Published February 08, 2008
Heath Ledger's family will hold an oceanside wake for the star on Saturday at his favorite West Australian beach, according to local reports.
The 28-year-old actor, who was found dead late last month in his New York apartment, will then be laid to rest in a private ceremony, attended by family and friends, including former girlfriend Michelle Williams, the couple's 2-year-old daughter Matilda, friend Jake Gyllenhaal and ex-girlfriend and model Gemma Ward, according to Australia's News Ltd. newspapers.
The details of the memorial ceremony and the funeral are being kept secret, but the papers are reporting that the Ledgers will hold a wake Saturday at a Colonial-style waterfront restaurant at Cottesloe Beach, a resort village south of Perth — a favorite with the former Hollywood star and where he is reported to have learned how to surf.
News of the Australian-born actor's hometown services come only days after the New York medical examiner announced he died from the effects of taking six types of painkillers and sedatives.
Ledger's father, Kim Ledger, said the "Brokeback Mountain" star's death by accidental overdose should serve as a warning to others not to mix prescription drugs, calling his son's untimely death an enduring agony.
He said in a statement released Wednesday that the family was humbled to be "among millions of people worldwide who may have suffered the tragic loss of a child."
"Few can understand the hollow, wrenching, and enduring agony parents silently suffer when a child predeceases them," he said.
Kim Ledger also said the toxicology results should "put an end to speculation" about the cause of death.
"While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy," he said. "Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."
Kim Ledger's statement asked that the family be allowed to grieve without media intrusion.
Williams, 27, and Ledger became a couple during the filming of "Brokeback Mountain" in which they played a husband and wife. Ledger was nominated for an Oscar. They moved to New York and Matilda was born in October 2005.
"To most of the world Heath was an actor of immeasurable talent and promise," the actor's father said. "To those who knew him personally, Heath was a consummate artist whose passions also included photography, music, chess and directing.
"We knew Heath as a loving father, as our devoted son, and as a loyal and generous brother and friend," the statement said.
The family was profoundly touched and eternally grateful for the expressions of support that have come from all over the world, he said.
Alan Carpenter, the premier of Western Australia state, urged the news media to heed the family's appeals for privacy.
"One of the great things that Heath Ledger was able to reflect upon was that when he came back to Western Australia it was a haven where he could just walk around like a normal citizen," he said.