Well, We Know What the Encore Is

Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

What will the celebrity hounds buzz about now?

Little Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon is 4 weeks old.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette have honeymooned in Turkey.

And now--with Lisa Marie Presley out of his life--the King of Pop has said “I do” again. Is the thrill of the chase--or the chase of the Thriller--about to be gone?

Michael Jackson, 38, exchanged wedding vows Thursday with six-months’ pregnant Debbie Rowe, a 37-year-old nurse from Van Nuys, far, far from home. The ceremony took place in Sydney, Australia (which is 18 hours ahead of Los Angeles time), his publicist said. This is a second marriage for both.

Christine Holevas, Jackson’s spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said, “It’s past midnight now [there] and they are married. That is confirmed. All I know is that it happened.”

True to form, the reclusive Jackson--whose “Thriller” is the top-selling album of all time-- begged to be left alone. “Please respect our privacy and let us enjoy this wonderful and exciting time,” he said in a written statement.

The private ceremony followed a Jackson concert in Sydney, the first leg of a new tour to promote “HIStory.” It was only a week and a half ago that Jackson announced that Rowe, a longtime friend, was pregnant and due to give birth in early 1997.

After word of the wedding got out, about 30 fans were camped outside the Sheraton on the Park Hotel in Sydney, said Kristina Radford, communications officer for the hotel, where the Jackson contingency occupies 30 to 40 rooms.

Radford said up to about 1,000 fans were outside the hotel Tuesday, when Jackson arrived.

Justin Kelly, a reporter for Radio 2UE, an all-talk station in Sydney, said that word of the marriage started spreading during Jackson’s sold-out concert at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

Kelly said the marriage ceremony was performed at the hotel following the concert, where about 40 reporters were waiting for further details. The marriage, he added, has been a popular topic on the station.

“He’s quite an enigmatic character. Some think he’s just weird, but everyone is fascinated by the story,” Kelly said.

On Nov. 4, Jackson disclosed that Rowe was pregnant with his child and denied a tabloid report that the couple used artificial insemination and that Rowe was paid.

“Reports speculating that Ms. Rowe was artificially inseminated are completely false and irresponsible,” read a press release Jackson issued at the time. There was no mention of wedding plans then, but some in Hollywood figured that they would tie the knot before the baby arrived.

Earlier this month, Jackson said, “I am thrilled that I will soon be a father. . . . This is my dream come true.”


According to People magazine, Rowe, a 1977 Hollywood High School graduate, married a teacher in 1982 and divorced eight years later. She lives in a one-bedroom Van Nuys apartment and rides a Harley-Davidson.

She is said to have met Jackson 15 years ago while working for Dr. Arnold Klein, who has treated Jackson for vitiligo, a rare skin condition that causes the loss of skin pigment. Klein treats many Hollywood figures, including Elizabeth Taylor and Cher and is a good friend of Jackson; he’s also said to be a thinly disguised character in Bruce Wagner’s acerbic new Hollywood novel “I’m Losing You” (Villard).

In January, Jackson’s first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of late rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Presley, filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences in a petition to end her 20-month marriage to the pop star. They were married in a secret ceremony in the Dominican Republic.

When the Jackson-Presley union was disclosed in May 1994, few took it seriously. It was seen by many as a public relations stunt to bolster Jackson’s image after a 13-year-old boy claimed he was molested by the entertainer. (The youngster filed a civil suit in 1993, but it was settled out of court for a reported $15 million-plus. Jackson was investigated in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties for alleged child molestation, which he denied. The investigations ended without charges.)

For now, Jackson’s publicity machine is not making any further statements. But pop psychology was quick on the draw.

“It’s a perfect match that Michael would marry a nurse,” said Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatric consultant to the book “Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness,” by J. Randy Taraborelli (Birch Lane Press / Carol Publishing Group, 1991). “We know that he is a Peter Pan type of little boy who has never grown up and has not had enough mothering, so it would make sense that he would marry a nurse. He is looking for someone to take care of him.”

But Lieberman doesn’t believe that Jackson, who is a staunch Jehovah’s Witness like his mother, got married for religious reasons. “I think it’s possible that he is trying to get his family’s approval in terms of religion. But I do think that this is more about image. He lost face when he and Lisa Marie split up and then she started bad-mouthing him to the press in regard to his sexuality. I think that his marriage is largely for image repair,” says Lieberman, who also is the host of her own L.A. talk radio show. “He wants to make his life seem more traditionally wholesome and less perverse.”


Meanwhile, a clerk on the main rock floor at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood reported, “We haven’t sold one Michael Jackson record since we opened this morning.”

At Tower Records, where people clamor for big releases, nothing was hopping regarding Jackson’s wedding bell news. Why?

“It’s simple. When you have been as famous as he has for 20 years, he’s gonna sell his 10 million copies of whatever no matter what, no matter what kind of news he generates,” said employee Andrew Davis. “Nothing Michael does surprises anyone. But music-wise at times he doesn’t live up to his potential.”

How about as a daddy and hubby?

“Now he’ll have potential there,” Davis said, “for the simple reason that that would be a new frontier for him.”