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Entertainment News
Published: Sep 4, 2009
Michael Jackson Mausoleum, Funeral Starts Near Los Angeles
by Dean Goodman

Michael Jackson's funeral began more than an hour behind schedule near Los Angeles on Thursday night, 70 days after the pop star died of a drug overdose.

Jackson's family and friends drove to Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, in a procession of more than 30 limousines and cars, some waving to a crowd of hundreds of fans and onlookers.

A few minutes later, a hearse arrived, accompanied by four police officers on motorcycles.

The ceremony, which was supposed to begin at 7 p.m. PDT (0200 GMT on Friday), was expected to run for about an hour, said a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department.

A tight security operation kept fans, reporters and even aircraft well away from the cemetery, where Jackson will be buried in the stellar company of such Hollywood icons as Walt Disney and Humphrey Bogart.

Police helicopters with infrared technology started buzzing the 290-acre (117-hectare) cemetery on Wednesday night to make sure no one slipped in. Police dogs, plainclothes officers and private security guards also patrolled the area.

Details of the funeral were shrouded in mystery, although Jackson will be buried in a crypt in the Grand Mausoleum, a vast, mock-Renaissance building on the stately property.

His body has been kept at the cemetery since his public memorial service at a basketball arena in downtown Los Angeles on July 6.

Jackson died of a drug overdose on June 25, at age 50, in what the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled last week was a homicide.

The Jackson estate will reimburse the Glendale Police Department for its expenses, which the agency has estimated will be up to $150,000. The city of Los Angeles absorbed the estimated $1.4 million cost of the memorial service.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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