Anna buried in Bahamas amid bickering, boos and cheers
AFP - The guests of honor were feuding. Spectators booed and cheered behind steel barricades. A crew from an entertainment television program buzzed around a coffin draped in a pink cover studded with rhinestones spelling out her name.
Anna Nicole's Smith's funeral on Friday was part soap opera, part circus _ perhaps a fitting combination for a woman who found a niche on the ragged outer edge of celebrity as a former Playboy Playmate and reality TV star.
But for those who came to pay their respects, the event was a solemn one despite the atmosphere.
''It was very, very sad,'' said Kathryn Beranich, who was supervising producer of Smith's reality TV show. ''Seeing the casket being rolled down, you realize this friend is in there and she will no longer be with us.''
While Smith was laid to rest at the lavish service, the fight over her baby daughter _ and a potential multimillion dollar inheritance _ remained very much alive. Her companion Howard K. Stern, her mother Virgie Arthur and her former boyfriend Larry Birkead are battling for custody of 5-month-old Dannielynn, and barely put their bickering aside for the ceremonies.
Inside Mount Horeb Baptist Church, pink roses and flower arrangements lined the aisle and adorned the altar, where organizers placed two photos of the blonde bombshell _ including one showing her striking a Marilyn Monroe-like pose.
Fewer than 100 people attended the service, even though organizers said about 300 _ including an ''Entertainment Tonight'' camera crew _ had been invited. Guests said rock guitarist Slash, formerly of Guns N' Roses, was in attendance, and country singer Joe Nichols performed two songs.
Arthur, Birkhead and Stern took turns eulogizing the 39-year-old Smith, who died last month in a Florida hotel.
''It was pretty tough. The funeral itself was a mixture of emotions, there was a lot of crying and laughing,'' Birkhead told MSNBC after the service.
Beranich told The Associated Press she thought Smith would have been happy with the ceremony, although ''she wouldn't have been pleased with the division between her biological family and the extended family she created and loved.''
|Locals stand before the grave of Anna Nicole Smith on Friday at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau in the Bahamas
Smith was buried next to her 20-year-old son, Daniel, who died in September of an apparent drug overdose while visiting Smith in the hospital after she gave birth.
At the grave site, a small flock of doves was released and several escaped the large green tent erected to block the scene from spectators and the media. Ruby Ann Darling, who described herself as Smith's spiritual adviser, said Arthur, Stern and Birkhead each left pink and red roses on top of the coffin.
Onlookers, a mixture of Bahamians and tourists, spontaneously broke into the hymn ''When Peace Like a River'' as Smith's white hearse– with a police motorcycle escort –and the rest of the funeral cortege reached the cemetery. Some booed Smith's mother when she arrived, though she had been cheered earlier by a crowd outside the memorial service.
Arthur, who wanted her daughter buried in her native Texas, made a last-minute bid for custody of the body that was denied by Supreme Court Justice Anita Adams, according to Lilliemae MacDonald, the judge's secretary.