In the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, there was controversy over the paternity of her daughter as four men claimed to be the girl’s father.
Anna Nicole Smith lived for only 39 years, but her life on earth was eventful. She was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28, 1967, in Houston, Texas. Despite her poor background, she always dreamed of having a better life.
However, the good life Anna sought did not come easy. When she was 15, she dropped out of school and took a job at a fast-food chicken restaurant.
Anna’s breakthrough came after being featured on the cover for the March 1992 issue of Playboy magazine. She appeared as the Playboy Playmate of the month in the magazine’s May 1992 issue.
Afterward, Anna got a contract to replace Supermodel Claudia Schiffer in a Guess jeans ad campaign. The ad campaign featured multiple sultry black-and-white snaps.
She adopted the stage name Anna Nicole for the campaign. The name stuck, seeing Anna follow in the footsteps of her idol, Marilyn Monroe, who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson.
Anna was part of many modeling campaigns, including for Swedish clothing brand H&M. She was also on the cover of Marie Claire and GQ Magazine.
In addition to modeling, Anna ventured into film and television. However, she did not enjoy as much success in that sphere.
Anna tied the knot for the first time on April 4, 1985, with Billy Wayne Smith, a cook at the Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant she worked at in Mexia. She was just 17 when she married him.
On January 22, 1986, Anna gave birth to her and Billy’s son, Daniel Wayne Smith. However, the couple separated the year after their son’s birth before officially divorcing in 1993.
In 1991, Anna met the then-86-year-old Petroleum Tycoon J. Howard Marshall while she was performing at a strip club in Houston.
They started dating, with Marshall reportedly lavishing expensive gifts on her. He asked her to marry him and got his wish on June 27, 1994, when they tied the knot in Houston. Then, Marshall was 89, while Anna was 26.
Their 63-year age gap sparked rumors that Anna only married Marshall for his wealth. However, she always insisted that she loved him as he took her out of a terrible place.
Unfortunately, Anna and Marshall’s marriage lasted for only 13 months as he died on August 4, 1995, aged 90. Much drama surrounded her after his death as she sued for half of his $1.6 billion estate despite not being in his will.
Anna argued that even though she was not in her late husband’s will, he always wanted to provide for her. However, Marshall’s son, E. Pierce, challenged her in court.
Their court cases dragged back and forth in court until a 2011 ruling on the case ascertained that Anna was not due any money from Marshall. Unfortunately, the ruling came after both Anna and Pierce had died.
Anna was almost always in the news after her breakthrough. From her relationship with Marshall to the court cases after his death, she somewhat had a knack for attracting bad press.
During the court cases, she filed for bankruptcy and became addicted to painkillers. She also had dress mishaps, breast implant ruptures, and a generally topsy-turvy life.
However, none of Anna’s issues affected her, like Daniel’s passing on September 10, 2006. Daniel died at 20 while visiting his mom in her hospital room after she welcomed her baby girl.
After Daniel’s death, an autopsy determined that he passed from a combination of drugs, including methadone and antidepressants.
A Bahamian jury also determined that his death was from an accidental drug overdose and not crime-related. Nevertheless, Anna was hard hit by her son’s demise as they shared a close bond.
Anna lived a headline-making life, and that attribute continued even after her death, thanks to the paternity battle for her surviving child.
THE BATTLE FOR DANNIELYNN
Anna gave birth to her daughter Dannielynn on September 7, 2006, in New Providence, the Bahamas. She was in the Bahamas with her lawyer, Howard K Stern, when her daughter was born, and his name was listed as the baby’s father on her birth certificate.
On February 8, 2007, Anna died. Her death came five months after her daughter’s birth. She passed due to combined drug intoxication with the sleeping medication chloral hydrate being the major component.
Following Anna’s death, four men claimed to be Dannielynn’s father. These included her lawyer, Stern, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband Prince Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, her ex-boyfriend Mark Hatten, and Larry Birkhead, who she also dated.
Gabor’s husband told reporters that he had a decade-long affair with Anna and might be the father of her daughter. He also said he would file a lawsuit if Stern or Birkhead got custody of Dannielynn.
Meanwhile, Hatten dated Anna in 2000, but their relationship ended after confronting her with a knife in her bedroom. However, after she broke up with him, he continued stalking and threatening her, for which he was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.
Hatten’s basis for believing Dannielynn was his daughter confounded many. He died in July 2020 after being shot during an incident with another man in Greeleyville, South Carolina.
Stern and Birkhead, the men with the most legitimate claims to Dannielynn’s paternity, slugged it out in court.
Despite battling over Dannielynn, Stern and Birkhead agreed that Anna should be buried in the Bahamas next to her son even though her mom appealed the decision. Eventually, the late model was buried in the Bahamas.
The mystery behind who Dannielynn’s father was got solved after a DNA test proved that Birkhead was her rightful dad. Since then, he has been taking care of her. In 2013, a documentary titled “Life After Anna Nicole” aired with Birkhead narrating much of it.
In the documentary, Birkhead revealed his relationship with Anna was not easy because she always had an entourage that got in the way. However, he revealed that he loved her, and they had discussed marriage.
To preserve her status as a sex symbol, Anna insisted they keep their relationship a secret and only informed him about her pregnancy via a text message.
However, despite his wish to be present at their child’s delivery, she relocated to the Bahamas without informing him.
Birkhead also said he did not care about Anna’s decision to keep their relationship a secret. However, he admitted that things became difficult when proving his paternity as he had very few pictures of himself and Anna together.
Also, Birkhead revealed he could not see his daughter for many months but was delighted when he was eventually granted custody of her. As for Stern, although he could not get custody of Dannielynn, he was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges in January 2011.
He had been charged and found guilty of having an intent to defraud when he used his name and others to obtain prescriptions for Anna while keeping her privacy intact.
Additionally, Anna’s former bodyguard, Big Moe, alleged that he saw Stern giving Anna drugs via needle. Eventually, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Robert Perry, vindicated Stern of the charges. Following the ruling, he said:
“It was incredible just because I knew that I was vindicated, Anna was vindicated, who she was as a person was vindicated.”
He added that he looked up at the sky and talked to her in his mind after the court’s ruling. He also described Anna as his best friend who meant everything to him.
Birkhead became popular during the process of fighting to gain the right to be Dannielynn’s father. After gaining custody of her, they appeared on Larry King’s show.
After King’s death, Birkhead posted a tribute to the iconic broadcaster by sharing a picture of himself and Dannielynn when they appeared on the show.
Birkhead said he was honored to be on the show over the years and described King as a courteous person who loved telling stories during commercial breaks. He added:
“He sent Dannielynn gifts & this photo from our appearance. He used this pic as one of the pics 4 his Xmas cards that yr. #LarryKing RIP.”
Birkhead and Dannielynn live a quiet country life out of the Hollywood spotlight. He has also maintained a low profile since Anna’s passing.
In a 2019 chat with Daily Mail, Birkhead and Dannielynn spoke about how they are staying out of the spotlight and keeping Anna’s memory alive.
Birkhead said he tries to insulate his daughter from the negative press and commentary about her mother during the interview. He shared that he tells her positive things about what Anna did for charities and people.
Birkhead and Dannielynn, who closely resembles her mother, also appeared on ABC News ten years after Anna’s death.
In 2017, Birkhead shared some intimate thoughts from Anna’s private diary. One of the contents of her diary was her desire to have a daughter and not get married again.
Anna wrote that she wanted more children and a girl she could dress up, adding that she did not think she would ever get married because men are pigs.
Incredibly, Anna ended up having a daughter, and even though she is not alive to raise her child, it is lovely to see Dannielynn doing great under her father’s watchful eyes.