Actress Elizabeth Taylor laid to rest

Five black stretch limousines carrying the family of Elizabeth Taylor arrived for her private funeral service this morning at a California cemetery famous for being the final resting place of Hollywood celebrities, including her good friend Michael Jackson.

Inside the sprawling Forest Lawn Cemetery, barricades were erected around the location of the funeral, where about four dozen family members were expected to mourn the screen legend. No procession was planned.

Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz said cemetery officials called to request police assistance for the afternoon service.

Taylor died early Wednesday of congestive heart failure while surrounded by her four children at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, where she had been hospitalised for about six weeks.

Taylor, who was infamously married eight times to seven husbands, converted to Judaism before her 1959 wedding to Eddie Fisher. Jewish customs call for a burial within 48 hours of death.

Besides Jackson, the cemetery is the final resting place for such stars as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, W.C. Fields, Red Skelton, Gracie Allen, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole.

Taylor, the star of such films as "Btterfield 8," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Cleopatra," won three Academy Awards, including a special one for her humanitarian work.

She was an ardent and early supporter of Aids research, when HIV was new to the industry and beyond.

She underwent at least 20 major operations during her life and nearly died from a bout with pneumonia in 1990. In 1994 and 1995, she had both hip joints replaced, and in February 1997, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumour. In 1983, she acknowledged a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and pain killers, and was treated for alcohol and drug abuse at the Betty Ford Clinic in California.

Survivors include Taylor's daughters Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey, sons Christopher and Michael Wilding, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

- AP

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