Even in Disguise, Michael Jackson Gets Attention

Times Staff Writer

There was something suspicious about the customer in the Zales Jewelers store in Simi Valley on Monday afternoon.

Maybe it was the wig. Or the phony-looking mustache and teeth.

But the thin man in the red baseball cap wasn't casing the joint, as employees feared when they called police.

It was singer Michael Jackson, hoping not to be noticed.

The encounter happened about 5 p.m. in the Sycamore Plaza mall. Wearing his get-up, Jackson was looking at rings.

Employee Julie Andrews (not the singer) said she became suspicious because he kept adjusting his mustache and looking in a mirror. Another Zales store had recently been robbed by men wearing disguises.

Employees summoned security guard H. N. Edwards, who asked the suspicious character to step outside. Why was he wearing a false mustache? Edwards demanded.

"I have to," he answered. "I'm in disguise. I'm Michael Jackson."

"My first thought was this guy had gotten off the elevator between floors," Edwards said Tuesday.

Jackson, one of the best-known pop singers in America, said the disguise was necessary to avoid being mobbed.

Edwards asked him to remove the mustache. He did and, sure enough, fans began gathering and asking for autographs. Three squad cars arrived.

"The officers were convinced he was who he said he was, and he went on his way," Officer Diane Sliester said Tuesday.

Jackson and a boy he was with visited a gift store and bought several toy figurines and a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, Sliester said. Then they drove away in a brown Mercedes-Benz.

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