Saying goodbye to a Friend! Matthew Perry’s loved ones gather at private ceremony to celebrate actor’s life
A private funeral was held on Friday for Matthew Perry, six days after he was found dead in the hot tub at his Los Angeles home. He was 54.
The actor was laid to rest in a simple hour-long service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.
His tearful mother Suzanne Morrison, 84, and Dateline journalist stepfather Keith, 76, were both at the private event, as was his father John Perry, 82. Keith Morrison was one of the pallbearers.
Friends co-stars Jennifer Aniston, 54; Lisa Kudrow, 60; Courteney Cox, 59; and David Schwimmer, 57, arrived as a quartet – all dressed in black suits and somber as they prepared to say their last goodbyes to Perry.
An onlooker told DailyMail.com: ‘Ms Aniston was one of the first to arrive. She kept herself to herself. This is a high profile gathering.’
The cemetery is opposite Warner Bros Studios, where Friends was filmed for 10 seasons, and is the final resting place of a galaxy of Hollywood stars – among them Carrie Fisher, Bette Davis, Stan Laurel, Buster Keaton, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and Anne Heche.
Jennifer Aniston (at the back), Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer (center) and Lisa Kudrow (front) are seen on Friday at Forest Lawn Church of the Hills, in Los Angeles
The three women of Friends and David Schwimmer are seen entering the church to attend Matthew Perry’s funeral on Friday
Perry’s stepfather Keith Morrison, with the gray hair served as a pallbearer
The service ended with a rendition of Peter Gabriel song ‘Don’t Give Up’ which includes the lyrics: ‘No fight left or so it seems, I am a man whose dreams have all deserted, I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name, But no one wants you when you lose.’
An onlooker told DailyMail.com: ‘There was not a dry eye in there. There were a lot of tears and laughter. Only close friends and family spoke.’
After the service, Perry was buried in a dark wooden coffin in a family-only ceremony.
Crowds of black-clad mourners stood around outside the church after the ceremony.
Some were seen embracing and comforting each other. Many wore dark sunglasses, to shield their eyes from the bright Californian sun.
It is unclear whether Perry requested the church for his final farewell, or whether the family chose it for him.
It is also not known whether there will be a more public celebration of his life held at a later date.
The hearse carrying Matthew Perry’s body is pictured arriving at the cemetery on Friday
Perry’s coffin is pictured being carried into the church on Friday
The 54-year-old’s stepfather Keith Morrison was one of seven people to carry the casket
Perry’s coffin is pictured being carried into church on Friday
A van is seen arriving at the cemetery ahead of Perry’s funeral
SUVs carrying mourners are seen on Friday outside the cemetery
A long line of cars are seen parked outside the cemetery in Los Angeles
Friends and family of Matthew Perry are seen arriving for the funeral on Friday
On Monday, Aniston and the rest of the cast – Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Lisa Kurdow – issued a statement describing their shock and sadness.
‘We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,’ the cast said in a joint statement on Monday.
‘There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.
‘In time we will say more, as and when we are able.
‘For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.’
Mourners are seen outside the church in Los Angeles on Friday
Perry, 54, died on Saturday, leaving the showbusiness world in shock
Throughout his life, Perry had been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol.
The common narcotics were not found in Perry’s system during initial tests, according to a TMZ report. But more in-depth testing is underway and would show if the beloved actor had any prescription medication in his system.
When investigators responded to Perry’s home, they did not find any illegal drugs, but found prescription medication that was properly labeled and kept in storage bottles.
In his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry wrote that after his colon exploded in 2018, he was prescribed opiates that he deemed insufficient to deal with his pain, prompting him to turn to street dealers to supply him with potentially fentanyl-laced OxyContin.
‘The street pills were something like $75 per pill, so I was giving the guy $3,000 at a time, many times a week,’ he wrote.
After an initial investigation, the Los Angeles County coroner has deferred giving a cause of death, which may take weeks to determine. Those who knew him maintain that Perry was clean and sober at the time of his death.
Perry wrote at the beginning of his million-selling memoir: ‘Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.’
On Sunday, Perry’s book was ranked No. 1 on Amazon, supplanting Britney Spears’ memoir.
As he filmed the sitcom-hit Friends in the 90s, many people were unaware of the struggle Perry had with addiction and an intense desire to please audiences.
‘Friends was huge. I couldn’t jeopardize that. I loved the script. I loved my co-actors. I loved the scripts. I loved everything about the show but I was struggling with my addictions which only added to my sense of shame,’ he wrote in his memoir.
‘I had a secret and no one could know.
‘I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn’t laugh, and that’s not healthy for sure. But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions.’
Perry wrote: ‘If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out. I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick.’
He recalled in his memoir that co-star Jennifer Aniston confronted him about being inebriated while filming.
‘I know you’re drinking,’ he remembered her telling him once.
‘We can smell it,’ she said, in what Perry called a ‘kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer.’
A fellow member of Perry’s recovery program told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview Tuesday: ‘Matty wasn’t drinking. He was a big part of our AA community. He was attending meetings, speaking at meetings and was working with a handful of newcomers.
‘He had a sponsor and was a sponsor. He seemed to be doing well.’
The insider said the actor had been focused on helping others battling addiction and had recently expressed interest in sharing his story through public speaking events.
‘Matty said he wanted to return to universities and speak about alcoholism. That was his gift. He could speak so well and motivate people,’ the source added.
‘It was important for him to reach the younger generation and spread his Don’t Give Up message. He really lived by those words.
‘He always made people laugh, even in meetings. But he was also spiritual, not religious, but spiritual. He walked the talk and knew this was his mission. To help other people, to give them hope.
‘Matty will forever be the definition of hope because he never, ever gave up. He turned his life around and helped countless people in the program. More than he could imagine.’
In an interview with DailyMail.com, the woman seen lunching with the late actor at the Bel Air Hotel the day before he died said he was so committed to sobriety, he was reluctant to order a Diet Coke due to concerns about caffeine – which can be an addictive substance.
Model and entertainment reporter Athenna Crosby, 25, also told how Perry had been full of plans for the future.
He dreamed of making an autobiographical movie about his life, with Zac Efron in the title role – while he would make a cameo appearance as a therapist.
The glamorous brunette told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t think he had any desire to get back into drugs and alcohol.
‘I think he was so proud to finally be over that hump because he openly struggled with addiction for decades, and he was in and out of rehab as recently as the last couple of years.
‘He was relieved that he finally felt it was behind him, and he was trying to do everything to fight that.
‘While we were having lunch, he refused to touch the drink menu. He was saying that he’s gotten really into fitness and pickleball and he wants to get all his friends into it.
‘I think he was really serious about revamping himself into a whole new man.’
She added: ‘He was a little shy to order a Diet Coke because that’s caffeine, and it’s one more thing that some people might struggle with.
‘But then eventually he said, ‘I’m actually doing really good, and this is just a little treat to myself’.
‘He was concerned about anything that could compromise his health. That’s something that he took really, really seriously.’
Crosby, who met the actor ‘at the start of Fall’ after being introduced by a mutual friend, said the lunch they shared was the first they had enjoyed.
She told how Perry had invited her for a meal to discuss her career and said he gave her advice on how to handle fame and warned her to be careful with the pain meds she will get during an upcoming wisdom tooth operation – saying that those drugs were his gateway into addiction.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘That was the first lunch that I had had with him. I had met him before in person and talked to him a little bit, but that was really the first lunch that I had had with him.
‘It’s just so crazy that he happened to pass away the next day because I did not know him that well, and I happened to be getting to know him while we were at lunch.
‘I was asking him questions about himself, and he was so open. He was such an open book telling me so many different things. It felt like I had known him for so long, and he really just made the experience very positive.
‘I thought, ‘oh, great. This is somebody that I can have in my life who is a really good person that I can trust’. And then he’s gone the next day.’
Crosby said she discovered Perry had passed away after seeing a news report, and told DailyMail.com she is devastated that he never got the chance to put his plans into action.
She said: ‘He wanted to start his foundation to help people struggling with substance abuse, whether that be alcohol or drug addiction.
‘He also really wanted to have a movie made about his life. He was an actor and he wanted to get back into it.
‘And he wanted to have Zac Efron play him, and he wanted to make a cameo of him as a counselor or a therapist, sort of giving advice to the character playing him.
‘He had a very clear idea in mind of how he was going to take this circumstance and transform it into a story and use the medium of storytelling to reach people and really use his talents for that.
‘I really hope that those closer to him and his contemporaries and the industry can make that happen.’