The King of Pop Is Finally Laid to Rest

UPDATED 09/04/2009 at 07:25 AM EDT Originally published 09/03/2009 at 10:25 PM EDT



They came to bury a superstar: Lisa Marie Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Macaulay Culkin, Chris Tucker and Mila Kunis arrived at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., on Thursday for the funeral for Michael Jackson.

On a hot Southern California night, the skies still smoky from mountain brush fires, the famous friends joined Jackson’s family, including his parents, brothers and sisters and three children, to say goodbye.

Jackson’s backup dancers served as ushers. His brothers, wearing black armbands and a sequined glove on one hand, carried his flower-covered casket out of the hearse and placed it before about 200 mourners on a stage decorated with white lilies and white roses – part of a private, intimate gathering in contrast to the thousands who attended Jackson’s internationally telecast memorial service at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

A Crown for a King

Jackson’s three children then placed a crown on their father’s coffin to mark his status as the King of Pop.

After a prayer by Pastor Lucius Smith and a gospel number sung by Gladys Knight, Clifton Davis performed the Jackson 5 song he wrote, “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Jackson’s father Joseph and the Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the mourners, as did close friends and family.

After the ceremony, the brothers carried the casket to the Grand Mausoleum, where at 9:43 p.m. Jackson entered his final resting place.

Afterwards, his family issued 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."

Famous Neighbors

The entertainer, who died June 25 at age 50, is interred near Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow and Red Skelton. The building is patterned on 13th-century Italian architecture, with the walls and floors of each crypt constructed of reinforced concrete.

The Jackson family provided live video images of the ceremony up to the removal of the casket from the hearse. After that, television stations carried images from news helicopters hovering over a 3,000-foot minimum altitude imposed by authorities during the funeral.

Jackson’s estate will pay for the small but expensive funeral, which took place under heavy security. "The expenses will be extraordinary, but Michael Jackson was extraordinary," Jeryll Cohen, an attorney for the singer's estate, said Wednesday at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court dealing with the funeral costs.

Jackson's brother Marlon has said that Michael's three children have each written letters to their father that will lie with him alongside one of his signature white gloves. The notes by Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Blanket, 7, read: "Daddy, we love you, we miss you.’

Funeral Tweets

Sharpton sent Twitter messages from the funeral, saying that before the family arrived he was speaking with Thomas Messereau, who successfully defended Jackson against child molestation charges.

"What MJ went through was so unfair, yet he succeeded," Sharpton Tweeted. "In the end, he was the biggest artist ever. He faced the headwinds but he made it."

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