Stars pay their emotional farewells to Sinatra

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The Independent Online
A VERITABLE galaxy of the show business establishment came from across America to say goodbye. They came to pay their respects to a man who sang songs for swinging lovers, but also for the lonely. "We all fell in love, fell out of love, and fell in love again to the sound of his voice," Tony Bennett told more than 400 mourners.

The stars had gathered with the family for an emotional vigil on the eve of Frank Sinatra's funeral. It was a private ceremony at the Good Shepherd Catholic church in Beverly Hills, where the singer's gardenia- covered coffin was gently placed by pall bearers including the comedian Tom Dreesen, who opened for Sinatra for years. "It was just really difficult, emotional," said Dreesen. "It was good moments, moments of love."

Sinatra could not have hoped for a better turnout among friends, colleagues and co-stars. Among those attending were Liza Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner, Shelley Winters, Wayne Newton, Milton Berle, Angie Dickinson, Anthony Quinn and Jack Lemmon, the standard-bearers of a classic age of American entertainment. Sinatra's daughter Nancy and grand-daughter Amanda spoke, as did Bennett. Sinatra's songs were played and a choir sang.

Sinatra's death has produced a great outpouring of emotion in America, despite - and to some extent because of - the fact that he was a far from perfect human being. "He didn't have a perfect life... he did have struggles, and he did have trials and he did have difficulties and he had setbacks just like all people do, and yet he had vision and was able to see beyond that," said Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles.

Sinatra died of a heart attack last Thursday, at the age of 82. He had long fought his illness, but his last words, according to the family, were: "I'm losing." As his friends gathered, Sinatra's widow Barbara was comforted by her son, Robert Marx.

After the vigil came the funeral service. The body was then buried in a family plot at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs. Sinatra's mother, Natalie, and father, Anthony Martin Sinatra, are buried there. Because Sinatra had been awarded the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, his body was escorted by a military honour guard.

The singer left left multi-million dollar homes to his fourth wife and widow, Barbara, and "very substantial assets" to his three children, a lawyer said. Barbara Sinatra will inherit mansions in Beverly Hills and Malibu while Frank Jnr will receive the rights to his father's sheet music. Daughters Nancy and Tina will receive holdingsunder a "living trust" created 15 years ago. His fortune has been estimated at $200m (pounds 126m); the will is made public today.

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