The Michael Jackson made of wax stood there, silently, as throngs of passers-by stopped to take a picture next to him.
Most smiled as family members snapped photos from a few feet away. Some cried. One grabbed his crotch in an exaggerated imitation of one of the King of Pop’s signature dance moves.
But the wax version of the deceased pop icon just stood there, wobbling occasionally when someone touched it. Its eyes, cast downward, seemed just a little bit sad.
After the real Michael Jackson’s death Thursday afternoon, officials at Madame Tussauds at The Venetian scrambled to get their wax figure out in front of the museum.
Attraction Manager Rosita Chapman said they wanted to share the figure — which has been with the museum since its inception 10 years ago — with everybody. They set up flowers, an "in loving tribute" sign and a guest book for people to sign.
It was nice, said 39-year-old Michelle Vermuele of Tucson, Ariz., who wrote in the book, "Rhythm like no other!!"
"I couldn’t believe the news," she said after posing next to the figure. "I thought it was some sort of publicity stunt.
"It just seems very surreal."
Carolyn Boyle, a 47-year-old from Scotland, hadn’t heard the news until she passed by the exhibit. An employee of Madame Tussauds broke the news to her and she broke down in tears.
After fighting to contain herself while her husband snapped a photo of her next to the figure, she said "It’s such a shame."
The wax Jackson will be on display for the next few days, Chapman said, and people are invited to leave signs and other mementos next to it.
The influence of the pop star was immense. After 38-year-old Harald Woelke stood grimly by, the tourist from Germany explained how he owned every one of Jackson’s albums and how he became choked up when he heard the news.
"When you see ‘Germany’s Next Superstar’ — it’s like your ‘American Idol’ — there are at least 20 to 30 people doing Michael Jackson things, dancing and singing," he said.
He signed the guest book, "4-ever dancing in our hearts!"
"I think everybody has a story about how much they loved him," said Nicole Francis, who was visiting from New York City. "My co-worker had the Jackson 5 posters on her walls. For me I had the "Beat It" jacket.
"I don’t think I really believe it yet," she said.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at email@example.com or 702-383-0440.SLIDESHOW: Jackson in Las Vegas
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