From the Miami Herald Archives: Anna Nicole Smith's sudden death at the age of 39 ended her notorious path through the celebrity stratosphere. Smith's life was punctuated with tremendous ambition and tawdry, tragic scandals. She died of an overdose 10 years ago, on Feb. 8, 2007, in Room 607 at the Hard Rock resort in South Broward. Here are the reports of her death, published in the Miami Herald on Feb. 9 and 10, 2007.
Anna Nicole Smith — Playboy centerfold, billionaire's widow, tabloid favorite, new mom — died Thursday after her private nurse found her unconscious at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
An autopsy will be conducted this morning, according to the Broward County medical examiner.
Smith's sudden death at the age of 39 ended her notorious path through the celebrity stratosphere. Smith's life was punctuated with tremendous ambition and tawdry, tragic scandals. She died just five months after the Sept. 7 birth of her daughter, Dannielynn, and the drug overdose death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel. The former reality-TV star was embroiled in a number of lawsuits and controversies. Just days ago, a California judge ordered her to submit to a DNA test by Feb. 21 to determine Dannielynn's paternity.
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Smith was famous for being infamous, for her over-the-top ways and revealing clothing. On her reality show and other recent TV appearances, her speech often was slurred and she seemed out of it.
"Undoubtedly, it will be found at the end of the day that drugs featured in her death as they did in the death of poor . . . Daniel, " a former attorney for Smith in the Bahamas, Michael Scott, told The Associated Press.
Smith had checked into the Hard Rock on Monday and planned to check out today, said Michael Bloom, Hard Rock spokesman. According to Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger, she had a nurse and a bodyguard with her, as well as her lawyer-turned-companion Howard K. Stern.
It was the nurse who called Hard Rock officials to report Smith unconscious in room 607 and the bodyguard who initially administered CPR. An hour after she was reported unconscious, Smith was pronounced dead at Memorial Regional Hospital.
Stern, who was not with Smith when she was found unconscious, could not be reached in the hours after Smith's death. Dannielynn was not with the couple, Bloom said.
Tiger said the death was not being treated as a crime, though crime scene investigators spent hours in the sixth-floor hotel room. At about 8 p.m., Broward Sheriff's Office investigators left the hotel carrying several brown bags.
Smith parlayed her buxom, blond beauty into magazine-cover frontage and front-page tabloid news — albeit often for sordid or tragic reasons. She was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on Nov. 28, 1967, in Houston. At 17, she married Billy Wayne Smith, a 16-year-old cook at the restaurant at which she waitressed. They had one child, Daniel, then divorced in '93.
Smith became an exotic dancer who found national fame when she appeared on the cover of Playboy looking like her role model, Marilyn Monroe. Two issues later, she was the magazine's centerfold. In '93, she was Playmate of the Year.
She was the face and body of Guess? jeans and the cover girl for New York's White Trash Nation issue in '94.
That was the year she became tabloid fodder, after the 26-year-old model married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall III. They never lived together and 14 months later, he died. Smith was poised to inherit a fortune. Instead, her stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, claimed she was only a golddigger.
In 1995, Smith began a nearly 12-year legal battle over his fortune. While Marshall did not include Smith in his will, she argued he intended to provide for her and initially won a $474 million judgment, which eventually was reduced to zero before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. That court said in May that only federal courts in California could deal with her case despite a Texas state court ruling that E. Pierce, who died last year, was sole heir to the estate.
Smith had minor film roles beginning in '94. In 2002 she starred in her own reality show on E! A heavy-set, seemingly drug-addled Smith was seen lounging on her couch, often asking her son and assistant to "bring me doughnut holes and chocolate milk." The Anna Nicole Show lasted two seasons.
A year later, a trim and slim Smith emerged as a spokeswoman for diet supplement TrimSpa, which she claimed helped her lose 69 pounds. "Like my body? It's TrimSpa, baby!" was all she said in the commercial, which showed her in a bathing suit, again showcasing her double-D measurements.
Smith gave birth to Dannielynn on Sept. 7, 2006, in Nassau; Stern is listed on her birth certificate as the father. Three days later, Daniel was found dead in her hospital room. Officials later said that the 20-year-old had died of a cardiac dysrhythmia caused by a lethal combination of methadone, Zoloft and Lexapro. Three weeks later, Smith and Stern held a commitment ceremony. Almost immediately after, Smith's ex-lover, photographer Larry Birkhead, filed suit seeking a DNA test, saying he was Dannielynn's 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."
Daniel's death had sent Smith into another personal tailspin. In recent appearances on entertainment shows, she was gaunt and spacey.
Just last week, three Los Angeles women filed suit against Smith and the company she represented, TrimSpa Inc., accusing the company and its spokeswoman of using deceptive business practices to peddle the weight-loss supplement and of violating California's unfair competition law.
Smith's own fluctuating weight over the years often was documented and mocked. But Larry King remembered the tragic beauty fondly on CNN's The Situation Room: "There was always a special thing about her, even when they spoofed her on Saturday Night Live -- she could easily be made fun of, " King told Wolf Blitzer. "There was also a genuineness about her. She was an extraordinarily pretty girl."
Buddy Morton, owner of Passion nightclub in the Hard Rock complex, said Smith was partying at his club in July 2005: "She was an amazing lady -- a lot of fun. She stayed late at the club into the wee hours and was drinking and having a blast. She was laughing, flashing [her breasts at] people. She was very cordial and very beautiful. She really made our club that night."
Smith's was the third death at the Hard Rock since it opened in '04. Brian Osorio, 22, bled to death Jan. 14 after falling down and cutting his arm near the casino. Another man died in 2005 after he fell into traffic during a fistfight near the hotel.
In the minutes after Smith's death, The Bad Ass Coffee Company in the Seminole Paradise complex had its flat screen TV tuned to the news.
"People are asking about it, then when I tell them it happened here, they are shocked, " said Frankie Conde, as he placed black and white cookies in the display case. "No one knows anything about it, though. We didn't even know she was here."
‘IT’S A PUZZLE’
A day after Anna Nicole Smith's death, two central questions remain: What killed the former Playmate? And who's the father of her 5-month-old daughter, who could stand to inherit a fortune worth hundreds of millions?
Police found prescription drugs — and no evidence of a crime — in the hotel room where Smith's nurse discovered her unconscious Thursday, Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger said at a press conference Friday.
At the press conference, Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said Smith might have died of natural causes, medication or a combination of the two. The six-hour autopsy revealed no signs of trauma, and the cause of death won't be known for three to five weeks, pending toxicology tests.
"It's a medical puzzle which we have to resolve, " Perper said.
Smith's appearance shocked law enforcement officers. Her body had numerous scars and tattoos, a source told The Miami Herald, and her hair had been cut to shoulder length.
As the autopsy was under way, a third man came forward claiming to be the father of baby Dannielynn: Prince Frederick von Anhalt, 59, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. He joins Smith's companion, Howard K. Stern, and her ex-lover, Larry Birkhead, in claiming to have fathered Dannielynn. Birkhead has filed suit to determine the child's paternity, while Stern is named as the father on the infant's birth certificate.
Anhalt told The Associated Press on Friday that he and Smith had a 10-year affair.
"If you go back from September, she wasn't with one of those guys, she was with me, " Anhalt said in his first public comments about the subject.
Smith, who died after being found unconscious in a two-bedroom suite at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Thursday afternoon, may have met the same fate as her son, who died Sept. 10 of an overdose of antidepressants and methadone.
More details of Smith's alleged drug use emerged in an interview with her mother Friday on “ABC's Good Morning America.”
"I think she had too many drugs, just like Danny, " Smith's mother, Vergie Arthur said, referring to her late grandson. "I tried to warn her about drugs and the people that she hung around with. She didn't listen."
She added: "She was too drugged up. By the last interview I saw of her, she was so wasted."
Julianne Carelli, Hard Rock spokeswoman, said Smith told hotel staff she was sick when she checked in at 8 p.m. Monday. Perper said he was told that Smith had some kind of stomach flu. No intact pills were found in Smith's stomach, he added. At the press conference, Tiger declined to offer details on what medications were found in Smith's room or to whom the medications were prescribed.
The Seminole police department, created in 1981, is on the reservation and therefore not subject to Florida's public records laws, meaning they do not have to disclose any information — such as police reports or 911 tapes -- to the public.
A California judge ruled Friday that Smith's body will not be released until a paternity hearing, scheduled for Feb. 20, is held. Debra Opri, the attorney representing Birkhead in the suit, requested the body be "preserved" to prevent any chance of a "bait and switch" of Smith's DNA.
The former reality-TV star was embroiled in a number of suits and controversies, including the one over Dannielynn's paternity.
Most famously, Smith fought a lengthy legal battle over the fortune of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall, who died in 1995 at age 90. At various points over the 12-year fight, she was awarded between $89 million and $474 million. The case climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and is now pending in a California court.
Last week, three Los Angeles women filed suit against Smith and TrimSpa, the manufacturer of the diet supplements she credited for losing 69 pounds, accusing the company and its spokeswoman of using deceptive business practices. On Friday, the company turned its website into a memorial to Smith.
And in the newest legal twist, Anhalt said Friday he will file a lawsuit if custody of Dannielynn is granted to Stern, or to Birkhead.
Smith parlayed her Marilyn Monroe-esque looks, kittenish vamps and voluptuous figure into a full-time career of sorts. She became an exotic dancer who found national fame when she was on the cover of Playboy, and had minor film roles beginning in 1994. In 2002, she starred in her own reality show on E! The Anna Nicole Show lasted two seasons.
Smith gave birth to Dannielynn on Sept. 7 in Nassau. Three days later, her son Daniel was found dead in Smith's hospital room. According to her attorneys, she was still grieving his loss at the time of her own death.
Three weeks after Daniel's death, Smith and Stern held a commitment ceremony in the Bahamas. Almost immediately following, Smith's ex-lover, photographer Larry Birkhead, filed suit seeking a DNA test, claiming he was Dannielynn's father.
Smith's lawyer Ron Rale said Stern is devastated.
"I should already be in Florida. I talked to Howard and I have never heard him like that. He needs his friends and family. . . . I am a little worried [about him], " Rale said in a televised interview. "Howard loved Anna dearly."