Whitney Houston funeral: Invite-only, with no public memorial
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Whitney Houston’s funeral will be held Saturday in New Jersey, but the singer will not be mourned at a large public memorial, it was revealed Tuesday.
Houston’s body arrived at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark under heavy police escort on Monday, the Associated Press reported. About 40 fans who were gathered nearby to catch a glimpse of the hearse sang and applauded, the New Jersey Star-Ledger said, and mother Cissy Houston was photographed arriving by car at the same time.
Entry to the funeral service -- to be held at noon Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark -- will be by invitation only, the funeral home’s owner, Carolyn Whigham, told the Star-Ledger, with no wake or public viewing at the Prudential Center, as had been previously reported.
It was the family that put the kibosh on a public memorial, a rep for Newark Mayor Cory Booker told TMZ. ‘In compliance with the family’s wishes the city is not moving forward with any public ceremony,’ the rep said.
‘The Bodyguard’ star honed her singing skills in the gospel choir at New Hope as a child.
‘The family has made it very clear there is going to be a strong musical celebration of her life,’ with star voices expected but as yet unnamed, Pastor Joe Carter told the New York Daily News.
Houston died Saturday afternoon in Beverly Hills, hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards function. Though she was found submerged in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton, the investigation into her death has turned to focus on what prescription drugs the singer had been taking, and how much. An official cause of death is on hold pending results of toxicology tests.
Authorities collected several bottles of drugs from the suite, law enforcement sources told L.A. Now, but the sources said the amounts of drugs left it unclear whether the medications had been a factor in the singer’s death. Various media outlets have reported bottles of Xanax, Valium, Lorazepam and other medications were found.
‘No matter what medication they may be taking, until we do a toxicology test and see the levels, we are not going to speculate,’ said Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. The coroner had not ruled out death from natural causes.
— Christie D'Zurilla
Photos, from top: A fan awaits the arrival of Whitney Houston’s body near the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., on Monday night; the hearse carrying Houston’s body arrives at the funeral home. Credits: D Dipasupil / Getty Images; Rich Schulz / Associated Press