Smith death remains a mystery

n But the sideshow grows when

the husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor says

he may be the father of the former Playboy centerfold’s baby daughter.

BY CURT ANDERSON

The Associated Press

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – The mystery surrounding Anna Nicole Smith’s death cleared up only slightly Friday, while the husband of an elderly ex-starlet added to the circus surrounding her life.

Broward County authorities said no illegal drugs were found in the hotel room where the 39-year-old former centerfold collapsed Thursday, and that she had suffered no serious physical injury. But the medical examiner said it could take weeks to determine whether drugs, natural causes or a combination of the two are to blame.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, Prince Frederick von Anhalt, said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and may be her infant daughter’s father. The claim comes amid a paternity fight over the girl between Smith’s former boyfriend and a lawyer whose name is on Dannielynn’s birth certificate.

A line of TV satellite trucks outside the small one-story building that houses the medical examiner’s office illustrated the intense public interest in Smith’s death. “Well, that’s America,” said Jacques Gill, a 73-year-old retiree from Quebec.

A crying baby

Meanwhile, Smith’s mother was in the Bahamas, checking on the welfare of her granddaughter, 5-month-old Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. Earlier Friday, a reporter heard a crying baby at the home of the mother of a friend of Smith’s reported to be caring for her, but no one answered the door.

Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner who did the autopsy, said only prescription drugs were found in Smith’s room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.

He would not identify the drugs, but CNN quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as saying there were large amounts of prescription drugs, including Valium and antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter cold and flu medication.

Perper said Smith had been sick for several days with some kind of stomach flu. There were no pills in Smith’s stomach and no other immediate signs of an overdose, he said, but officials “do not exclude any kind of contribution of medication to the death.”

He reported signs of inflammation in Smith’s heart – “Something which looks a little bit unusual” – but added, “It may be nothing.”

Perper said it would take three to five weeks to conclude the investigation. Authorities also planned to interview a nurse and others and examine medical records before settling on a cause of death.

Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger said there was no indication the voluptuous blonde was the victim of a crime, and Perper said the autopsy was able to exclude any kind of physical injury such as blows to the body or asphyxiation.

“There are a number of possibilities” as to the cause of death, Perper said, including natural causes, a drug reaction or some combination of the two.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a judge overseeing a paternity dispute between former boyfriend Larry Birkhead and attorney Howard K. Stern over Smith’s baby daughter ordered that the model’s body be preserved for at least 10 days for a possible DNA test. That could interfere with plans for a funeral.

Debra Opri, an attorney for Birkhead, said the DNA is needed to connect Smith with Dannielynn “so that no one can switch the babies.”

The strangest twist Friday was von Anhalt, who said he would sue if Dannielynn is turned over to Stern or Birkhead.

“If you go back from September, she wasn’t with one of those guys, she was with me,” von Anhalt told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

Von Anhalt, 59, and 1950s sex symbol Gabor, now 90, have been married for more than 20 years. He said he and Gabor met Smith in the 1990s, when she was married to elderly oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II.

Fan of Zsa Zsa

“She was a very big fan of Zsa Zsa and wanted to be like Zsa Zsa,” he said. “She wanted to be a princess.”

At her death, Smith was waging a yearslong court battle over the estate of Marshall, who died in 1995 at age 90. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million, but that was later overturned.

Smith, a small-town Texas girl who went from topless dancer to Playboy Playmate of the Year and Guess? jeans model, was found unconscious in her hotel room by a private nurse, officials said.

A bodyguard performed CPR, Tiger said, but Smith was declared dead at a hospital.

In recent TV appearances, Smith’s speech was often slurred and critics said she seemed drugged-out.

Michael Scott, a former attorney for Smith in the Bahamas, said he suspects drugs “featured in her death.” And Smith’s mother said Friday she believes her daughter died of an overdose. Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel, died in September of what was believed to be an accidental drug overdose, soon after Smith gave birth to her daughter.

“I think she had too many drugs, just like Danny,” her mother, Vergie Arthur, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I tried to warn her about drugs and the people that she hung around with. She didn’t listen.”

“She was too drugged up,” Arthur said. “By the last interview I saw of her, she was so wasted.”

Smith’s attorney, Ron Rale, dismissed claims her death was related to drugs as “a bunch of nonsense.” Rale said he had talked to her on Tuesday or Wednesday, and she had flu symptoms and a fever and was still grieving over her son.

AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles and AP Writers Laura Wides-Munoz in Hollywood, Fla., Ana Beatriz Cholo in Los Angeles and Jessica Robertson in Nassau, Bahamas, contributed to this report.