Anna Nicole Smith was known for her celebrity style as Playmate of the Year in the 90s and as a fashion modeling icon. However, by 2007, some corners of the press had raved about her character to such an extent that they could hardly respect her career after she died of an accidental overdose at the age of 39.
Earlier, Larry Birkhead — the father of Smith’s daughter, Danielle Birkhead — spoke about the more private side of the star. Why did they say ’93 Playmate of the Year was like a “split personality” when they knew her? And how did the press get him wrong?
Larry Birkhead fights for custody of Daniellene
Unfortunately, Smith’s name found little peace in the press even after his death. This was partly due to a custody battle over Daniellene, who died months after her mother. Birkhead and Howard K. Stern both claimed to be her father.
Stern was a longtime friend and business associate of Smith. He was often featured in his reality shows. Otherwise their relationship was sometimes a bit difficult to read.
They held a commitment ceremony in September 2006, shortly after Daniellein’s birth and her son Daniel’s death. Stern was listed in Danielle’s birth certificate as her father. He said that he and Smith planned to marry – legally – but he died before he could.
But Birkhead contested custody and was eventually proven to be Daniellein’s father. Somewhat surprisingly, he said that Stern was there to help him adjust to becoming a new father after his victory.
Larry Birkhead: Anna Nicole Smith was ‘a completely different’ person off camera
Smith and Birkhead met when he said she was “on top of her game again.” Notably, she was shooting for her reality show, Anna Nicole Show.
According to him, Smith was not the same person on and off camera. “It was almost like a split personality,” explained Burkehead. ABC News in 2017.
He recalled the time he spent at a camp for children with HIV that was meant for his show – when he was “taken in” by the star for the first time. She apparently stayed with the kids for eight days and offered a much less glamorized version of herself.
When Smith was on camera, he said, “She was more to me, an act, than a real person, who she was.” He added that she was “an entirely different thing” on camera.
Their relationship had its ups and downs at times, but according to him the love was real. He said that he always believed that he was Danielle’s father, although other men made similar claims. He reportedly told her that the pregnancy came from their relationship, and she trusted that it was true.
After a fight, Birkhead said that Smith left for the Bahamas with Stern. But they kept in touch, and they said she never recovered from her son’s death.
Larry Birkhead: Anna Nicole Smith was heartbroken after her son’s death
Smith gave birth to Daniellein in September 2007, and Danielle died of an overdose three days later. Birkhead shared how the star was inconsolable after the death of her only son.
“She would have these conversations where she would start crying,” reveals Birkhead. He added that “she’ll say something about Daniel, and she’ll hang up.” He noted that Smith had even tried to climb into his son’s coffin during his funeral.
Five months after Daniel’s death and seemingly still stricken with grief, Smith also died of an accidental overdose. She had been taking several prescription drugs in the days before her death, some of which had dangerous effects when taken together.
Birkhead said Smith suffered from a variety of ailments, but admitted that he didn’t think he had always followed labeled instructions when taking the drug. Smith made public remarks about how she was once in a coma following an overdose, but some media outlets fail to consider what may have led to speculation of harm on her sobriety.
Like pop star Britney Spears, Smith’s character was scathingly discredited by major press outlets. A New York Times writer suggested that he had no “claims” to back up his fame—and that was only a few days after his death. But from what Birkhead described, they were hardly seeing the true side of the star.
More than 14 years later, GUESS is introducing a collection that is a tribute to Smith’s time as a GUESS girl—and a callback to the reason she first captivated the public.
HBO ‘Euphoria’ Star Sidney Sweeney’s Guess Campaign Honors This ’90s Bombshell