July 10, 2009

Cousin: Jacko viewing was open casket

Michael Jackson's cousin said the late U.S. pop star's casket was open during a private family viewing near Los Angeles this week.

Jackson died of cardiac arrest June 25 after a suspected prescription drug overdose. He was 50.

A private viewing was held Monday night and a family funeral took place early Tuesday morning before a televised, star-studded public memorial later in the day.

He looked like himself. He looked like he just was laying there sleeping, Jackson's cousin, David Fossett, told People.com about Monday night's open-casket viewing. He looked peaceful.

Fossett said Jackson's parents, Joe and Katherine, were not among the close family members who attended the viewing at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, Calif.

The music icon's loved ones gathered around his coffin, talked to each other and cried, then went back to the Jackson family home in Encino, he said.

It was a somber mood, Fossett added. Even though he's this big entertainer, he's still our family.

He said about 70 relatives, including the singer's three children, went Tuesday morning to Forest Lawn where Jackson's cousin Wendell Hawkins presided over a Jehovah's Witness service.