Heath Ledger's final farewell ends in sunset swim

Society Materials 10 February 2008 08:20 (UTC +04:00)

( AFP )- Mourners at Hollywood star Heath Ledger's funeral in Perth celebrated the acclaimed actor's life by stripping off and diving into the surf at his favourite beach, reports said Sunday.

Ledger's family held a two-hour service in his hometown of Perth on Saturday attended by more than 500 mourners including the young actor's former fiancee Michelle Williams and Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett.

After a private funeral for 10 family members only, mourners gathered at a restaurant overlooking Perth's Cottesloe beach, one of Ledger's favourite spots, for a sunset wake.

Scores of family and friends threw off some of their clothes and ran into the water, where they hugged and cheered to celebrate Ledger's life, the reports said.

Heath's father Kim Ledger watched from the balcony of the restaurant as mourners whooped and hollered as they ran into the water en masse, The Sunday Telegraph said.

Williams, who appeared distraught as she arrived at the wake on the arm of the actor's sister Kate, was photographed smiling as she stood in the shallows of the beach, her delicate cream dress soaking wet.

Ledger, who gained international stardom with his Oscar-nominated performance as a gay cowboy in " Brokeback Mountain" died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on January 22.

The death of the rising star at just 28 shocked Hollywood and a memorial in Los Angeles was attended by the Tinseltown's A-list including Tom Cruise and wife Kate Holmes, Lindsay Lohan and John Hartnett.

Blanchett delivered one of the eulogies at the Perth service which gathered Australian film heavyweights together to mourn the loss of one of the local industry's brightest stars.

The program given to mourners included a photo of a smiling Ledger, sitting on a New York sidewalk wearing a woolen beanie, and was upbeat about his "beautiful life".

"This room is filled with the love we all felt for a great friend who will be missed by all of us," it said.

"We want to thank those of you who took care of him and participated in his beautiful life," The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Before the ceremony Kim Ledger had appealed for the massive media pack following the family to respect the privacy of grieving relatives.

"It's a pretty sad time and we are finding it difficult to cope by ourselves," he told reporters.

Ledger's two-year-old daughter with Williams, Matilda, did not attend the funeral but a photo montage of her with her father was shown to mourners as a Ben Harper song written for the little girl was played.