Jackson to be laid to rest with legends of Hollywood

Michael Jackson is due to be laid to rest tonight in a gold-plated coffin alongside the royalty of Hollywood.

More than two months after his sudden, drug-induced death sent millions of his fans into mourning, the King of Pop will be interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Great Mausoleum among such stars as as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and WC Fields.

Among the guests bidding a final farewell will be his close friend Diana Ross, and former boss at Motown, Berry Gordy. Reports have suggested that either Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin - or both - will sing at the graveside.

But the funeral will not end the drama over Jackson's death at the age of 50 or the wider battle for the control of his legacy. Last week, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said they believed Jackson’s death was homicide, and his death certificate has been amended to reflect that, citing “injection by another" as the fatal injury.

Investigators have said a mix of the powerful anesthetic propofol and another sedative killed the singer. The new record lists “acute propofol intoxication" as the main cause of death and “benzodiazepine effect" as another significant contributor.

The certificate does not mention Dr Conrad Murray, who was Jackson’s personal physician and appears to have become the main focus of the police inquiries. Dr Murray told detectives that he gave the singer a series of sedatives and propofol to try to help him sleep.

Today's service at the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, will be in stark contrast to the lavis public memorial in July at LA's Staples Center, where Jackson had been rehearsing for his farewell concerts in London over the summer.

That ceremony was attended by 20,000 fans and beamed live around the world, although, as with the memorial, Jackson fans have been asked to stay away from the funeral and police have warned that surrounding areas and roads will be closed off.

Police helicopters and search dogs will patrol the 300-acre (120-hectare) cemetery, on the lookout for any fans trying to sneak into the service, due to start at 7:00 pm (0200 GMT Friday).

The Great Mausoleum is an elaborate neo-classical buidling inspired by Genoa’s Campo Santo and Jackson will be laid to rest in a crypt that is also homes to the remain of Gable and other screen legends.

Other entertainment giants buried at Forest Lawn include Humphrey Bogart, Nat King Cole, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn and Jimmy Stewart.

Although open to the public, the funeral home is renowned for its strict privacy, and unlike many other Hollywood cemeteries does not provide maps.

“The Great Mausoleum where he is going is like the Holy Grail of gravehunters,” Scott Michaels, who runs a sightseeing tour specialising in the macabre side of Hollywood, told The Los Angeles Times.

“There are cameras all throughout it, and if you are just wandering about, they will find you and kick you out."


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