Family and friends of actor Heath Ledger bade farewell at a private service in his Australian home town of Perth on Saturday, with the media kept away and Ledger’s father appealing for mourners to be allowed to grieve in peace.
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 January 22.
His death shocked film fans and actors around the world and prompted warnings about mixing prescription drugs, particularly pain killers, tranquillisers 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 Cate Blanchett, Bryan Brown and Joel Edgerton.
Williams (27) and Ledger’s father, Kim Ledger, had both pleaded to be allowed to grieve in private.
A large media pack had camped outside the Ledger family home, prompting Kim Ledger on Saturday to tell reporters the service would be followed by a ”very, very private” funeral with only 10 family members to attend.
”It’s a pretty sad time and we are finding it difficult to cope by ourselves,” he said.
He said the family appreciated the massive outpouring of grief and support from the public following Ledger’s death.
Local media said Ledger would be buried in a family plot, next to his grandparents, in a Perth cemetery.
Ledger starred in 18 movies in Australia and Hollywood, and received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a gay cowboy opposite co-star Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain. — Reuters