Stern's sister says Smith had been ill

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The sister of Howard K. Stern said Monday that Anna Nicole Smith's partner was not with the former Playboy playmate when she died but knew that she was very sick on the day that she died.

Stern's older sister, Bonnie, recently traveled from her Beverly Hills home to the Bahamas to be with the 38-year-old California lawyer who says he is the father of Smith's baby.

She said that her brother told her Smith was running a fever of 105 degrees and that a nurse was "icing her down" earlier that day at the Florida hotel where she was staying.

"When he left her, she was sleeping," Bonnie Stern said.

She said that he had tried to get Smith to visit a doctor but Smith had refused because she was afraid that it would garner publicity. When news reached him that Smith was dead, she said, he had been gone only for about two hours.

"They had plans to get a yacht and to buy an engagement ring. They were going to get married Feb. 27. It was going to be a real marriage," she said.

Smith died Thursday after collapsing in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

Asked what she thought caused Smith's death, Bonnie Stern said: "Her immunity was so low. She was so depressed. She kept getting sick and her body just probably broke down."

Bonnie Stern said that when she arrived in Florida to see her brother, he was sick with bronchitis and was running a high fever and required medical attention.

"He does not know what happened to her. She was really sick," she said.

Asked about the relationship between her brother and Smith, Bonnie Stern said that he met her in 1996 when she was referred to his law firm and he soon became her personal attorney.

"He started doing her legal work and then he became her confidant. They became best friends and then he fell in love with her," she said.

She said that her brother told her that Smith never met Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Frederic von Anhalt, who said he might be the father of her child.

"It's nauseating," she said. "She didn't even know him."

As for Larry Birkhead, the man who claims that he might be the father of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn, she said: "Larry Birkhead was not her boyfriend. There were times of some intimacy."

She said that her brother resents Birkhead's efforts to prove that he is the father of Dannielynn, and she said her brother will not submit the baby to a DNA test because he feels, "Why should he do anything for Larry Birkhead?"

She said her brother told her that Smith did have a will and that he is the executor.

She said that the original will left everything to her son, Daniel, who subsequently died, and her brother believes that the baby will inherit all of Smith's estate.

"That's why she's the golden child," said Bonnie. "Everyone wants the money."

Bonnie Stern, who has a business bookkeeping company, has retained Hollywood publicist and author Michael Levine, who is also a crisis manager, to advise her.

Levine said in a phone interview that he knew Howard K. Stern about 12 years ago when, as a young lawyer, he occupied offices on the same floor of a building where Levine had his offices.

"He was hitting me up for clients," said Levine who recalled that Stern had a law partner and both of them were always dressed casually in jeans, not the usual attire of lawyers.

"Then he started bringing Anna into our offices for press conferences. He used our conference room," Levine said. "He seemed to be a young hustling kid who was excited about her. And then he lost his objectivity when he began to realize the fame he would bring to her would make him famous as well."

Levine said he has not been in touch with the attorney in recent years.
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