Guest: Jackson funeral touching, emotional
Associated Press - 20 minutes ago
Story photo: Guest: Jackson funeral touching, emotionalIn this handout photo provided by Harrison Funk/The Jackson Family, Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at Michael Jackson's funeral service held at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park on Sept. 3, 2009 in Glendale, Calif. (AP Photo/The Jackson Family/Harrison Funk) --Associated Press
GLENDALE, Calif. - Michael Jackson, his gold coffin topped by a bejeweled crown, was laid to rest Thursday night at a funeral more than two months after his death and, because of his family's tardy arrival, nearly two hours late.
The King of Pop was mourned by celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Bonds and Macaulay Culkin at a private service outside the elaborate Forest Lawn Glendale mausoleum where Jackson was to be entombed.
As the hour-and-a-half service ended, Jackson's mother appeared extremely weary and had to be helped to her car, according to one guest at the service. The person, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the day, said the service was simple but touching and emotional.
Gladys Knight sang a gospel song and a minister spoke briefly, although there was no reading of Scripture. Friends of the Jackson family were invited to speak and several did, telling of their admiration of the Jacksons, who raised themselves up from poverty.
They recalled Michael Jackson's sense of humor — if he were here today, they said, he would be laughing and smiling.
Afterward, the mourners stood and followed the crowned, lushly flower-draped casket as his five brothers carried it into the mausoleum. Each wore a bright red tie and a single crystal-studded glove.
Inside, Knight performed the hymn "Our Father," which moved many to tears. The guest said Katherine Jackson had a difficult time going into the mausoleum; she was overcome, turned back, and it wasn't clear if she went in at all.
Jackson's daughter Paris, 10, cried as the group entered the mausoleum, but she and brothers Prince Michael, 12, and Prince Michael II, 7, known as Blanket, were composed through most of the service.
There were two oversized portraits of a youthful, vibrant Jackson mounted next to the casket amid displays of white lilies and roses. At Jackson's lavish public memorial, red roses covered his casket.
No explanation was given to mourners for the service's delay. The 77-year-old Taylor and others were left waiting in the late summer heat, with the temperature stuck at 90 degrees just before sunset. Some mourners fanned themselves with programs for the service.
Police had escorted the family's motorcade of 31 cars, including Rolls-Royces and Cadillacs, from Encino to Forest Lawn, about a 20-minute journey, with the hearse bearing Jackson's body at the end.
The invitation notice indicated the service would begin promptly at 7 p.m.; it began closer to 8:30.
About 250 seats were arranged for mourners over artificial turf laid roadside at the mausoleum, and a vivid orange moon, a mark of the devastating wildfire about 10 miles distant, hung over the cemetery.
A large, blimp-like inflated light, the type used in film and television production, and a boom camera hovered over the seating area placed in front of the elaborate marble mausoleum. The equipment raised the possibility that the footage would be used for the Jackson concert documentary "This Is It," or perhaps the Jackson brothers' upcoming reality show.
Nearly double the number of media credentials, 440, were issued to reporters and film crews who remained at a distance from the service and behind barricades.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who gave a rousing eulogy at Jackson's public memorial two months ago, posted on his Twitter account — while the service was still under way — that he made a repeat performance Thursday night.
"I just spoke at the conclusion of tributes," Sharpton wrote. "Gladys Knight sang her heart out. Now we prepare to lay him to rest."
The few clusters of fans who gathered around the secure perimeter that encircled the cemetery entrance struggled to see much. Maria Martinez, 25, a fan from Riverside, Calif., who was joined by a dozen other Jackson admirers at a gas station near the security perimeter, gave a handful of pink flowers to a man with an invitation driving into the funeral.
"Can you please put these flowers on his grave?" she told him. Martinez said she picked them from a nearby park.
"They were small and ugly, but I did that with my heart," she said. "I'm not going to be able to get close, so this is as close as I could get to him."
The man consented, adding, "God bless."
Glendale police said all was going smoothly early in the evening and there were no arrests.
Jackson will share eternity at Forest Lawn with the likes of Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and W.C. Fields, entombed alongside them in the mausoleum that will be all but off-limits to adoring fans who might otherwise turn the pop star's grave into a shrine.
The closest the public will be able to get to Jackson's vault is a portion of the mausoleum that displays "The Last Supper Window," a life-size stained-glass re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece. Several 10-minute presentations about the window are held regularly 365 days a year, but most of the building is restricted.
Lisa Burk, who blogs about celebrity graves at Adventures in Grave Hunting by Lisa Burks, said the Jackson family chose well for his final resting place if it was privacy they were after.
"It's impossible to get in there," Burk said. "It was before, and it will be worse now."
The Jackson family had booked an Italian restaurant in Pasadena for a gathering Thursday night, said Alex Carr, assistant operations manager at Villa Sorriso, in the city's Old Town district. She wouldn't specify the menu or number of people, but said the entire restaurant, which can accommodate 200 guests, had been reserved for the event and that security would be present.
The ceremony ends months of speculation that the singer's body would be buried at Neverland Ranch, in part to make the property a Graceland-style attraction. An amended copy of Jackson's death certificate was filed Thursday in Los Angeles County to reflect Forest Lawn as his final resting place.
In court on Wednesday, it was disclosed that 12 burial spaces were being purchased by Jackson's estate at Forest Lawn Glendale, about eight miles north of downtown Los Angeles, but no details were offered on how they would be used.
The King of Pop died a drug-induced death June 25 at age 50 as he was about to embark on a comeback attempt. The coroner's office has labeled the death a homicide, and Jackson's death certificate lists "injection by another" as the cause.
Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, told detectives he gave the singer a series of sedatives and the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him sleep. But prosecutors are still investigating, and no charges have been filed.
AP writers Derrik J. Lang, Anthony McCartney, Sue Manning, Sandy Cohen and Ryan Pearson, and AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.
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