'Final 24': Did Anna Nicole Smith marry for money? Inside the Playboy model's tragic life, scandals and death

Smith met 86-year old petroleum tycoon J Howard Marshall in 1991 while performing at a Houston strip club and she divorced her husband to marry him

                            'Final 24': Did Anna Nicole Smith marry for money? Inside the Playboy model's tragic life, scandals and death
Anna Nicole Smith (Getty Images)

Model, actress and television personality Anna Nicole Smith dropped out of high school at 14 and first gained recognition when she became the face of Playboy magazine after winning the title of 1993 Playmate of the Year. From Guess to H&M, she modeled for big brands and starred in a couple of reality shows.

Smith's marital life was marred by controversies. At 17, she locked eyes with cook Billy Wayne Smith while she was working at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken in Mexia. The couple got married on April 4, 1985, and gave birth to a son, Daniel Wayne Smith. Reportedly, Smith met 86-year old petroleum tycoon J Howard Marshall in 1991 while performing at a Houston strip club and he showered her with expensive gifts. Apparently, the two had an affair when he asked her to marry him.

Anna divorced her husband on February 3, 1993, and by the next year, she got hitched to Marshall in Houston. Soon, her marriage sparked scandalous rumors that she got married only for his money, and 13 months after the two got married, Marshall died at the age of 90. Following his death, Smith got embroiled in a lengthy legal battle over a share of his estate, which he had orally promised to her.  

Model Anna Nicole Smith (Getty Images)

While she battled for Marshall’s son to get control of his estate, her name was never included in the will and she never gained control of his massive fortune. Much later, in 2006, she was pregnant and made a public announcement after all the chatter online. "Let me stop all the rumors," she said, adding, "Yes, I am pregnant. I'm happy, I'm very, very happy about it. Everything's goin' really, really good and I'll be checking in and out periodically on the web, and I'll let you see me as I'm growing." She soon became mother to her daughter, Dannielynn Hope.

There was much controversy around the father of the baby as her longtime personal attorney, Howard K Stern, said that he and Smith had been in a relationship for "a very long time" and photographer Larry Birkhead too claimed to be the baby's father. Moreover, Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel Wayne Smith, died on September 10, 2006, in his mother's hospital room while visiting her and her baby. Reports said he died due to an overdose of drugs, including methadone and antidepressants. "Daniel was without question the most important person in Anna's life," Stern said in his testimony, adding, "At Daniel's funeral, she had them open the coffin and tried to climb inside."

Smith too was said to be addicted to prescription medications and in 2006, a psychiatrist met Smith and said that she had a borderline personality disorder. In 2007, she died in her Florida hotel room in room 607. Smith's bodyguard and his wife rushed to her help minutes before her death and performed CPR. At 2.10 pm, Smith was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival at 2.49 pm. 

Photographer Larry Birkhead and daughter Dannielynn Birkhead (Getty Images)

After a seven-week investigation led by Broward County Medical Examiner and forensic pathologist Joshua Perper, the death was ruled to be a cause of "combined drug intoxication" with sleeping pills as the "major component". Her death was not due to homicide, suicide or natural causes. Just before her death, she was into much press coverage around the death of her son and the paternity custody of her daughter, which ended with Birkhead getting sole custody. 

Her love story with Birkhead was featured in a Lifetime documentary much later and he confessed that the last message she sent him was: "She said, 'Don’t fall in love again'... And then she had a crying face and then she signed off. That’s the last time I spoke to her."

'Final 24' premieres on Wednesday, June 17, at 9 pm. ET/6 pm PT on AXS TV. More weekly episodes will feature the lives of several other iconic celebrities like Jim Morrison, Gianna Versace, John Belushi and others.

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