Hundreds Mourn Heath Ledger in Australia
Michelle Williams and Cate Blanchett attend a memorial as the Ledger family pays tribute with music and struggles to cope
“It’s a pretty sad time. We’re finding it difficult to cope,” Ledger’s father Kim said Saturday morning, local time, before heading to the memorial at Penrhos College, a boarding school in the Perth suburb of Como.
Kim Ledger said the family was also planning an intimate funeral.
“The funeral will be very, very private,” he said. “There will only be 10 people there, which is my immediate family and nobody else.”
At the memorial, Williams and Heath’s family arrived in a fleet of black BMWs. Wearing sunglasses and appearing grief-stricken, Williams held the hand of Ledger’s sister Kate as they walked into the school about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, local time. Ledger’s parents arrived afterward – first mother Sally Ledger Bell, with her husband Roger Bell, then father Kim Ledger and his wife Ines.
Matilda, Heath’s 2-year-old daughter with Williams, was not seen among the mourners.
At least 300 people attended the service, including model and close friend to Heath – Gemma Ward – Australian actors Blanchett and Bryan Brown and Australian Rules football stars Ben Cousins and David Wirrpanda, both friends of Heath’s.
Attendees of the two-hour tribute received a memorial program featuring a photograph of Ledger. At the start of the ceremony, a select group of songs were played, including These Days by Australian band Powderfinger; Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd; Superstition by Stevie Wonder; The Times They Are A-Changin by Bob Dylan, Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes, and a song by The Shins.
“It was very beautiful,” Vivian Polton, a guest, told PEOPLE.
One of the first speakers was sister Kate Ledger, who addressed the attendants with a montage set to the tune of the Beatles Here Comes The Sun playing in the background.
She spoke beautifully, said Barbara Scott, Australia’s Liberal Party minister of the arts. “It was a wonderful tribute, a great farewell to a wonderful West Australian, an outstanding guy with great talent.”
The service also included video montages, and one, featuring Matilda, included very moving little bits, Scott said. The Matilda video presentation was accompanied by musician Ben Harper s Happily Everafter In Your Eyes, which Harper had written just for her. (Harper and Ledger had teamed up last year to start their own record label called Masses Music Co.)
Afterward, footage from Ledger s film work was shown. Oscar winner Blanchett spoke to the audience afterward; Scott said Blanchett was “wonderful.”
A friend montage followed with its soundtrack being 1979 (the year Ledger was born) by the Smashing Pumpkins. A family montage was set to Old Man by Neil Young. Of these montages, Scott said, they were very tastefully done,” adding of the overall tone of the service, It was a wonderful memorial. Typically so soon after the sudden death of a young person, there were many people who were very emotionally moved as you d expect.”
As for Kate and Kim Ledger, Scott said, “They were very brave. They all seemed to be holding up pretty well.”