Family bids farewell to Ledger in hometown

Sat Feb 9, 2008 11:59pm EST
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By Patrick Riviere

PERTH (Reuters) - Heath Ledger was remembered at a private memorial service in his Australian home town on Saturday, with fellow actor Cate Blanchett giving a eulogy and Ledger's father thanking his son's fans for their support.

Ledger, 28, best known for his role as a conflicted gay cowboy in the 2005 movie "Brokeback Mountain," died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in his New York apartment on Jan 22.

His death shocked film fans and actors around the world and prompted warnings about mixing prescription drugs, particularly pain killers, tranquillizers and sleeping pills.

Among the mourners at Saturday's memorial service, in Perth, were Ledger's former partner and Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams, who arrived with Ledger's sister Kate but without the couple's two-year-old daughter Matilda.

Also among the hundreds of mourners at the service, at a private girls school in the Western Australian city, was model Gemma Ward, with whom Ledger had been reportedly linked, as well as Australian actors Blanchett, Bryan Brown and Joel Edgerton.

Ledger's father, Kim Ledger, had earlier asked the media to allow the family to grieve in private, but said cameras would be allowed to photograph mourners as they arrived for the memorial service.

"It's a pretty sad time and we are finding it difficult to cope by ourselves, let alone cope with everybody around the world," Kim Ledger told reporters outside the family home earlier on Saturday.

"Having said that, we do really appreciate the outpouring and the emotional support from all over the world."   Continued...

<p>Australian actress Cate Blanchett arrives at the Penrhos College Private School Grounds to attend a memorial service for Heath Ledger in Perth February 9, 2008. REUTERS/Patrick Riviere</p>