Michael Jackson praised in emotional memorial VIDEOS
Jul 8, 2009, 2:10 GMT
Michael Jackson\'s daughter Paris Katherine (R) holds the hand of her little brother Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket) during the public memorial service for Michael Jackson held at Staples Center on 07 July 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Jackson, 50, the iconic pop star, died at UCLA Medical Center after going into cardiac arrest at his rented home on June 25 in Los Angeles, California. EPA/GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Los Angeles - In one of the biggest-ever celebrity send- offs, Michael Jackson's family, friends and fans held a moving memorial service Tuesday for the late King of Pop, as millions of people around the world watched on television and the internet.
The memorial service opened with soul great Smokey Robinson reading letters of condolence from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela.
Then Jackson's flower-laden casket was wheeled in, accompanied by pallbearers each wearing a single, sequined glove - Michael's most memorable fashion statement - as a gospel choir sang.
It is still unclear when and where Jackson will be buried. After the service, the Jackson family held a reception at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for some 800 guests.
'In his beautiful and very human heart, MJ wanted nothing more than to give to the world and perhaps be loved back in return,' Jackson family pastor Lucious Smith said. 'Through his words, his music and his countless good deeds, Michael did so much to try to heal our world.'
Mariah Carey then sang one of Jackson's earliest hits, I'll Be There.
Other performers included Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson and John Mayer. The highlight of the service came when dozens of performers took to the stage for a rendition of Jackson's 1984 charity hit, We Are The World, and his follow-up song, Heal The World.
Jackson's daughter Paris, 11, in her first known public statement, paid tribute to her father, breaking down in tears as her aunt Janet Jackson tried to comfort her: 'I just want to say that ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could imagine, and I wanted to say that I love him very much.'
Tributes were paid by Berry Gordy, the founder of legendary record label Motown, African-American activist Reverend Al Sharpton, basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, the children of civil rights leader Martin Luther King and actress Brooke Shields.
The public ceremony followed a private memorial service at a Hollywood Hills cemetery, after which Jackson's casket was loaded into a hearse for the procession to the Staples Centre, where celebrities and fans entered the arena on a wide black carpet.
There were three notable absences at the services: Jackson's old friend, Dame Elizabeth Taylor said, 'I love him too much to share my grief with millions of others.'
Diana Ross said she preferred to mark his death with silence, while his former wife, Debbie Rowe, who may launch a legal battle for custody of the two children she had with Jackson, said her attendance 'would be an unnecessary distraction to an event that should focus exclusively on Michael's legacy.'
Thousands of police were deployed in downtown Los Angeles prior to the service as the world's entertainment capital braced for the memorial of one of the greatest entertainers in history.
Police said the operation exceeded all past events in the city's history, including the 1984 Olympics, the Los Angeles Times reported. Officials had feared that as many as 700,000 fans would gather around the downtown arena and appealed to them to stay home.
Thousands of fans ignored that appeal and crowded behind the barricades erected around much of the area surrounding the Staples Centre. But there were no reports of trouble as only an estimated 50,000 fans turned up.
More than 1.6 million people applied for the 17,500 tickets available through the online lottery.
In Santiago de Chile, the presidential guard honoured Jackson on Tuesday as its military brass band played We are the World instead of typical martial music for the daily changing of the guard.
According to social media website Mashable, during the service, tweets related to Jackson occupied all the top 10 slots on the list of most popular Twitter topics. On Facebook, the Michael Jackson memorial page grew to 7 million members, possibly making it one of the largest single followings of any public figure on the web.
Jackson died on June 25 at age 50 from a cardiac arrest. A police investigation into his death is focused on the possible abuse by Jackson of prescription drugs and hospital sedatives.