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Jackson friend told AEG executive of fears singer might die

Karen Faye, Michael Jackson's longtime makeup artist, testifies about his declining health and says she warned his manager days before his death.

May 09, 2013|By Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times
  • Karen Faye said she worked on Michael Jackson's makeup and hair for the cover of "Thriller."
Karen Faye said she worked on Michael Jackson's makeup and hair for… (Epic Records )

A makeup artist and longtime friend of Michael Jackson said Thursday that in the days before his death the singer was paranoid, repeated himself continuously and was so cold she bundled him in a blanket, put him in front of a space heater and hugged him to try to stop the shivering.

Karen Faye, who had known Jackson for 27 years, said she took her concerns to an AEG executive five days before Jackson died of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol at his rented Holmby Hills mansion.

"I am fearful he will make him self so sick he will die," Faye wrote to Frank Dileo, Jackson's former manager.

Faye's testimony was the most dramatic so far in the wrongful death suit filed by Jackson's mother and three children against Anschutz Entertainment Group, the promoter of his comeback concert series in London.

Faye testified that she talked to top AEG executive Randy Phillips at Jackson's funeral, and he told her he had done everything he could.

Brian Panish, one of the Jackson family attorneys, asked whether she believed him.

"Sir, Michael Jackson was lying in a casket only a few feet away from me," she replied. "I had no response. That's not everything you can do."

Faye's testimony ranged from the days she worked on Jackson's makeup and hair for the cover of "Thriller," one of the bestselling albums of all time, through tours with the entertainer to the preparations for the ill-fated "This Is It" concerts the singer was preparing for when he died.

On Thursday, Faye recounted how Jackson was almost skeletal and that his skin felt like ice when she brought her concerns to concert director Kenny Ortega and Dileo.

"Kenny told me Randy Phillips hired one of the top 10 doctors in the entire world," Faye testified.

She learned that was Dr. Conrad Murray, the cardiologist later convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson propofol. Murray is serving a jail sentence. The family contends that Murray was on AEG's payroll and that the company controlled the doctor.

Faye said that at one point she visited Paul Gongaware, co-chief executive of AEG Live, who had served as manager for previous Jackson tours. She said she heard him talking on the phone to one of Jackson's security guards who told him the singer had locked himself in the bathroom of his home.

"Do whatever it takes," she testified Gongaware said. "Get him out of there. He needs to be here."

Faye, crying at times, said that after Jackson missed a rehearsal, Phillips and Ortega went to his house. Afterward, she said, she was pressured not to listen to Jackson and to get him on stage.

Faye also testified that Jackson began using prescription pain medication after he was burned in 1983 while making a Pepsi commercial and that she had refused to give injections to the singer.

Faye said that while backstage in Bangkok, Thailand, Jackson was having difficulty walking, seemed to be in a daze and stumbled over a potted tree in his dressing room.

Faye testified that she feared for Jackson's safety and urged a man she knew as "Dr. Forecast" not to let Jackson take the stage.

"I put my arms around Michael and said, `You can't take him,'" she said.

"Forecast replied, 'Yes I can,'" she testified.

The makeup artist testified that the man, who she said was "an insurance doctor," backed her against a wall and choked her until she couldn't breathe.

"He said, 'You don't know what you're up against,'" Faye testified.

The doctor took Jackson on stage to perform, she said.

The tour soon came to an end in Mexico City, when Elizabeth Taylor flew down to take the singer to a rehabilitation facility outside London, she said.

"Everyone knew Michael had a problem," Faye said.

Faye also testified that she was at Jackson's side during the 2005 trial in which Jackson was acquitted of molestation, helping him prepare for court each morning.

Faye cried as she described dressing him and washing his hair. They would get on their knees and pray, and then hug each other and cry. They played classical music and watched Three Stooges videos.

"He was afraid," she testified. "The pain got worse. He got thinner. "

jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

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