AIDS was decimating the arts when Hollywood and television celebrities came to Laguna in the early 2000s to help raise funds for the Laguna Art Museum and AIDS Services Foundation.
Michael Jackson escorted Elizabeth Taylor to the first Art for AIDS fundraiser Feb. 9, 2002 at the museum.
Dr. Arnie Klein, Jackson’s dermatologist and friend of ASF founder Al Roberts, had arranged for Jackson, Taylor, Penny Marshall and Merv Griffin to attend.
Taylor was one of the most outspoken celebrities helping to raise awareness of AIDS. And yes, her eyes were every bit as beautiful as reported "” violet and double lashed. But her hair was a surprising blond.
Although heavily made up, Jackson looked better in person than he did in photographs and his demeanor toward Taylor was endearing. He held Taylor’s bejeweled hand throughout the press conference, his slender, costumed body curved protectively around her.
“It was a rocking event here at the museum, complete with the Orange County Sheriff and lots of traffic," museum director Bolton Colburn said. “I was amazed that Michael was willing to come out to support the arts and AIDS like he did. It was truly amazing."
Taylor and Marshall and other celebrities also attended subsequent Art for AIDS fundraisers at the St. Regis in Dana Point.
However, the only other occasion that Roberts spent time with Jackson was at a Mikhail Baryshnikov dance concert at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Jackson, a gifted dancer and choreographer, is known to have revered Baryshnikov.
“I sat with him for about two hours," Roberts said.
“He was a delightful person, but so childlike.
“I thought, he never had a childhood and now he’s playing it out. “
Jackson’s death at age 50 is now under investigation.