Anna Nicole Smith was remembered by her ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, and their daughter, Dannielynn, at the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Birkhead posted a photo of himself and his 10-year old daughter at the annual pre-Derby Barnstable-Brown party, the site that he first met Anna Nicole in 2003. At the time, Anna Nicole Smith was filming her reality show, The Anna Nicole Show, when she met the handsome photographer for the first time.
“Dannielynn b4 she raided the dessert room at the Barnstable-Brown Party where I met her Mom in 2003,” Larry captioned the photo.
Birkhead previously told ABC’s 20/20 that when he first met Anna Nicole at the Barnstable-Brown party, he got wind that she asked her attorney, Howard K. Stern, about him, “Who’s that?” Anna Nicole also kept waving cross the room and blowing kisses at her future lover.
“She’s waving at me and me and blowing kisses and I mean, she knew how to work the camera,” he said. “I mean, I looked over my shoulder, she’s gotta be talking to someone else.”
Soon after, Larry was hired to take photos of Smith at a camp for children living with HIV. The event was also captured for her reality show. The two eventually began dating and Larry moved to Los Angeles to live with Smith, but their relationship was kept private.
“No one ever knew one time that I was her boyfriend,” Birkhead told 20/20. “The whole time we dated, if you look at all the video, I’m in the back carrying my camera bag … she didn’t want me in the spotlight. She was a little bit controlling. She wanted you there when she wanted you. We sat back and laughed at the movie ‘The War of the Roses’ because that’s what we said was our relationship.”
After one particularly big blowout, Birkhead said Smith stopped him from walking out the door.
“She said, ‘If you go and pack, you’re going to be feeling really stupid because’… and she took my hand and she put it on her stomach, and she said, ‘Because we’re going to have a baby,'” Birkhead revealed.
The couple split up for good before the baby was born, and Birkhead was involved in a paternity battle that lasted until after Anna Nicole’s death. Smith died when her little girl was just 5-months-old. The former Playboy and Guess model lost her 20-year-old son, Daniel, to an accidental drug overdose just three days after her daughter’s birth.
Today, Birkhead and his daughter make their home in rural Kentucky and have been fixtures at the Derby for the past several years. The 10-year-old is the spitting image of her late mom, Anna Nicole Smith. Birkhead started the tradition of going to the Kentucky Derby with his daughter away to honor the annual event where he and Smith first met.
At age six, his daughter also followed in Anna Nicole’s footsteps when she made her modeling debut as a Guess Kids girl, the same denim campaign that made Smith famous back in the 1990s.
While Larry received some criticism for allowing his daughter to take on a modeling job at such a young age, the proud dad staunchly defended the move and made it clear he wasn’t exploiting his little girl.
“Dannielynn has always looked up to her mom’s image,” he told Good Morning America.”I think that this is kind of Dannielynn’s way of paying tribute to her mom in her own special way. To see her mom’s picture next to hers as a Guess girl and say, ‘Hey, I was a Guess Kids girl, my mommy was a Guess girl,’ that might be her only connection with her mom.”
Birkhead also told E! that Dannielynn is his “good luck charm” at the Kentucky Derby. Larry told the Today Show he made a conscious decision to move to Kentucky to keep his daughter away from the Hollywood spotlight. The single dad revealed that he is constantly approached by agents who want his daughter to act or model, but it sounds like the Guess gig was a one-and-done deal to honor Anna Nicole Smith.
“I think here in Kentucky is as normal as you can get. She loves school. She loves her friends,” Anna Nicole’s ex told Inside Edition of his daughter. “I just hope that she dreams big and accomplishes a lot.”
Take a look at the video below to see Birkhead talking about his relationship with Anan Nicole Smith and raising Dannielynn as a single dad.
[Featured Image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Churchill Downs]