Smith's funeral in Bahamas has tight guest list
EmptyNASSAU, Bahamas -- Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in a custom-made gown next to her 20-year-old son following an "over the top" memorial service with a tightly controlled guest list, said a friend helping to organize the memorial.
The memorial service, with about 300 guests at an undisclosed church, will feature many pink flowers, her favorite color, and songs from a well-known performer whose name organizers aren't ready to disclose, said the friend, Patrik Simpson of Beverly Hills, Calif.
"It will be a very beautiful, Anna Nicole send-off," Simpson told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday night in the Bahamian capital of Nassau. "Of course it will be over the top because it's Anna Nicole."
Simpson's partner, Pol Atteu, has designed more than a dozen gowns for Smith, including the one in which she was to be buried in a "very elegant" casket that will most likely be closed, he said. He declined to describe the dress.
Smith's body will be flown to the Bahamas by private plane early Friday and the funeral will take place hours later, said lawyer Richard Milstein, the court-appointed advocate for Smith's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.
Smith, 39, died in a Florida hotel on Feb. 8 -- setting off a battle over her burial and for custody of Dannielynn between her partner, Howard K. Stern, her mother, Virgie Arthur, and ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead.
Arthur had wanted to bury Smith in her native Texas. But Stern insisted the former Playboy Playmate wanted to be buried next to her son, Daniel, who died of apparent drug-related causes as he visited his mother three days after she gave birth to Dannielynn in the Bahamas.
The wrangling over Smith's body ended Wednesday when a Florida appeals court upheld a judge's ruling that allowed Smith to be buried in the Bahamas and Arthur decided not to appeal that decision.
Wayne Munroe, the Bahamian attorney for Smith's estate, said the Florida court ruling was "common sense."
"Everyone in this whole saga knows what her wishes were about every aspect of her affairs -- custody, property, everything," Munroe told the AP. "But people are steadfastly trying to get their wishes met and not hers. Nobody seems to care about this woman's wishes."
A Bahamian court has scheduled a hearing in the custody dispute for mid-March.
Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. She had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995, and her baby daughter could inherit millions.
Simpson said each "faction" -- Stern, Arthur and Birkhead -- had to submit a guest list in advance and each would be limited to 100 people at the church service.
"It will be something very beautiful, very private, very over the top and very pink," he said.
The burial at Lakeview Memorial Gardens & Mausoleums will be much more intimate, with about 30 people, he said.
At Daniel's funeral, Smith and Stern erected a large green tent that blocked the media and other spectators from the service. Organizers of the former pinup's service are expected to do the same.
Simpson, a 38-year-old model talent scout who was friends with Smith for the past five years, said he and his partner plan to place photos of themselves with their 15-year-old daughter, who sang at Daniel's funeral, inside her casket, and other close friends also will likely add photos.
He recalled Smith as a warm and generous person who always remembered their daughter's birthday and other special events.
"She was just a good friend, a good mother, a great person," Simpson said. "She had a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off her own back."