Smith memorial to be lavish, private - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Smith memorial to be lavish, private

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Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2007 7:21 pm | Updated: 7:10 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

NASSAU, Bahamas - Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith will be buried beside her son Friday in a custom-made gown after an extravagant, private and "very pink" memorial service bringing together the three people battling for custody of her baby daughter.

The memorial service at Mount Horeb Baptist Church, next to a shopping mall west of downtown Nassau, will be "over the top," with up to 300 guests, a singer and copious amounts of pink flowers, organizer Patrik Simpson told The Associated Press.

"It will be something very beautiful, very private, very over the top and very pink," said Simpson, of Beverly Hills, Calif.

The burial will be much more intimate, with about 30 people, he said.

The casket will most likely be closed during the service, Simpson said. But he and other close friends of Smith's would arrange to put their pictures inside her casket before the burial, he added.

Both the funeral and burial will be closed to the public. On Thursday, dozens of steel barricades were readied by Bahamian police.

"We have the services of the police officers in the Bahamas and they are very competent," said Pedro Ferguson, managing director of the funeral home handling the arrangements.

Simpson's partner, Pol Atteu, has designed more than a dozen gowns for Smith, including the one in which she is to be buried in a "very elegant" casket. Simpson declined to describe the dress, but said the ceremony will reflect Smith's buoyant personality.

"It will be a very beautiful Anna Nicole send-off," he said. "Of course it will be over the top because it's Anna Nicole."

Smith, 39, died in Florida on Feb. 8, setting off a battle between her partner, Howard K. Stern; her mother, Virgie Arthur; and her ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead over the burial and custody of her 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn, who could potentially inherit millions.

A Bahamian court has scheduled a custody hearing for later this month.

Arthur had wanted to bury Smith in her native Texas. Birkhead lobbied for California. But Stern insisted the former reality TV star wanted to be buried next to her son, Daniel, who died at age 20 with drugs in his system while visiting Smith just after she gave birth in the Bahamas in September.

A Florida appeals court resolved that dispute Wednesday. Smith's body will be flown to the Bahamas by private plane early Friday, said attorney Richard Milstein, the court-appointed advocate for Smith's daughter.

"Anna is coming home, where she wanted to be," Stern attorney Ron Rale told AP Television News. "Everybody knows that Anna's intent was to be buried in the Bahamas."

Simpson said Stern, Arthur and Birkhead had to submit a guest list in advance and each would be limited to 100 people at the church service. According to Entertainment Tonight, country music singer Joe Nichols will also perform.

Simpson, 38, a talent scout who had been friends with Smith for five years, said he and his partner planned to place photos of themselves with their 15-year-old daughter, who sang at Daniel's funeral, inside her casket. Other friends will likely do the same, he said.

Despite the choice of a Baptist church for the service, Simpson said Smith wasn't particularly religious but was "spiritual." He recalled her as a warm and generous person.

"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."

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.

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