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At Jackson Memorial, Music and Mourning
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LOS ANGELES — Thousands of fans — selected by lottery from the 1.6 million who applied for seats — came dressed on Tuesday in variations of Michael Jackson’s famed costumes over the years, but mostly in black. They cried, swayed, laughed and gawked in a memorial service that was religious pageant meets awards show.

Broadcast live around the world from the Staples Center, musical titans performed gospel-tinged versions of his songs and their own between testimonials to Mr. Jackson’s talent and achievements on and off the stage.

Magic Johnson cackled over a memory of watching one of the richest entertainers in the world dive into a bucket of fast-food chicken. Brooke Shields, choking with emotion, recalled asking, “What’s up with the glove?"

But one of the loudest roars came when Mr. Jackson’s brother Jermaine — dressed like all the Jackson brothers in dark suits, yellow ties and a single white sequined glove — sang a version of Mr. Jackson’s favorite song, “Smile,” whose music was written by Charlie Chaplin.

In the final minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony, one of Mr. Jackson’s three young children — often seen in public behind masks he made them wear — stepped to the microphone and the audience gasped.

“Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine,” said Paris Michael Jackson, 11, unable to hold back her sobs. “And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”

From the opening with Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz singing “I’ll be There,” a hit for her and the Jackson 5, to the tear-filled remembrances by family members, Mr. Jackson’s various legal troubles and tabloid-filled life were mostly overlooked or only obliquely referred to.

“Being judged, ridiculed, how much pain can one take?” his brother Marlon asked in one of the more direct references to Mr. Jackson’s difficulties, which included standing trial in 2005 on charges of child molesting. It is still unclear whether drug use contributed to his sudden death June 25 at age 50.

Instead, mourners sought to uplift and celebrate, revering his hits and his crossover appeal that they said had influenced and paved the way for other entertainers.

The huge crowds that the police braced for, deploying a few thousand officers at one point outside the downtown arena, never materialized. But it was enough of a spectacle to draw a media blitz befitting a papal visit, with 2,500 credentialed journalists.

Local news helicopters broadcast the police-escorted funeral procession. Inside the darkened hall, an ABC News crew desperately tried to light a correspondent’s face with cellphones for a live shot as the memorial got under way.

The day’s events were carried off with the secrecy of a military mission, with conflicting reports over whether Mr. Jackson’s body would even be present at the arena. Chief William J. Bratton at first called those reports “rumor” only to concede an hour later that the body would be taken to the Staples Center for the memorial.

Once the ceremony was over, however, nobody but perhaps the family and closest friends seemed to know where Mr. Jackson’s body went.

Mr. Jackson’s fans were everywhere, some carrying their favorite photographs of the star, many in tears.

Before the service began, small groups of fans without tickets clustered quietly around street corners close to the center, near lines of police officers. Inside the barricades, people milled around, taking pictures of one another in front of large flat-screen displays showing photographs of the singer.

Sarah Chen, 28, and Michelle Liu, 27, were among them. “We’re lucky enough to come and experience this,” Ms. Liu said. “I want to capture the memento to share with other people who weren’t so lucky.”

But the slightly bizarre melded with the solemn. In a hallway next to a restroom in the arena after the memorial, dozens of fans crowded around a Jackson impersonator, Carlo Riley, 26, dressed as the star in his later years with straightened hair, ghostly makeup and dark glasses, wanting to take a picture of him.

“Just a few more, I need to eat,” Mr. Riley said, but in the end he patiently posed for nearly everybody.

Mr. Riley was among the fans who felt it was important for Mr. Jackson’s coffin — a gleaming gold one topped with roses, which sat at the front of the stage — to be present to feel closer.

As the ceremony took place in Los Angeles, Mr. Jackson’s fans participated elsewhere as well.

When Mr. Jackson’s coffin was projected on a huge screen near the Apollo theater in Harlem, several white-gloved hands shot up from the crowd of hundreds that had gathered there. Nearby vendors hawked T-shirts and other Jackson souvenirs.

It did not matter that they were a continent away.

Elina Magamadova, 26, a waitress who lives in Brooklyn, joined the crowd in Harlem.

“My manager just told me to go home,” Ms. Magamadova said. “I think he fired me. But I’d get fired for Michael Jackson to be here with these people who are here for him.”

Two of Mr. Jackson’s closest friends, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross, both sent regrets, Ms. Taylor via Twitter and Ms. Ross in a statement read at the beginning of the memorial by Smokey Robinson, saying they preferred to grieve privately.

Also absent was Debbie Rowe, the mother of two of Mr. Jackson’s three children, including Paris. Ms. Rowe has not said whether she would seek custody against the wishes of Mr. Jackson, whose will had named his mother as their guardian, or failing that, Ms. Ross.

There were awkward, unexplained moments during the ceremony.

Mr. Robinson appeared on stage and read Ms. Ross’s statement and a tribute from Nelson Mandela and then, for several minutes, the arena fell silent but for the yammering of reporters into cellphones and occasional whispers wondering what was going to happen next.

Finally, accompanied by piano, the Andrae Crouch Choir, which performed on Mr. Jackson’s 1988 hit “Man in the Mirror,” sang “We Are Going to See the King,!” one of several gospel or gospel-like numbers in a program that producers said Jackson family members, lead by the matriarch, Katherine, had largely designed.

Other performers included Stevie Wonder, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer, Lionel Ritchie, and Shaheen Jafargholi, 12, a finalist from the “Britain’s Got Talent” show, the inspiration for “American Idol.”

Although Mr. Jackson’s ever-lightening skin over the years had gotten much attention, his crossover appeal as one of the earliest artists on MTV were hailed as achievements in civil rights.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, in a rousing sermon, said Mr. Jackson had created a “comfort level” that opened the way for the achievements of others, including “a person of color to be president of the United States.”

But somber moments abounded, including the closing.

As “Man in the Mirror” played overhead in the dimmed arena, family members and friends escorted the coffin out.

Reporting was contributed by Brooks Barnes, Rebecca Cathcart and Ana Facio Contreras from Los Angeles, and Dominick Tao from New York.

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