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(photo credit: AP)
Fans of Anna Nicole Smith aren't making pilgrimages to the place where she spent her final days. They're not leaving flowers. They're not gathering in crowds to express their grief. Instead, emotions are being expressed in a way as uniquely modern as Smith's fame - on blogs, Web pages and online message boards where true fans battle naysayers to get their voices heard.
"I loved her," fans beam. "I miss her," others write. "She was beautiful," they say.
On Facebook, hundreds of Anna Nicole pages are buzzing with gossip and outpourings of emotion. YouTube has logged hundreds of thousands of hits on Anna Nicole videos, including some fan-produced tributes. One fan put a message on Craigslist seeking others touched by the starlet's death for a candlelight vigil in New York's Union Square.
"I do almost feel like I've lost something. She was an inspiration to me," said Sian Richter, a 20-year-old office worker who has been posting messages and photos online from her London home.
Richter said she has handbags adorned with pictures of Smith, a bobblehead doll in the former Playboy model's likeness and recordings of episodes of The Anna Nicole Show.
The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Smith's body said it could take weeks to determine the cause of death. Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner, said Friday that no illegal drugs were discovered in the 39-year-old Smith's room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood where she collapsed Thursday.
In Kuala Lumpur, a huge photo of Smith in a bright red dress was splashed across the front page of the Star newspaper on Saturday. Her image fronted the Iltalehti newspaper in Helsinki, Finland.
"I sympathize with her," said Catherine Toth, a 31-year-old resident of Hawaii Kai on the island of Oahu who pens "The Daily Dish" blog for The Honolulu Advertiser. "I saw so much tragedy in her life. I just kept hoping it would get better."
Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, was not with her when she died Thursday in Florida. Bahamian officials would not confirm if the child was being cared for in the island chain.
Attorney Godfrey Pinder, who represents G. Ben Thompson, a former boyfriend of Smith's who was embroiled in a court fight with her over the ownership of the waterfront mansion where she had been living in Nassau, Bahamas, said Saturday her death means her claim to the mansion was no longer legitimate.
"We changed the locks and have put a chain on the gate," Pinder said. "We have physical control of the house."
That was Friday. On Saturday, the locks were changed again when an attorney for Smith, Wayne Munroe, said he had retaken control of the disputed estate.
Smith's most recent companion, attorney Howard K. Stern, and Larry Birkhead, a former boyfriend, have both claimed to be Dannielynn's father.
In addition, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, stepped forward Friday to claim he had had an affair with Smith and may be the baby's father.
And the Daily News reported Saturday that a manuscript it obtained by Smith's half-sister, Donna Hogan, says Smith froze the sperm of her 90-year-old oilman husband, J. Howard Marshall, before his death and may have used it to become pregnant.
Since Marshall's death in 1995, Smith had been waging a court battle at her death over his estate. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million, but that was later overturned. But in May, the US Supreme Court revived her case, ruling that she deserved another day in court.