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The BBC's Jim Muir watched the funeral in Tehran
"The fact that such a major public occasion was permitted shows how Iran is coming to terms with its pre-revolutionary past"
 real 28k

Sunday, 9 April, 2000, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Iranian 'King of Hearts' dies
Revolutionary guards marching
Fardin was out of step with revolutionary Iran
More than 20,000 mourners have gathered in Tehran for the funeral of Iranian film star and wrestler Mohammad-Ali Fardin.

Many Iranian celebrities came to the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran to pay their final respects to the man who was known as the "King of Hearts".

Mr Fardin died in his sleep, apparently from a heart attack, aged 70.

The funeral cortege set out from the Iranian Wrestling Federation headquarters, reflecting Mr Fardin's success in the ring, which culminated with the silver medal at the 1952 world freestyle wrestling championships in Tokyo.

Post-revolution ban

He began his acting career in 1960 with Fountain of Youth and is best remembered for his starring role in King of Hearts.

Mohammad-Ali Fardin
Fardin: First a wrestler, then an actor, finally a baker

His films contained romantic scenes, alcohol, scantily-dressed women, night-clubs and a lifestyle altogether frowned on by the Islamic establishment.

After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, he was able to act in only one film, The Damned, before being banished from the screen.

His films were withdrawn, but continued to circulate on video.

'Loss'

In recent years, Mr Fardin had earned his living running a bakery in northern Tehran.

Mourners dressed in black gathered outside his shop Saturday to light candles, place flowers, and offer condolences.

"I have seen contraband videos of his movies, I liked him very much. My mother and I came today to let his family know that we share in their loss," high-school student Bahareh, 17, said.

While the news of his death was virtually ignored by the conservative state radio and television, it was carried on the front pages of Tehran's pro-reform press.

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