Two Months After Death, Michael Jackson Laid to Rest

Singer's children place crown on King of Pop's coffin

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:54 PM PDT
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The Jackson Family, Janet Jackson, Randy Jackson, Jackie Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson and Marlon Jackson attend Michael Jackson's funeral service held at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

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FAA flight restrictions, police helicopters, security guards on patrol, celebrity guests and 144 ricotta doughnuts -- they were all part of a private ceremony Thursday for Michael Jackson. The only thing missing was his family, who arrived late.

The 50-year-old King of Pop was put to rest Thursday night in an ornate mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in a private ceremony restricted to family and invited guests. Jackson's three children laid a crown on the King of Pop's coffin. 

The family had arrived in a motorcade of 31 cars under police escort from Encino to Forest Lawn more than an hour late, keeping 77-year-old Elizabeth Taylor and about 200 other mourners waiting outside in the 90 degree heat. At the end of the motorcade a hearse carried Jackson's body in a $30,000 gold casket.

The interment came more than two months after Jackson died from an overdose of a powerful sedative. He was found not breathing at his rented Holmby Hills estate and was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. At the time, he was in Los Angeles preparing for a series of 50 sold-out concerts in London.

Jackson was interred at Holly Terrace in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Glendale. The cemetery is the final resting place of such Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Mary Pickford, Walt Disney, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr.

The 8:30 p.m. funeral service was strictly private and news footage was restricted to helicopters as it began. Parents Joe and Katherine Jackson and the singer's children, 12-year-old Prince Michael, 10-year-old Paris Michael and 7-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, were in the front rows for the service. Barry Bonds and Macaulay Culkin were among the celebrity mourners.

During the service, Jackson’s three children also laid notes that read: “Daddy, we love you, we miss you,” People reported.

Gladys Knight performed a gospel song that reportedly moved mourners to tears. Jackson’s mother, overcome with grief, appeared weary and had to be helped to her car after the service, according to The Associated Press.

After the service Jackson’s family released a statement to: "once again thank all of Michael Jackson’s fans around the world for their generous outpouring of support during this terribly difficult time. Their expressions of love for Michael and his music have sustained the Jackson Family."

The restricted service was in sharp contrast to the spectacular July 7 memorial tribute at Staples Center in downtown LA. That star-studded mega-event was broadcast around the world.

Glendale police and Forest Lawn officials took extra measures to ensure the service remained private.

Streets around the cemetery entrance were restricted or closed. One print photographer and one video photographer were allowed to shoot pool photos for the media, but all other cameras were banned from the cemetery.

Flight restrictions over the cemetery were approved by the FAA to keep news media helicopters at bay.

All the costs for Jackson's funeral service will be covered by the family -- specifically by the singer's own estate.

Attorneys for Jackson's mother, Katherine, and the administrators of the singer's estate were in court Wednesday looking for authorization to use funds from the estate to pay for the funeral. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff decided to leave the decision up to the estate's administrators, and they expressed no objection.

None of the attorneys at the hearing would specify the anticipated costs.

The expense of the public memorial tribute at Staples Center led to weeks of debate at Los Angeles City Hall, where some elected officials called for the Jackson family or Staples Center owner AEG to pick up the multimillion-dollar tab for police and other city services required for the event.

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa bristled at the suggestion, and said the city would pay those costs, despite a massive budget deficit.

The criminal investigation into Jackson's death, meanwhile, is continuing. The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled the death a homicide caused by lethal levels of the powerful sedative propofol, which is generally used only in surgical settings. Jackson had apparently been using the drug to combat insomnia.

Investigators have been focusing their homicide investigation on Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is reported to have told police that he administered the medication on an almost-daily basis in the weeks leading up to the singer's death.

According to court papers, Murray told investigators he was trying to wean Jackson off the medication, fearing that he was developing an addiction.

But on the morning of his death, Murray allegedly said, he gave Jackson a small dose of propofol after a series of other medications failed to put the singer to sleep -- and after Jackson repeatedly demanded the drug.

Just before 10 p.m. on Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted that “Michael Jackson had been put to rest.”
 

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