Jackson so thin ‘I could see Michael’s heartbeat,’ costumer said

Michael Jackson performing during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in Pasadena.
(Rusty Kennedy / Associated Press)

The costume designer who worked with Michael Jackson was alarmed by the music legend’s frail figure during his last days, a makeup artist testified Friday.

Michael Bush -- who created much of the singer’s wardrobe for 25 years and wrote a book about the experience -- appeared upset after he finished up a June 2009 fitting inside Jackson’s bathroom at Staples Center, Karen Faye said.

“He said ‘Oh my god, Turkle. I could see Michael’s heartbeat through the skin in his chest,’” Faye recounted.

Turkle was Jackson’s nickname for Faye, who worked as his makeup artist off and on for nearly three decades.

PHOTOS: Michael Jackson | 1958-2009

Faye, in her second day on the stand, was emotional as she described the moment.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos then asked Faye about Bush’s tone of voice at the time.

“It was like, ‘Oh my god,’” Faye said. “He was pretty much in shock.”

Around the same time, Faye said she tried to warn Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo, about Jackson’s health.

“[Frank] was saying pretty much, ‘I got it under control, don’t worry about it,’” Faye said.

“I said, ‘But he’s losing weight rapidly.’ … I said, ‘Why don’t you ask Michael Bush to verify taking in his pants and how much weight he’s actually losing?’”

Faye said DiLeo went to speak to Bush and she overheard the manager say, “Get him a bucket of chicken.”

“It was such a cold response,” Faye said. “I mean, it broke my heart.”

The 2-week-old civil trial pits AEG against Jackson’s mother and three children who accuse the concert promoter of negligently hiring and controlling Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Jackson. Murray is now serving jail time for involuntary manslaughter.

Faye, who began working with Jackson in the early 1980s and did his hair and makeup for the “Thriller” album cover, said she felt the singer “did not have enough muscle mass to do a concert” as he was prepping for his “This Is It” comeback tour.

She said Jackson realized he didn’t look good in a video that was filmed to be used on giant screens during the concert series. At his request, she said, she assisted technicians retouching the singer’s image on the footage.

But the makeup artist said that although she was asked, she did not help retouch the posthumous “This Is It” documentary.

“Everybody was lying after he died, sir, that Michael was well,” Faye said to the Jacksons’ attorney, Brian Panish. “And everybody knew he wasn’t. I felt retouching Michael was just a part of that lie.”

During cross-examination by an AEG attorney, Faye clarified and said she had been torn about working on the documentary.

“My initial feeling was that I didn’t want to lie, and the second, my other thing that was tugging at my heart, was that if this movie was going out, I wanted him to look good.”

Faye said she helped prepare Jackson’s body for his casket.



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