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The Life and Death of Anna Nicole Smith


With her outgoing personality and her impressive presence, Anna Nicole Smith took the nation by storm during the 90s. The bubbly blonde Playboy model was everywhere and from the outside it seemed like she was simply happy with life, despite her controversial choices.

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However, away from the public eye, she had actually begun going down a very dark path which eventually led to her tragic death. Till this day, nobody really knows how Anna really felt behind that beautiful smile. Her kids were her entire world, but she was facing some personal difficulties along the way. Anna Nicole Smith’s life was like one long exciting rollercoaster ride which ended in one of the saddest ways imaginable.

Click ‘Start Slideshowand learn more about Anna Nicole Smith’s remarkable life story.

In the Beginning

On November 28, 1967, Anna Nicole Smith came into the world. Well, Vickie Lynn Hogan did. She wouldn’t become Anna Nicole Smith officially for many years. She was born into a simple life. While she spent some of early life in Houston, living with her mother for several years after Vickie Lynn Hogan’s father left the family.

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When her mother again remarried, Vickie Lynn saw an opportunity and took her new stepfather’s last name, becoming Nikki Hart. Though she was still in school, in 9th grade she was shipped off to live with her auntie in the Mexia, Texas.

Young Love

The small Texas town of Mexia didn’t have a whole lot to it. Nikki Hart went to Mexia High School, but didn’t do too well. She flunked her first year of high school. When the sophomore year came around, she dropped out of school entirely. She instead spent her time working at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken, a local joint.

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There, she met a boy named Billy Wayne Smith and, presumably, fell in love. On the 4th of April, 1985, at just 17 years old, the couple were wed. Less than a year later, their son Daniel was born.

Dreaming Big

Now Vickie Lynn Smith (I guess “Nikki” didn’t stick), she set her sights on larger aspirations. Her idol was Marilyn Monroe, and she wanted to reach the same heights as her idol. She moved back to Houston and left her son in the care of her mother while she started work at a strip club called Pleasures.

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It was here, in 1991, that she met the man who might change her life, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II. The two hit it off and began a relationship. She was, of course, still married at this time.

A Big Break

In 1992, Smith had sent some nude photos of herself to Playboy for their consideration. This turned out to be a pretty good deal for her, as she was invited to shoot for the magazine and appeared on its March 1992 cover.

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Further, she was named the Playmate of the Month for the May issue in 1992. Things were starting to look up in a big, big way for Vickie Smith, as she was being billed in Playboy. Even greater things were ahead, and she wouldn’t even have to wait all that long.

The Model

After showing up in Playboy, Vickie Smith had turned some heads. Once Claudia Schiffer’s time with Guess jeans ended, Smith was picked up and, during the campaign, she finally became Anna Nicole Smith. The Guess job was huge for Smith. She was constantly in front of the camera lens, and soon started picking up more gigs, like one for H&M, a Swedish clothing company.

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With H&M, she made her way onto billboards in Europe. She even made it to the pages of Marie Claire. Not just the pages, the cover. She was moving up, and very quickly.

A Bad Cover

Not all of her photo shoots turned out so well, however. Anna Nicole Smith was more than a little taken aback when she appeared on a magazine cover of New York magazine with the title “White Trash Nation.” The photo they chose showed her squatting in cowboy boots, wearing a short skirt and eating chips. Not long after that August 1994 issue was released, Smith’s lawyer filed a suit, saying they were misled and the usage of the photo was unauthorized.

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Additionally, the photo which was used on the cover was taken during a break and not actually part of the shoot, the suit claimed. When asked about it, the magazine’s editor said, “I guess they just found the picture unflattering.” It is believed the suit was settled out of court.

The May-December Relationship

The relationship between Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall continued for years. He gave her gifts, and asked her to marry him over and over again. On February 3, 1993, Smith divorced her husband of eight years, Billy Wayne Smith. A year and change later, she and Marshall were wed. On the day they were married, Smith was 26 years old and Marshall was 89.

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Rumors say she never lived with him, never made love with him or kissed him on the lips more than a handful of times. Some people even suggest she married him for money. Nevertheless, Smith always said she truly loved her dear husband. Just over a year later, Marshall died at 90 years old.

Inheritance Issues

Following the death of her husband, Anna Nicole Smith was intent on getting some of the inheritance. Marshall’s son, however, E. Pierce Marshall, was having none of it. She was looking for half of the estate, which was valued at about $1.6 billion.

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Though she was not in the will, Smith claimed the elder Marshall had sworn her half of everything if she wed him. She and another of Marshall’s sons, J. Howard Marshall III, teamed up, as he had also been left out of the will after being since he was disowned by his father.

Taken to Court

The case stayed in the court system for years, with some courts ruling for Smith and others ruling against her. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Twice. The first ruling in favor said she should get nearly $450 million. The second ruling said the first had no right to make that ruling.

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Another said Smith had to pay $1 million. Another said she should get $88 million. The Supreme Court didn’t rule on whether or not she deserved money, but decided she had the right to fight for it. Even at the point she died, the case remained unresolved.

On the Big Screen

As huge as she got in the modeling world, it seems Anna Nicole Smith was never destined for the silver screen. Her first role was in The Hudsucker Proxy, sharing the screen with big names such as Tim Robbins, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Later that year she was in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult with Leslie Nielsen.

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Though both films were somewhat popular, and she did a decent enough job, they didn’t really launch a film career for her. Her first major role was as Colette Dubois, a withdrawn spy, in To the Limit. It was a flop at the box office, and her last lead role in Hollywood.

On the Small Screen

In the late ’90s, Anna Nicole Smith showed up on a couple television shows. Perhaps the biggest roles were as a friend of Kirstie Alley’s character on Veronica’s Closet and a guest-starring role on Ally McBeal. Her biggest small screen appearance was on her own reality TV show, The Anna Nicole Show.


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It focused on her life and the people in it, including her attorney, Howard K. Smith; her son, Daniel; her assistant; her poodle Sugar Pie; her interior decorator and her relative, a cousin, from down in Texas. When it debuted, it had the highest cable rating ever issued for a reality show.

Further Work

Though she appeared in a couple more bit parts, sometimes as herself, her major film work was pretty much done. She appeared in a few more films, pretty much all straight-to-video pieces. However, she did get some jobs as a spokesperson. For a time she pushed TrimSpa, a weight-loss program. Smith even gave it a little promotion on stage during the 2004 American Music Awards as she was introducing Kanye West.

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Her garbled speech and odd behavior were a cause of concern for many. This, perhaps, was a sign of her more hidden problems. She also spoke for PETA, appearing in commercials for the organization.

Enter Dannielynn

On June 1, 2006, a video was posted to Anna Nicole Smith’s official website. In it, she was floating around on an inflatable raft. “Let me stop all the rumors,” she said. “Yes, I am pregnant. I’m happy, I’m very, very happy about it.” On September 7, 2006, her daughter was born.

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Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern was born in New Providence, down in The Bahamas, with her father registered as Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith’s lawyer. They had been in a relationship for some time, it was later revealed. As happy as they were, tragedy would strike just three days later.

A Passing

On September 10, 2006, Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole’s son, came to the hospital room to visit his mother and his brand new half sister. While there, he died. This was likely the hardest thing Anna Nicole Smith ever had to endure in her life. She and her son were inseparable.

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According to Howard K. Stern, Smith considered herself both Daniel’s mother and father, and that he was “without question the most important person in Anna’s life.” Stern said at Daniel’s funeral “she had them open the coffin and tried to climb inside. She said that ‘if Daniel has to be buried, I want to be buried with him.” His death was caused by a deathly combo of Zoloft, Lexapro and methadone.

Committed

A little more than two weeks after the death of Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern held a commitment ceremony on the catamaran Margaritaville. They said their vows, exchanged rings and had all the trappings of a wedding. She wore a pretty white, simple dress, he sported a suit.

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It wasn’t a legally binding marriage, but it worked for them. Some questioned the odd timing of the event, but her new attorney said “They needed a little adrenaline boost because things have been so hectic and devastating in their life recently.” That is completely understandable.

Life in the Bahamas

An issue had sprung up regarding the paternity of Anna Nicole Smith’s new baby. In order to avoid forced paternity testing in the United States, the couple decided it was best to just stay in the Bahamas. Considering the weather and scenery, I don’t blame them. Toward the end of 2006, Smith was made a permanent resident of the area, but that didn’t come without its own controversy.

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The status was granted by Bahamas Immigration Minister Shane Gibson, who was later seen in photographs hugging a clothed Anna Nicole Smith in bed. Though Gibson claimed the photos were innocent, the opposition party accused him of behaving inappropriately and forced him to resign.

Trouble in the Bahamas

One of the ways in which Anna Nicole Smith was able to stay in the Bahamas was due to a $900,000 massive mansion she owned in the area. This, she claimed, was given to her by a previous boyfriend. The former boyfriend, however, contests this claim.


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According to him, he gave Anna a loan of the money to get the place, but she never paid it back. He sued to have her evicted, and she defaulted on the issue when she never responded or appeared in court. When the property was seized, a large bottle of methadone was found in Smith’s bedroom refrigerator.

A Problem with Pills

It was known for some time that Anna Nicole Smith had become addicted to prescription medications. She had met with a psychiatrist in April 2006 who determined Smith had borderline personality disorder, signs of which are multiple unstable relationships, an unstable sense of self and unstable emotions. All of these described Anna Nicole Smith quite well.

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Additionally, methadone was often found around her. It was in her son’s system, it was found in the home which was reclaimed by her former boyfriend, and it was discovered she had even been prescribed the substance during the final months of her pregnancy.

February 8, 2007

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino located in Hollywood, Florida, would prove to be the place where Anna Nicole Smith would end her life. On the 8th of February, 2007, she was found dead in Room number 607 of the hotel. Her friend, a trained ER nurse, did CPR for more than 15 minutes. Her husband, Anna Nicole Smith’s bodyguard, took over after her. The bodyguard, a skilled paramedic, had called the front desk and informed them of what had happened. They called security, who in turn called 9-1-1. Paramedics arrived, transported Anna Nicole Smith to a hospital, at which point she was, sadly, pronounced dead.

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The call to 9-1-1 was released to the public several days later. “We need assistance to Room 607 at the Hard Rock. It’s in reference to a white female. She’s not breathing and not responsive … actually, it’s Anna Nicole Smith.”

Cause of Death

It took a seven-week long investigation to get all the answers as to why Anna Nicole Smith had died. Her death was declared an accidental drug overdose of multiple drugs. Specifically, she had taken a sedative called chloral hydrate which became lethal when taken with other drugs at the same time. It seemed she had taken Clonazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam and Diazepam, in addition to Benadryl, Topamax, an anticonvulsant and the chloral hydrate. Though methadone was often around her, it didn’t lead to her death. It was found in her bile, which meant it had been a couple days since she had taken any.

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None of the drugs found in her body were prescribed to her. Eight were written for Howard K. Stern, two were written for Alex Katz and the final was written for Smith’s psychiatrist. It was revealed the psychiatrist had written all of the prescriptions.

The Fate of Dannielynn

The hits kept on coming for Anna Nicole Smith’s closest family members following her death. Though Howard K. Stern had previously stated he was certain he was the father, a paternity test was eventually compelled, as there were multiple theories as to the father of the child.

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One stated that Dannielynn could have been conceived using frozen sperm from J. Howard Marshall, her second husband. Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband claimed to have had a decade-long affair with Smith and that the child could be his. A former bodyguard of Smith also claimed to have had an affair with her.

The True Father

On April 10, 2007, a judge in the Bahamas made a final ruling in the case. Using the results of a DNA test, it was confirmed that Larry Birkhead was the father. Birkhead was a photographer who had long believed Dannielynn was his.

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Howard K. Stern didn’t contest any of the rulings, and Birkhead worked to get the baby’s last name changed in order to get her a passport to bring her back to the States. Birkhead was successful in his endeavor, in spite of the fact Anna Nicole Smith’s mother worked against him.

Here and Now

Ten years after the death of her mother, Dannielynn was interviewed by ABC’s 20/20. They asked her questions about her mother, but she didn’t have much to say, considering she never knew her. Her father, Larry Birkhead, appeared with her as well. He brought a poem Dannielynn had written, one which gives some insight into the emotions she feels about her mother.

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Ever since my mother’s death,
A friends of hers said she would send me pretty butterflies.
So butterflies chase me everywhere,
And I let the butterflies come out of my pencil and fly on my paper with their wings of love.
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