It’s been ten years since Anna Nicole Smith was found dead, on February 8, 2007, at her hotel in Hollywood, Florida. According to the medical examiner, she had accidentally overdosed on at least nine prescription drugs. She was 39 years old.
Her life had been a roller-coaster of ecstatic highs and tragic lows: Anna went from high school dropout to becoming a stripper turned Playmate turned actress, world-famous model, and billionaire’s wife. But she also suffered through drug abuse, lawsuits, and the death of her beloved 20-year-old son Daniel.
Born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Mexia, Texas, on November 28, 1967, Anna was a small-town girl with dreams of becoming Marilyn Monroe.
As a teenager, Anna worked at a local fried-chicken restaurant and married cook Billy Smith when she was only 17 years old. She gave birth to their son Daniel in 1984, but the pair later divorced.
After a stint working at Walmart, she began dancing at a Houston strip club. In 1991, she met her elderly sugar daddy suitor, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II.
In 1992, Anna mailed photos of herself naked to Playboy, and was picked to pose for Hugh Hefner’s magazine. This led to appearing in ads for the Guess fashion brand later that same year, showing off her buxom blonde curves in the iconic commercials.
The following year, Smith was named Playmate of the Year and snagged small but memorable roles in cop comedy Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and The Hudsucker Proxy with Tim Robbins and Paul Newman.
Anna married the 89-year-old Marshall in 1994, when she was 26. The massive age difference led to tabloid rumors that Anna was only after his money, which she denied.
When Marshall died in 1995, she claimed that her late husband had promised her a share of his estate, but he had not put her in his will. She spent years fighting his son, E. Pierce Marshall, in a complicated and bitter court case.
The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, and the court’s decision opened the door for Anna to collect money from the estate — but the case was not settled before her death.
In 2002, she appeared in her own reality series, The Anna Nicole Show, where viewers often commented on her bizarre behavior and slurred words as she told her son and staff to “bring me doughnut holes and chocolate milk.”
Rumors of her reported drug use began to intensify.
Life seemed to take a happier turn when Anna announced that she was pregnant during the summer of 2006, and gave birth to a daughter, Dannielyn, on September 7, 2006, at a hospital in Nassau, Bahamas.
But three days later, tragedy struck again when her 20-year-old son Daniel died from an apparent drug overdose. Friends said Anna never recovered from the loss. Her ex-boyfriend Mark Hatten said Anna died of “a broken heart” after Daniel’s death. “When I heard Daniel died I knew she wouldn’t last long. I’ve seen people pamper their kids but he was literally her world, he told In Touch.
According to a detailed autopsy report released later, Anna had a 105-degree fever before her death but refused to go to the hospital — instead choosing to hole up in her hotel room with pill bottles, soda cans, SlimFast, nicotine gum, and an open box of Tamiflu tablets.
Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper found that Anna had been taking large amounts of the seldom prescribed sedative chloral hydrate, which also contributed to the 1962 overdose death of Marilyn Monroe.
Anna stated that her attorney, Howard K. Stern, was the child’s father. But she was embroiled with a paternity suit with her ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, who was later proven to be Dannielynn’s father.
Today Dannielyn lives with Birkhead in Kentucky. He told the Today Show that she has had offers to model and act, but he focuses on making sure she leads a normal life. “I’m not the best dad — I have my faults — but I do the best I can with what the situation is. We make the best of it, and I think Dannielynn’s best days are still to come,” he said.
“She’s got such a bright future in front of her, and I try every day to keep a little bit of the memory alive of her mom.”
Main photo: Anna Nicole Smith [Anna Nicole Smith Facebook]