| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 7 Family and close friends bid
their final farewells on Friday at a private funeral for actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose tragic death of an apparent
overdose at the age of 46 robbed the entertainment world of one
of its finest talents.
Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams,
Michelle Williams and Ethan Hawke were among the guests entering
the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Manhattan's Upper East Side
to mourn the death of the Oscar-winning actor who closely
guarded his privacy.
Many of the actors attending the noon service had starred in
films or plays with Hoffman. Williams lost her former partner,
actor Heath Ledger, to an accidental drug overdose in 2008.
Scores of photographers, camera crews and reporters stood on
piles of snow in frigid temperatures across from the large
church on Park Avenue while fans were kept behind a barricade.
"I saw him in 'Long Day's Journey Into Night' and I thought
he showed real genius. I am here paying my respects," said Mary
Catherine Wright, who lives nearby, and stood bundled up with
tears in her eyes.
"He is remembered by most people for his movie roles, but I
think his theater performances were pretty remarkable," she
Hoffman, whose body was discovered on Sunday in his
Greenwich Village apartment, is survived by his long-term
partner, Mimi O'Donnell, and their three young children, Cooper,
Tallulah and Willa.
A memorial service is planned for later this month.
PHENOMENAL CHARACTER ACTOR
Although Hoffman was found with a syringe in his arm, the
cause of his death was still undetermined on Friday as New York
City's Chief Medical Examiner awaited the results of further
Four people were charged with drug offenses, possibly
connected to the substances found at the actor's home.
Hoffman, a best actor Oscar winner for his role in the 2005
biographical film "Capote," won accolades for his versatility on
the stage and screen.
"He was an old shoe of a guy who could just transform
himself," said New York stage actress Noelle McGrath, adding
that he was one of the most phenomenal character actors ever.
From his Tony-nominated role as Willy Loman in Arthur
Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Death of a Salesman" to
complex characters in such films as "Happiness," in which he
played an obscene phone caller, and "Before the Devil Knows
You're Dead," Hoffman transfixed audiences with his talent.
He also earned Tony award nominations for "Long Day's
Journey Into Night" and "True West."
On the big screen the actor appeared in blockbusters such as
"The Hunger Games" series and also garnered best supporting
actor Oscar nominations for "The Master," "Doubt" and "Charlie
Although he talked openly about his past struggles with
substance abuse, Hoffman's untimely death was a shock and came
just as police spoke of more heroin hitting the streets of New
"Unfortunately, our city, like America, has got a
continuing, constantly changing narcotics problem," New York
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said after a crime commission
meeting on Friday.
"The issue of heroin, which has been so much referenced in
the death of Mr. Hoffman, is appearing to be increasing again,"
At a private wake on Thursday, Hollywood stars Joaquin
Phoenix and Ben Stiller were among the mourners.
Hoffman was also remembered at a somber candlelight vigil
outside the Labyrinth Theater Company in Greenwich Village on
Wednesday evening. He had been a member and a former artistic
director of the New York company, which is one of the nation's
leading ensemble theater groups.
(Writing by Patricia Reaney; editing by Gunna Dickson)