GLENDALE, California (Reuters) - Michael Jackson was buried on Thursday, more than two months after he died of a drug overdose, marking the last stop for a superstar who spent most of his 50 years in the public gaze.
The singer, whose enormous success with such albums as “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” was overshadowed in later years by his extravagant lifestyle and child molestation allegations, died on June 25 with a mix of prescription medications in his body.
The Los Angeles coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide. Police are investigating several doctors and have said they will seek criminal charges, but so far none has been filed.
Security was very tight at the private evening funeral at the historic Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, near Los Angeles.
Fans and reporters were kept away from the 200 guests, including actress Elizabeth Taylor, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, musician Quincy Jones and Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley.
The Jackson family entourage was the last to arrive, showing up more than an hour later than scheduled in a convoy of 30 limousines, some members waving to a cheering crowd of more than 400 people.
A few minutes later, a hearse drove through the cemetery accompanied by four police officers on motorcycles.
The outdoor ceremony lasted for about an hour before the pop star was interred in a crypt in the vast mock-Renaissance Grand Mausoleum, a family spokesman said.
The pallbearers were Jackson’s five brothers — Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy — who performed similar honors at a public memorial service in July.
The ceremony began with Jackson’s three children placing a crown on their father’s coffin, the spokesman said.
Speakers included Jackson’s father Joseph, whom the singer often accused of abusing him as a child, and civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Others guests included actors Corey Feldman, Chris Tucker, Macaulay Culkin and his girlfriend Mila Kunis, Thomas Mesereau, the attorney who successfully defended Jackson in his 2005 child molestation trial, and Kenny Ortega, the choreographer on Jackson’s planned comeback tour.
Officials have said a cocktail of medications, including the powerful anesthetic propofol and sedative lorazepam were the primary causes of Jackson’s death.
While several doctors who treated Jackson have been investigated, police have focused on his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was at his bedside when he suffered a heart attack in a rented Los Angeles mansion.
Murray was hired by concert promoter AEG Live in the weeks before Jackson’s death to watch over him as he rehearsed for a series of comeback concerts in London, scheduled to start in July. Those concerts were to have helped the singer pay off debts and shore up his finances.
Jackson will be in stellar company at Forest Lawn, a stately 290-acre (117-hectare) property that is the final resting place of such Hollywood icons as Walt Disney, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Nat “King” Cole and Jimmy Stewart.
The cemetery will reopen to the public on Friday, with private security for Jackson’s crypt, said a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department.
The city went to unusual lengths to make sure the funeral went off without a hitch.
Police helicopters with infrared technology started buzzing the cemetery on Wednesday night to make sure no one slipped in. Police dogs, plainclothes officers and private security guards also patrolled the area.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by John O'Callaghan