|The Life and Death of
Anna Nicole Smith
The Entertainment eZine - Tabloids
Anna Nicole Smith Dies in Florida at 39
HOLLYWOOD, Florida. - Anna Nicole Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale _ Playboy centerfold, jeans model, bride of an octogenarian oil tycoon, reality-show subject, tragic mother _ died Thursday after collapsing at a hotel. She was 39.
She was stricken while staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and was rushed to a hospital. Edwina Johnson, chief investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, said the cause of death was under investigation and an autopsy would be done on Friday.
Just five months ago, Smith's 20-year-old son died suddenly in the Bahamas in what was believed to be a drug-related death.
Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger said a private nurse called 911 after finding Smith unresponsive in her sixth-floor room at the hotel, which is on an Indian reservation. He said Smith's bodyguard administered CPR, but she was declared dead at a hospital.
Through the '90s and into the new century, Smith was famous for being famous, a pop-culture punchline because of her up-and-down weight, her Marilyn Monroe looks, her exaggerated curves, her little-girl voice, her ditzy-blonde persona, and her over-the-top revealing outfits.
Recently, she lost a reported 69 pounds and became a spokeswoman for TrimSpa, a weight-loss supplement. On her reality show and other recent TV appearances, her speech was often slurred and she seemed out of it. Some critics said she seemed drugged-out.
Her former lawyer Lenard Leeds told the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ that Smith "always had problems with her weight going up and down, and there's no question she used alcohol." Leeds said it was no secret that "she had a very troubled life" and had "so many, many problems."
"She wanted to be like Marilyn her whole life and ironically died in a similar manner," Leeds said. Monroe died of a drug overdose at age 36 in 1962.
Her attorney Ron Rale told The Associated Press that he had talked to Smith on Tuesday or Wednesday, and she had flu symptoms and a fever and was still grieving over her son.
"Poor Anna Nicole," he said. "She's been the underdog. She's been besieged ... and she's been trying her best and nobody should have to endure what she's endured."
The Texas-born Smith was a topless dancer at strip club before she entered her photos in a search contest and made the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992. She became Playboy's playmate of the year in 1993. She was also signed to a contract with Guess jeans, appearing in TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads.
In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, owner of Great Northern Oil Co. In 1992, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $550 million.
In a 2005 interview with ABC Smith recalled meeting Marshall at what she called a "gentleman's club' in Houston. "He had no will to live and I went over to see him," she said. "He got a little twinkle in his eyes, and he asked me to dance for him. And I did."
Marshall died in 1995 at age 90, setting off a feud with Smith's former stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over whether she had a right to his estate.
A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million. That was later overturned. But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case, ruling that she deserved another day in court.
The stepson died June 20 at age 67. But the family said the court fight would continue.
She starred in her own reality TV series, "The Anna Nicole Show," in 2002-04. Cameras followed her around as she sparred with her lawyer, hung out with her personal assistant and interior decorator, and cooed at her poodle, Sugar Pie. She also appeared in movies, performing a bit part in "The Hudsucker Proxy" in 1994.
After news came of Smith's death, G. Eric Brunstad Jr., the lawyer who represented Marshall, said in a statement: "We're very shocked by the news and extend the deepest condolences to her family."
In a statement, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said: "I am very saddened to learn about Anna Nicole's passing. She was a dear friend who meant a great deal to the Playboy family and to me personally."
Smith's son, Daniel Smith, died Sept. 10 in his mother's hospital room in the Bahamas, just days after she gave birth to a daughter.
An American medical examiner hired by the family, Cyril Wecht, said he had methadone and two antidepressants in his system when he died. Low levels of the three drugs interacted to cause an accidental death, Wecht said. Last month, a Bahamas magistrate scheduled a formal inquiry into the death for March 27.
Meanwhile, the paternity of her now 5-month-old daughter remained a matter of dispute. The birth certificate lists Dannielynn's father as attorney Howard K. Stern, Smith's most recent companion. Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead was waging a legal challenge, saying he was the father.
Debra Opri, the attorney who filed his paternity suit, said Birkhead "is devastated. He is inconsolable, and we are taking steps now to protect the DNA testing of the child. The child is our No. 1 priority."
She was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on Nov. 28, 1967, in Houston, one of six children of Donald Eugene and Virgie Hart Hogan. She married Bill Smith in 1985, giving birth to Daniel before divorcing two years later.
"From my professional exposure to Anna Nicole, I can say she was always personable, down to earth and driven. All in all, a joy to have as a client," said Wayne Munroe, her Bahamian lawyer who has overseen the aftermath of her son's mysterious death in Nassau.
Anna Nicole saga takes on new twist
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A newspaper published two photographs on its front page yesterday showing Anna Nicole Smith lying in bed, fully clothed, in a romantic embrace with the Bahamian immigration minister, the man who approved her application for permanent residency.
Immigration Minister Shane Gibson had already come under criticism from the political opposition for giving the former Playboy Playmate special treatment by granting her residency in the Bahamas last year. Smith died under mysterious circumstances in Florida on Thursday.
The residency application was based on Smith's purported ownership of a waterfront mansion. But Ben Thompson, a South Carolina developer who once dated Smith, has said he had not turned over the house to Smith as a gift as her lawyers have asserted. Thompson is attempting to reclaim the house and had the locks changed over the weekend.
Smith's lawyer and companion, Howard K. Stern, had the locks changed again on Sunday and was back at the waterfront estate with Smith's five-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.
Stern is one of three men who claim to be the baby's father.
Ron Rale, a spokesperson for Stern, scrambled yesterday to control dissemination of items he said were stolen from the mansion over the weekend, including images from a computer taken from the house.
Rale said in a statement that anyone who disseminates any of the items without his prior written consent "will be held liable to the fullest extent of the law."
Two photographs published on the front page of The Tribune of Nassau show Smith and Gibson looking into each other's eyes with their faces only a few centimetres apart while lying on a bed decorated with pink flowers and a white ribbon.
The newspaper said the photographs were taken in Smith's bedroom and that it obtained the pictures Sunday from an unidentified source.
Bahamian opposition leader Hubert Ingraham said he was looking into the matter.
"I'm making some inquiries," he said.
All of Smith's personal items, including the birth certificate of Smith's daughter, had been taken from the house, Rale said.
Stern said he is trying to keep Smith's mother, Vergie Arthur, who travelled from the United States and went to the gates of the mansion Sunday, from seeing Dannielynn.
"She just despised that woman," Stern said. "As long as I have one breath left in my body that woman will not see Dannielynn."
Arthur told Good Morning America she fears for Dannielynn's safety, pointing out Stern was present when Smith's son, Daniel, 20, died under mysterious circumstances in a Bahamas hospital room while visiting his mother days after Dannielynn was born.
A coroner hired by Smith's family said Daniel died in September from a lethal combination of drugs, including methadone. An inquest into his death is scheduled to begin March 27.
"I do have a problem with her being with Howard Stern," Arthur said of the baby. "I had a daughter and I had a grandson. He was there when both of them died. Now I only have a granddaughter left, and now he has her, and I'm afraid for her."
Stern is listed on a birth certificate as Dannielynn's father. But two other men have challenged the claim. A former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, has filed a lawsuit claiming he is the father. Arthur backs that claim.
Prince Frederic von Anhalt, husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and might be the girl's father.
He said yesterday he will file a paternity challenge to gain custody of the baby, even if it costs him his marriage to Gabor.
Von Anhalt, 59, and Gabor, 90, have been married for more than 20 years. The news of her husband's alleged affair has deeply upset Gabor.
"She says, of course, `If you bring a baby home then it's over,'" von Anhalt said. "If my wife wants to divorce me, then it's up to her."
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News says a manuscript it obtained shows Smith froze the sperm of her late 90-year-old husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, before his death and may have used it to become pregnant.
Since Marshall's death in 1995, Smith had been waging a court battle over his estate. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million (U.S.), but that was later overturned. But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case, ruling that she deserved another day in court.
Experts say the decision of who receives custody could determine the child's inheritance.