After an hour-and-a-half delay, Michael Jackson’s funeral got under way around 8:30 p.m. PT on Thursday (September 3) at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California.
The Jackson family and close friends, who departed their Encino compound in a police-escorted caravan around 7:30 p.m. PT, arrived at Forest Lawn at about 8:10. Solo piano renditions of Michael’s songs began to play as the family — including Michael’s three children, his sisters Janet and La Toya, brothers Jermaine and Tito, mother Katherine and father Joe — took their seats.
Jackson’s body was driven into Forest Lawn in a hearse shortly before 8:30 p.m. and arrived at the Great Mausoleum burial site minutes later. As soon as the hearse pulled up, the cemetery-provided camera feeds shut off, ending the public’s up-close, audio-assisted view of the proceedings. Helicopter shots continued to provide somewhat grainy footage of the ceremony.
Celebrities in attendance included Macaulay Culkin, Mila Kunis, Stevie Wonder, ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, Corey Feldman, Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Bonds, Chris Tucker, Gladys Knight and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
On either side of a flower-decorated dais set up in front of the approximately 200 seats stood two pictures of Jackson in a bright yellow shirt and thick gold belt. Helicopter cameras hovering overhead showed that Jackson’s family placed his flower-covered casket in front of the audience. Without audio, however, it was impossible to discern exactly what was taking place at the service. But at least one attendee used the power of social networking to communicate details from Forest Lawn.
“I just spoke at the conclusion of tributes,” Sharpton wrote on his Twitter account during the ceremony. “Gladys Knight sang her heart out. Now we prepare to lay him to rest.”
CNN reported that Knight sang the Lord’s Prayer, Presley was extremely emotional when the casket was brought in from the hearse, and Taylor’s wheelchair had to be lifted up a series of steps after the various tributes when attendees entered the mausoleum.
The ceremony lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and wrapped up at approximately 9:45. “Michael Jackson has been laid to rest,” Sharpton tweeted around this time.