Memorial service takes place for Heath Ledger

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Heath Ledger at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006.
Image: Howie Berlin.

A memorial service has taken place for Australian actor Heath Ledger, who died January 22 in New York. Hollywood celebrities and many other loyal fans bid farewell to the well known actor. His death has been deemed accidental by the New York City Medical Examiner and was attributed to a toxic mixture of prescription drugs and pain killers. The star died in his Manhattan apartment last month.

The service was held at Penrhos College in Perth, Australia and was attended by over 100 people, although the actual funeral was only attended by Ledger's close family. Before the funeral, Heath's father, Kim Ledger, said that "the funeral will be very, very private and there will only be 10 people there, immediate family and nobody else."

In addition to family, the memorial service was attended by actors and actresses who have worked with Ledger, including Cate Blanchett who starred with Ledger in the Bob Dylan bio-flick, I'm Not There. Blanchett spoke of the times she shared with Ledger in New York and Los Angeles. The Other speakers included his parents, sister and Neil Armfield, a director of Ledger's last Australian film, Candy.

An emotional Williams, was wearing dark glasses and a white dress with black trim, she was not accompanied by her daughter Matilda. Williams walked in clutching the arm of Ledger's older sister, Kate.

Williams issued a statement following Ledger's death saying, "My heart is broken. I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day."

The Ledger family asked the media not to visit the funeral because they claim they will find it easier to cope without the media present. Ledger's father said, "It's a pretty sad time. We're finding it difficult to cope by ourselves, let alone cope with everybody around the world." He continued, however, by saying that the family does, "really appreciate the outpouring and the emotional support from all over the globe."

Ledger starred in the 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain which earned him Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor. It was on the set of Brokeback Mountain where he met Michelle Williams and their relationship began. He additionally starred in the 2000 movie The Patriot with Mel Gibson.