Michael Jackson is being interred at Forest Lawn Glendale, a 103-year-old cemetery that has evolved over the years into a memorial park known almost as much for its art and architecture as some of its occupants.
A few facts:
_ Privately owned Forest Lawn Glendale is located on 300 acres just seven miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Forest Lawn created the country's largest endowment care fund. It was $125 million in 1995 and has increased significantly since then.
_ The 25-foot tall gates at the entrance of the park were erected in 1932. Forest Lawn says they are the largest wrought-iron gates in the world.
_ The first piece of artwork was bought by Hubert Eaton in 1915 for $800. Titled "Duck Baby," the small bronze statue of a girl holding a duckling under each arm was sculpted by Edith Barretto Parsons. The board of directors objected mightily when Eaton proposed the purchase, saying art didn't belong in a cemetery and it cost too much. Eaton rescinded the proposal before there was a vote, then went out and bought it with his authority and budget as general manager.
_ One of the most imposing statues in the park is a 17-foot Carrara marble statue of the Biblical David in a stone courtyard overlooking the San Fernando Valley.
The original was unveiled on June 22, 1939, supported by leaf springs. It also was given a fig leaf. David toppled and broke into pieces during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake and had to be replaced, this time bolstered with a sheet of Teflon for support. The fig leaf was forgotten. But David came tumbling down again during the 1994 Northridge quake. The third David sits in a pedestal on wheels in a dish based on preservation strategy done by the Getty Museum. And there is no fig leaf.
_ The "Last Supper Window" in The Great Mausoleum took Rosa Caselli Moretti six years to make in Italy. It was dedicated on April 28, 1931. Visitors can watch a 10-minute show about the window and its history 365 days a year every half hour between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Visitors also get 10 minutes to look at the many monuments, crypts and niches along the hallways and view reproductions of some of Michelangelo's greatest work.
_ At the top of the park is the Forest Lawn museum and the Hall of The Crucifixion-Resurrection, built to house two massive paintings on the life of Christ. The Crucifixion, by Polish artist Jan Styka, measures 195 feet by 45 feet. The hall, dedicated on Good Friday 1951, housed only that painting until 1965, when Robert Clark's Crucifixion was added. A 22-minute narrated show on the paintings ends with Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." They are open every day except Monday.
_ The Church of the Recessional was modeled after Rudyard Kipling's Rottingdean, England, church and named for his poem "Recessional."
_ The Little Church of the Flowers was inspired by an English village church in Stoke Poges, England, where Thomas Gray wrote the poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
_ The Wee Kirk o' the Heather church is styled after a church in Glencairn, Scotland.
_ The Court of Freedom is home to a mosaic of John Trumbull's "Signing of the Declaration of Independence" and is three times larger than the original in the U.S. Capitol. The mosaic is made of 700,000 pieces of Venetian glass in 1,500 colors.
_ Artwork in the Court of Freedom includes "The Republic," a bronze original by Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. Nearby is "George Washington" by John Quincy Adams Ward. It is said to be the best sculptural likeness of Washington. It was originally commissioned by Congress and destined for the Capitol, but there was some kind of mix-up and that allowed Forest Lawn to get it.
Information from Forest Lawn literature and the Web site, http://www.forestlawn.com