Ten years ago today, Anna Nicole Smith died at the age of 39.
The former Playboy model was found dead in a Florida hotel room after overdosing on prescription pills, according to the Miami Herald. Anna Nicole Smith left behind a 5-month-old daughter and a paternity question hanging in the air.
The name on Dannielynn’s birth certificate was Howard K. Stern, Nicole’s agent, attorney, and domestic partner. However, days before the actress passed, Larry Birkhead sued for a paternity test. A judge endorsed the move and ordered Smith to undergo a DNA test to confirm if he was actually the father. It turned out that Birkhead was Dannielynn’s real father. The celebrity photographer has full custody of his 10-year-old daughter. The pair live in Kentucky.
In an interview with Inside Edition’s Diane McInerney, Dannielynn allowed the cameras capture her as she danced around the house and played the violin. The bubbly fifth-grader even takes McInerney into her bedroom and introduces her to the family dogs. Unfortunately, she has no recollection of her celebrity mother.
Anna Nicole Smith courted controversy when she married billionaire oil tycoon Howard Marshall in 1994. The one-time stripper had caught the eye of the wealthy man while performing in a strip club. The billionaire was 89-years-old while Smith at the time was 26. Marshall died 14 months after he married Smith. This sparked a bitter legal battle over his vast fortune for the next 12 years between Nicole and Marshall’s stepson, E. Pierce Marshall.
Even though Marshall did not include Anna Nicole Smith in his will, her attorneys made the case that it was his intention to provide and take care of his wife. Smith won a $474 million settlement but lost it all after the judgment was appealed. Despite initial reports that Dannielynn was in line to benefit from the Marshall estate, Anna Nicole’s lawyers lost a final bid to get her money in 2014.
The fight for Marshall’s $1.6 billion estate continues to rage on even though Anna Nicole Smith and E. Pierce Marshall have died. A source speaking to the Houston Chronicle confirmed Dannielynn was no longer in the running to inherit anything. However, the case continues to drag on because the rest of Marshall’s heirs continue to tussle in court over the inheritance.
The estate case has been bandied in state and federal court systems even when the family has been advised to reach a consensus out of court. This year, there are three current cases regarding the oil tycoon’s estate. The judge who has presided over the avalanche of cases for 20 years recently revealed that he was quitting the case.
“My job is to reach decisions, to get these cases resolved. I decided I’m not going to be able to resolve this at all, so I’m done…I am tired of this case. I don’t want my legacy to be: He couldn’t resolve the Marshall case. I resolved it many times.”
Anna Nicole Smith was fodder for the media because of her surgically enhanced breasts and because she was an accident always waiting to happen. Her biography became arguably one of the most popular episodes of True Hollywood Stories. In 2002, she was given her own reality TV series– The Anna Nicole Show by the E! network.
The wild series portrayed the former Playboy model as a train wreck. Anna Nicole Smith had gained weight and no longer got regular acting or modeling gigs. She was also in dire straits financially after embarking on lavish spending sprees and heaping lump sums on her attorneys as she battled her stepson over her billionaire husband’s fortune. Story slants also included the reality star struggling to remain celibate and trying to stop her poodle from having sex with inanimate objects.
At times during the show, Smith would slur her speech and make irrational decisions. This prompted her mother to go on The Dr. Keith Ablow Show to beg her daughter to stop using drugs. Her sister, Donna Hogan, had appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live to reveal that she had not spoken to her sister in 10 years. Hogan would later reveal that she was not shocked by her sister’s death, adding that an overdose “would be my first guess.”
Anna Nicole Smith’s son, Daniel, died of an overdose. He passed on three days after the TV star gave birth to her daughter. Smith’s friend Margaret Cho revealed that the TV star took Daniel’s death very hard. According to her, Anna Nicole refused to let go of her son even when he had died. The ex-model clutched her son in her arms for four hours and only let go after loved ones intervened. Cho made it known that Smith felt guilty about her son’s death and turned to prescription drugs to deal with her pain.
“It has to do with some postpartum depression, some overwhelming guilt that her son had died. They both had an issue with prescription painkillers and different drugs…I think that her grief was overwhelming.”
At the time of her passing, Anna Nicole Smith was taking 44 different medications, according to USA Today. Anna Nicole’s story is a rags-to-riches tale about a small-town girl who became an instant sensation after gracing the cover of Playboy and taking over from Claudia Schiffer as the face model for Guess jeans.
[Featured Image by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]