On Feb. 8, 2007, the world said goodbye to model and actress Anna Nicole Smith.
At the age of 39, the mother of two was found unresponsive and pronounced dead from a drug overdose in her Hollywood, Fla., Hard Rock Hotel room. In her four decades of life, Smith was married three times and garnered fame for appearing in Playboy, accruing numerous acting credits and mothering two children: a 20-year-old son she buried and infant daughter that laid the model to rest.
Texas-born Smith — real name Vickie Lynn Hogan — said “I do” to her first husband, Billy Wayne Smith, in the mid-eighties. Less than a year after marrying, Smith gave birth to her son Daniel Wayne Smith and separated from Billy in 1987. The teen mother moved to Houston and began stripping before responding to a Playboy newspaper ad.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner took notice of the single mother and featured her on the March 1992 cover, which propelled Smith’s name as a sultry model that opened the door to a few modeling and ad campaigns down the road, including TrimSpa, Lane Bryant and Guess. Following her 1992 feature, Smith went on to win Playmate of the Year in 1993.
Smith engaged in an affair in 1991 with wealthy Texan J. Howard Marshall during her stripping days in Houston and divorced Billy in 1993 to marry the oiler. Marshall died a year after marrying Smith. After his death, Smith went to court in pursuit of Marshall’s estate, with the model claiming he verbally promised her a portion. The case, now dubbed Stern v. Marshall (Howard K. Stern was Smith’s attorney and lover), continued after Smith’s death and ultimately went in the favor of Marshall’s son, E. Pierce Marshall.
The former Playmate pursued acting following her stripping days and was cast in various minor parts, but her recognition as an actress diminished after her leading role in the 1995 film To the Limit bombed at the box office. E! network offered Smith a reality show, which aired in 2002 as The Anna Nicole Smith Show. Though initially scoring high ratings, the show fell in viewership and was canceled after two seasons.
The blonde continued to gain public attention through a series of live TV events, including the 2004 AMAs and 2005 MTV Australian VMAs, in which audiences and the media questioned if she was under the influence of drugs because of her slurred speech and demeanor.
In 2006, Smith announced that she was pregnant with a daughter and gave birth on Sept. 7, 2006 to Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern in the Bahamas. Larry Birkhead, an entertainment photographer who had a short-lived relationship with Smith, went to court to prove that he fathered the infant child despite claims from numerous men, including Stern, that they could be Dannielynn’s father. Birkhead was later deemed the biological father after DNA tests following Anna Nicole’s death proved the genetics, and his daughter took on the name Dannielynn Hope Marshall Birkhead.
Six months before Smith died, her 20-year-old son Daniel overdosed on drugs in the Bahamas and was buried six weeks after two autopsies had been performed. A short three weeks following his death, Smith pledged her verbal, but not legal, commitment to Stern in a ceremony in the Bahamas.
Smith ventured back to the States following her son’s death and questionable residency in the Bahamas.
The Playmate was found in a Seminole Hard Rock Hotel room by her friend, Tasma Brighthaupt, who tried to administer CPR, but the attempt was unsuccessful. After weeks of investigation, Smith’s autopsy eventually proved that she died of intoxication with combined toxic/lethal drugs, therapeutic drugs and non-contributory drugs; none of the drugs found in the model’s system were illegal. Stern came under fire on 11 counts following the model’s death for obtaining drugs for Smith. He was dismissed on two counts by an LA Superior Court judge, but the California Supreme Court ruled in Nov. 2014 that he could be retried on the two conspiracy charges.
On Mar. 2, 2007, Smith was buried next to her son Daniel’s grave in the Bahamas.
Following Smith’s death, Birkhead went to court on behalf of daughter Dannielynn and the Marshall estate, but in Aug. 2014, a federal judge squashed the father’s attempt at winning sanctions from the late oiler’s family.
Dannielynn is currently being raised by her father and is following in the footsteps of her mother. The eight-year-old debuted in 2012 as the face for Guess kids.