Emotional Jackie Chan buries father in Australia

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan returned to his Australian roots on Saturday to bury his father alongside his mother almost six years after she died in Australia’s capital.

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Chan’s father Charlie died in a Hong Kong hospital on February 26, aged 93, after battling prostate cancer. Chan brought his body back to Canberra to be laid to rest beside Lee Lee Chan, who died in 2002.

“It’s a hard day. I loved my father so much because he did so much for me when I was young. We had a very poor family and he left Hong Kong to support himself. He was just the greatest father for me,” a distraught Chan told reporters.

Hundreds of mourners including the U.S. ambassador and Chinese deputy envoy attended the funeral at a leafy winery on the outskirts of Canberra, before burial at a nearby cemetery.

Chan arrived early in a black bead-embroidered suit and dark wrap sunglasses, walking past vineyards and scores of floral wreaths lining the entrance to the DeVine winery complex.

Inside, the flower-draped casket lay in front of a photo of Charlie Chan with his favorite fishing caps and wooden pipe.

Jackie Chan, star of Hollywood films such as “Rush Hour” and “Rumble in the Bronx”, arrived in Australia aged 6 after his father moved there for work in the 1960s, but was soon sent back to Hong Kong to attend the China Drama Academy.

He continued to spend lengthy periods in Canberra with his parents, briefly attending a local high school.

Living in Australia for 40 years, Charlie Chan went from head cook at the U.S. embassy to a successful local restaurant owner, though most of his final years were spent in Hong Kong with his actor son after his wife died.

“Australia and Canberra really took care of my family for more than 40 years,” Chan said, adding he would open a university medical research centre named after the family on Sunday.

Chan will shortly team with fellow action star Jet Li for the new adventure epic The Forbidden Kingdom, to be filmed in China, and is also a goodwill envoy for this year’s Beijing Olympics.

He said he planned one day to move his parents’ bodies back to their homeland of China. Charlie Chan came from Shandong province, close family friend David Ng told Reuters.

Friends and mourners inside the funeral said Chan was “very distressed” as he and others passed a wall of family photographs, many showing father and son hugging or fishing together.

Messages of support were read from former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and film director Quentin Tarantino.

Chan and his son Jason led mourners from the service carrying a large photo of his father before traveling to the cemetery, where roses and fishing mementoes were placed alongside the casket in the grave.

Chan said on his Web site that his father died “with a smile on his face and laying in the arms of those he held dearest”.

Editing by Sanjeev Miglani