming to the Park on New Year’s Eve (one of the busiest days of the year). We all had to kick into high gear to make sure that his visit was perfect. Michael Eisner was even driving in to see Michael. I had heard that he was a vegetarian and had a personal chef, so we were concerned that we wouldn’t have the right food for him. When he arrived, my assistant and I asked him what he wanted to eat. We almost fell over when he said, “Disneyland food!” He ate popcorn, Fantasia ice cream, green salad with ranch dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, pickles, a variety of foods from one of the Main Street restaurants. He was quiet, but a gentleman, and very sweet and generous. He said “thank you” a lot! The fans went crazy in the Park and there was a near riot on Main Street but he took photos with fans and signed autographs until it became unsafe. He was like a child at heart — a sweet soul.

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