Anna Nicole Smith, originally known as Vickie Lynn Hogan, gained recognition as an American actress, model, and television personality. Her notable achievements include her successful modeling career in Playboy magazine, where she secured the title of Playmate of the Year in 1993. However, Anna Nicole is perhaps best known for the highly publicized legal battle that ensued following the passing of her husband, J. Howard Marshall, and her own tragic death in February 2007.
Born Vickie Lynn Hogan, Anna Nicole adopted her stage name as she ventured into the modeling industry. The surname “Smith” came from her first marriage to Billy Smith. Over time, Anna Nicole’s personal life and relationships garnered significant media attention, leading her to become somewhat infamous.
Accused of marrying solely for wealth, Anna Nicole Smith faced familial challenges
One of Anna Nicole’s most controversial episodes involved allegations that her marriage to Marshall was solely motivated by his wealth. This accusation sparked a contentious legal dispute between Anna Nicole and Marshall’s family over the inheritance of his substantial fortune after his demise. Anna Nicole asserted that Marshall had promised her half of his estate, but his family intervened, preventing any changes to the will.
The case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court, which initially ruled in Anna Nicole’s favor. However, subsequent legal action led to another hearing before the Supreme Court, resulting in a loss for Anna Nicole.
Another high-profile case involving Anna Nicole and her family was the paternity dispute concerning her daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead. At the time of Anna Nicole’s passing, Dannielynn was just five months old. Now sixteen years old, Dannielynn has grown up with her own life. Discover more about Anna Nicole’s life and witness the striking resemblance between her and her daughter as you delve further into their story.
Who was Anna Nicole Smith before her fame?
Born on November 28, 1967, in Houston, Texas, Anna Nicole Smith entered the world as the only child of Donald Eugene Hogan and Virgie Mae Tabers. However, she had five half-siblings from her father’s side. Growing up, Anna Nicole was primarily raised by her mother and aunt. During her ninth-grade year, she relocated to Mexia, Texas, to reside with her maternal aunt.
Life in Mexia proved challenging for Anna Nicole, as she struggled academically and eventually dropped out of high school before completing her sophomore year. Larry Birkhead, the father of her daughter, shared with ABC News, “I remember when I dated Anna Nicole, and she’d always talk about Mexia, Texas. She always wanted to get out of there.”
ABC News had the opportunity to interview Jo McLemore, Anna Nicole’s childhood best friend, who shed light on their shared experiences. McLemore revealed that Anna Nicole faced misery and bullying during her time at school in Mexia. After enduring numerous struggles in her life, McLemore believes Anna Nicole reached a breaking point and decided to leave school.
Recalling their younger days, McLemore mentioned that she and Anna Nicole would often spend time together on the side of the road in town, as there were limited entertainment options. With a hint of humor, McLemore added, “There was nothing else to do here. There’s no movie theaters. I mean, there wasn’t Starbucks or anything. Basically, the main place to eat was Krispy’s.” Krispy’s, officially known as Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken, was the sole restaurant in town and where Anna Nicole found employment after her departure from school.
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Married young, she knew little of the world and what lays ahead
During her employment at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken, Anna Nicole Smith crossed paths with Billy, a fry cook, whom she would marry in 1985 at the tender age of 17. In the interview, McLemore reflected on their early years, “Billy was also a high school dropout. They were so young. He was 16. She was 17. She had her first child, Daniel, at 18.” Their son, Daniel Wayne Smith, came into the world in January 1986.
According to ABC News, by the time Anna Nicole turned 19, she found herself raising her son alone as his father was no longer in the picture. This spurred her to seek additional sources of income. However, her options were scarce lacking a degree and possessing limited job experience. Anna Nicole made the decision to pursue a career as a dancer at a strip club, aiming to support her family financially.
During her time as a dancer, a friend of Anna Nicole’s submitted her photos to Playboy magazine. Shortly thereafter, she was hired as a model for the publication. In March 1992, she graced the cover while still using the name Vickie Lynn Smith. Subsequently, she adopted the stage name Anna Nicole Smith to establish a clear distinction between her personal and professional personas.
Frankie Rodriguez, another close friend of Anna Nicole, shared insights with ABC News following her passing. He revealed that she seemed to embody two distinct identities: “There was Vickie Lynn and Anna Nicole Smith. Any kind of camera, you just yelled out her name, ‘Anna Nicole.’ When she turned around, it was on the spot; you saw Anna Nicole.”
So who exactly was Vickie Lynn?
Rodriguez provided further insight, stating, “The minute that camera left, it was a whole other person. She was back to Vickie Lynn.” He expressed his gratitude for having had the opportunity to meet and get to know Vickie Lynn, acknowledging her ability to captivate audiences with her actions.
All of Anna Nicole’s friends hold her in high regard, emphasizing that she remained an ordinary girl at heart despite her extraordinary life.
While Anna Nicole appeared reserved and timid at times, her vivacious and outgoing personality contributed to her success as a model. Following her debut in Playboy, Anna Nicole ventured into modeling for prominent brands such as Guess, H&M, Marie Claire, and GQ magazines. The photographers at Guess recognized her striking resemblance to actress Jayne Mansfield and arranged photoshoots inspired by Mansfield to showcase her beauty.
Although her modeling career flourished, Anna Nicole’s foray into acting did not achieve the same level of success. In 1994, she had roles in the comedy film “The Hudsucker Proxy” and “Naked Gun 33+1⁄3: The Final Insult.” Although these films garnered positive publicity for Anna Nicole, they did not propel her into a thriving acting career.
In the early 2000s, Anna Nicole starred in her own reality show, “The Anna Nicole Show,” which aired on the E! Network. The series provided a glimpse into Anna Nicole’s daily life, featuring her interactions with her son Daniel Wayne and her boyfriend and attorney, Howard K. Stern. The show achieved the highest ratings for a reality show on cable in 2002.
Marriage was on the table for Anna Nicole Smith yet again
The couple exchanged vows in Houston, Texas, in June 1994 when Marshall was 89 years old. Despite swirling rumors surrounding her intentions, Anna Nicole consistently expressed her deep love for him. McLemore shared with ABC News, “She would call him her sugar booger and sweetheart and all that. They needed each other, in ways that people didn’t fully understand, and they simply took care of each other.”
Tragically, Marshall passed away in August 1995 at the age of 90. Anna Nicole was overcome with devastation upon receiving the news, breaking down in tears. According to one of her close friends interviewed, “It was never about the money, and she loved this man. She would sit close to him with her legs on the couch over him. And he would laugh, and they were as happy and connected as any two individuals could be.”
However, after her husband’s loss and the subsequent legal battle, Anna Nicole would face even greater tragedy. Just five days after the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn, her son Daniel tragically passed away from a drug overdose. Daniel had visited his mother and newborn sister at the hospital and fell asleep beside her but never woke up. He was only 20 years old, and his death was ruled accidental, leading to no charges being filed.
These heartbreaking events unfolded in New Providence, the Bahamas, where Anna Nicole had relocated during the late stages of her pregnancy. Speculation arose that her move to the Bahamas was driven by the desire to evade a mandatory paternity test for Dannielynn due to the controversy surrounding the identity of the birth father.
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So who was the real father?
Stern initially claimed to be the father of the baby, while photographer Larry Birkhead insisted it must be him, considering the timing of his relationship with Anna Nicole. ABC News reported that others speculated the possibility of Anna Nicole’s bodyguard and chef, Alexander Denk, being the child’s father.
Tragically, less than a year after her son’s passing and just five months after Dannielynn’s birth, Anna Nicole died from a drug overdose. Birkhead took legal action to establish his paternity, and a US judge ordered a DNA test to be conducted. However, the request to obtain a DNA sample from Anna Nicole’s body was denied.
In April 2007, two months following Anna Nicole’s death, the Bahamian court system ruled that Birkhead was Dannielynn’s father. Stern did not pursue any further legal action, and since then, Birkhead has raised Dannielynn in Louisville, Kentucky.
At only one year old, Dannielynn underwent corrective eye surgery due to being diagnosed with lazy eye. Birkhead expressed his apprehensions about the procedure, given the losses he had experienced with Anna Nicole, Daniel, and his father, who passed away following a routine surgery. However, with the support of other parents, he recognized that his daughter was in the care of skilled doctors. Prior to the surgery, he reassured that Dannielynn was progressing well, surpassing milestones, and getting ready for the procedure.
Now, at the age of 16, Dannielynn continues to grow and bear a striking resemblance to her beautiful mother, capturing her essence with each passing year
Birkhead revealed that he first met Anna Nicole at the Kentucky Derby in 2003 and has been returning every year since. He brought Dannielynn with him, and he told Fox News that the Derby has become a growth chart for his daughter, who he usually keeps away from public events.
Birkhead shared photos of him and his daughter attending the 2023 event, where Dannielynn wore a top featuring photos of her mother’s Guess shoots and jewelry. A close-up photo of her face revealed her striking resemblance to Anna Nicole.
On Derby day, Dannielynn wore a beautiful sunflower-themed gown, more of her mother’s jewelry, and her hair was perfectly curled. A clip also showed Dannielynn playing Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” on the guitar for Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi, who sat beside her.
Fans were thrilled to see the resemblance between Dannielynn and her mother, with some commenting that she is the spitting image of Anna Nicole. Birkhead himself acknowledged their similarities, saying that when Dannielynn is dressed up, she reminds him of her mother.