After suffering cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home on Thursday afternoon, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at a hospital, marking a bizarre and tragic end to a 50-year life -- 45 years of which were spent as one of the world's most iconic popular entertainers.
Mr. Jackson was in the midst of attempting to rehabilitate his career after several years' worth of controversy that saw him essentially stop performing or releasing new music. Even before a criminal trial on child-molestation charges that ended in acquittal in 2005, Mr. Jackson's career was in a holding pattern.
The sidewalks outside UCLA Medical Center were overflowing with people by mid-afternoon on Thursday. Some onlookers burst into tears even before an official announcement of his death had been made.
Others practiced his signature moonwalk and sand Jackson pop songs. A student residence across the street blared Jackson music from a stereo. News helicopters swirled overhead.