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Pallbearers bring out Sinatra's casket

Hollywood bids Sinatra last farewell

Web posted on: Wednesday, May 20, 1998 5:46:28 PM EDT

BEVERLY HILLS, California (CNN) -- Frank Sinatra fans congregated outside Beverly Hills' only Catholic church Wednesday, where Sinatra's family and a who's who of the entertainment world gathered and bid the entertainer a final farewell in a lengthy Mass.

Also: Sinatra funeral program

Celebrities began to arrive about an hour before the noon (3 p.m. EDT) funeral, shielded from onlookers by a third of the Beverly Hills police force. Don Rickles, Diahann Carroll and Ed McMahon were among the early arrivers from a roster of more than 400 friends invited to the funeral.

Sinatra died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 82 years old.

Many of those in attendance were old-school entertainers like Peck, Tony Bennett, Angie Dickinson and Joey Bishop, the only surviving member of the Rat Pack. But younger stars including Tony Danza and Tom Selleck also attended the funeral.

Among the celebrities attending the funeral: Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Debbie Reynolds, Wayne Newton, and Tony Bennett

Meanwhile, many members of the public were unwilling to grieve behind closed doors. Some of Sinatra's devoted fans made the pilgrimage to Sinatra's Beverly Hills home, leaving behind cards and flowers.

The serene cemetery where Sinatra will be intered with other members of his family

Invitation-only service

A glossy white ticket with "Francis Albert Sinatra Funeral Mass" printed in purple was required to enter Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church, which was transformed into a forest of white flowers. Sinatra's casket was blanketed with gardenias.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, celebrated the Mass, a liturgy running more than two hours, which featured uplifting music and remembrances by Frank Sinatra Jr., Gregory Peck and others. An outline of music for the liturgy began with a song sung to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

A pilot flying over the service delivered his own tribute in the form of a heart written in the sky

Private interment

Sinatra's widow, Barbara, and a family contingent were to accompany Sinatra's casket later to the Palm Springs area, where he was to be interred in burial vault in a family-only private service.

The site at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City is where his mother, Natalie "Dolly" Sinatra, and father, Anthony Martin Sinatra, are interred. The cemetery is also near Frank Sinatra Drive and the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center for abused children.

The casket will be escorted to the grave by a military honor guard because Sinatra received the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, according to the Sinatra family Web site.

The Web site, which is run by his children, said Sinatra fought for his life and his final words were: "I'm losing."

Over 30,000 white flowers decorated the church at the vigil Tuesday night

Tuesday vigil

Sinatra's life was also celebrated at an emotional vigil at the church Tuesday night.

A medley of Sinatra songs was played, a choir sang, and there were reminiscences by Sinatra's daughter Nancy and granddaughter Amanda. Tony Bennett also spoke.

"Nancy spoke very clearly and strongly about her father," said Frank Brownstead, 55, music director for the Cardinal's Office of Worship. "She read a letter that Frank Sinatra had written her in the '70s in the middle of all the family's troubles. The message was keep the faith."

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