The Rev. Jesse Jackson led Thursday's service at Forest Lawn. Jackson said Cornelius created a platform for black music and culture that hadn't been seen on television when "Soul Train" debuted in 1970.
Celebrities who attended the near three-hour ceremony included Magic Johnson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.
Robinson spoke, explaining you never knew what Cornelius would ask a "Soul Train" guest. He said Cornelius asked him when he last visited Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles.
"Soul Train" was broadcast nationally from 1971 to 2006 and became one of television's longest running syndicated shows. He gave up hosting duties in 1993.
Cornelius died Feb. 1 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 75.