The court awarded Anna Nicole Smith a multimillion-dollar fortune in 2000. But it was only the start of Marshall’s family feud

When the inheritance lawsuit involving Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter was first brought before the court, only a few would have predicted the twists and turns or how long it would take.

Anna Nicole Smith started her career as a Playboy model and went on to become an actress. She worked at Krispy Fried Chicken, where she met and dated the fry cook at the restaurant, Billy Smith, and after a while, they got married.

Anna Nicole Smith at the Video Software Dealers Association Convention in Las Vegas in 1993 | Photo: Getty Images

Also a high school dropout, Billy was 16 years old at the time, and Anna was a year older. It was from this union she got the surname “Smith.” The couple had a child together named Daniel Smith when Anna was 18 years old. However, their relationship did not last, and Anna left her son with her mom to move to Houston a year later.

Anna Nicole Smith’s Personal Life
Anna was born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Houston, Texas. She reportedly had a challenging time growing up as her mother was very strict. When Anna was 15 years old, she was sent to live with her Aunt in Mexia, a town of around 7000 people, located in Texas. She attended Mexia High School before eventually dropping out when she was in the 10th grade.

She reportedly felt miserable while attending Mexia High because she was constantly bullied. Anna would, at the time, order a large drink at Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant, looking sad. It did not take long before 17-year-old Anna got a job at the restaurant.

She left Mexia for Houston when she was 19 years old in 1986. With no high school degree or work skills, she had to settle for a job at Walmart and Red Lobster. When that was not enough, she began working as a dancer at a strip club in Houston.

Meeting Howard Marshall II
While working as a dancer, Anna started undergoing breast augmentation surgeries to enhance her figure, and it did not take long before she made a name for herself. Howard Marshall II was a billionaire from his investment in Koch Industries. After his wife died, he started a relationship with Lady Walker, an exotic dancer. They were together for ten years before she also tragically died.

Anna Nicole Smith receiving the Big Makeover Award during the VH1 Big in 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

Howard, 86 years old at the time, reportedly had no will to live when he walked into the strip club Anna was working at in 1991. He asked her to dance for him after she walked over to where he was sitting.

He invited her to lunch the next day, and soon after, bought her a ranch, expensive jewelry, and a Mercedes, and he paid for her to have more breast augmentation surgeries. The billionaire reportedly asked Anna to marry him multiple times, even trying once at a Red Lobster restaurant, but she refused. Anna supposedly wanted to make something of herself.

Her dream came true when she was named Playmate of the Year by Playboy Magazine in 1993 after appearing in their magazines multiple times. She also started modeling after she signed with a Hollywood talent agency.

Howard, then 89, and Anna, 24, finally tied the knot in 1994 after years of the oil tycoon asking for her to marry him. Her son Daniel was the ring bearer at the ceremony.

Howard Marshall’s Death
Six months into the marriage, Howard fell ill and landed in the hospital. Around this time, his son Pierce was given power of attorney, and the billionaire’s caregiver Betty Morgan was named his legal guardian.

According to the doctor’s orders, Anna was allowed only thirty minutes per visit to see him, and his family financially cut her off. The situation left her sad and heartbroken. In 1995, without adding her to his will, Howard was declared dead while a devastated Anna was in New York, a year after their marriage.

Inheritance Battle
Together with Anna, Howard’s younger son Howard III took Prce, Howard’s older son, to court, contesting the will. His father had disinherited Howard III before his death.

Anna Nicole Smith on the set of Kanye West's Video "Workout Plan" at North Hills Gym in North Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Pierce vowed never to let Anna’s hands on the estate, believing she only married his father for money. The Texas probate court initially ruled in favor of Pierce, denying Anna and Howard III from receiving any share of the late billionaire’s estate.

While the Texas case was going on, Anna subsequently filed for bankruptcy in a Federal court in California. She accused Pierce of tampering with her potential inheritance.

The Federal court ruled in Anna’s favor and awarded her a sum of $474 million. This ruling was then taken to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. At the Court of Appeals, it was adjudged that a federal bankruptcy court had no right to hear the case since the lawsuit had been previously decided at the Texas probate court.

This conflict of court rulings resulted in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and decide if a federal court in California had jurisdiction over a Texas probate matter.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 ruled in favor of Anna, adjudging that she was allowed to continue arguing in court for her share of the inheritance since she was entitled to it. Six months after this ruling, Pierce died.

Anna Nicole Smith’s Death
After her husband’s death, with the addition of the court battle and the media scrutiny that came with it, Anna’s career started to struggle. She parted ways with her modeling agency and agent, William Morris, and was also suffering and getting treatment for drug abuse.

Anna had prescriptions for many ailments ranging from stomach pain to back pain from breast implants to migraines and seizures. The media were also scrutinizing the reason she was gaining weight.

She stepped away from media attention and, with the help of the weight loss brand, TrimSpa, lost around 69 pounds. These changes reportedly rejuvenated her. She also started dating photographer Larry Birkhead, whom she met in Louisville, Kentucky, at a children’s camp charity event. Soon after they met, Larry moved in with her.

Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern backstage at the 32nd Annual American Music Awards in 2004, Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

It was around this time that Anna became pregnant. Things got worse between her and Larry, which prompted her to move to the Bahamas with Howard K. Stern, her manager and publicist.

She gave birth to her daughter Dannielynn, on September 7, 2006. Two days after giving birth, Anna’s older son Daniel, visited her in the hospital as she recovered. Birkhead revealed that Anna had always wanted to have a baby girl. She collected outfits from all around the world and hoped to pass them down to her daughter.

Anna woke up to discover her son, who presumably laid down asleep next to her, had died. His death was ruled to be from a drug overdose. He had taken a drug called Zoloft because he was worried about his flight.

After her son’s death, Anna met Brigitte Neven and King Eric Gibson, a local couple who took people out fishing in the Bahamas. She was very close to them and found peace going out in their boat.

She loved it so much that she decided to buy a boat and eventually found one in Florida. She was given a vitamin B12 shot and a shot of human growth hormone in her left side before picking up the boat with her manager, Howard.

During the flight, her left side started hurting her, and by the time they landed, she was very ill with a fever of 105 degrees. She was urged to visit the hospital but refused.

Anna allegedly did not want the media attention it would generate. She became sicker over the next few days at the hotel, and after Howard left to check the boat they came to buy, Anna died in her room.

Her death was later ruled to be from an accidental drug overdose, presumably the ones she took after she fell ill at the hotel. She reportedly did not know how lethal the combination of drugs in her system was.

Paternity Drama Surrounding Anna Nicole Smith’s Baby
Anna’s death started a paternity drama. On her birth certificate, Howard, her manager, was named as Dannielynn’s father, while her ex-boyfriend, Alexander Denk, also said the child belonged to him.

Larry Birkhead with his daughter Dannielynn | Source: Youtube.com/ABC News

Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, the fourth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, declared he might also be the father. But after a DNA test, Larry was proclaimed to be the biological father in a Bahamas courtroom.

Howard and Larry had a public back-and-forth about Dannielynn. Both believed they were her father, but Howard was certain because of the timing that the model’s daughter was born. However, Larry revealed that he knew he was her biological father because he had been to a few doctor’s appointments with Anna before they had a disagreement.
Still, Howard thought the timing of it all was suspicious. He believed that if Larry was certain about being the father, then he should have handled the situation better. When the paternity results finally confirmed he was the father, Larry said, “I hate to tell you things, but I told you so. ”

Dannielynn was only five months old when her mother died, and soon after the paternity declaration, Howard said he would not fight for custody.

Inheritance Verdict
In 2014, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter dismissed the case by Anna’s estate against the Marshall estate. The decision ended the case, which had been in court for almost 20 years. When Marshall died, his estate was estimated at about $1.6 billion.

Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn Birkhead in Las Vegas in 2010 | Source: Getty Images

Since leaving the entire estate to his son Pierce, Anna’s legal team tried to find ways to overturn the will. The case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. At one point, it looked like Dannielynn could inherit $50 million in damages.

But in 2013, the judge declared Birkhead’s lawyers failed to provide enough evidence of actual damages for him to be awarded the sanctions they sought.

Carter, in his ruling, accused the Marshall estate of destroying and forging documents, trying to manipulate a sitting federal judge as well as willfully disobeying court orders.

During the special, Larry admitted that Dannielynn knew her mother was famous, and she would be painting her fingernails and taking her shopping if she was still alive. The father said he also tried to tell his daughter about Anna’s past and how she died.

The father and daughter were seen again in 2019 after Birkhead posted a photo of them at the Kentucky Derby, where he and Smith had first met. Larry mentioned that sometimes he and Dannielynn could look like twins, but then fans will point out how much she is a spitting image of her mother.

Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn Birkhead in Louisville, Kentucky for the 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in 2014 | Source: Getty Images

Occasionally giving interviews, Larry claimed companies had contacted him to have Dannielynn model for them but that she was not interested in becoming a celebrity like her mother. Although she might not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps, the photographer, said, “She is fearless like her mom.”

In 2012, Dannielynn participated in a special campaign to honor her mother: a Guess Kids Campaign to celebrate her mother’s work with the company. It was a way for her to get closer and pay tribute to her mom, as explained by Larry.

Since Anna was famous, Larry said people assumed his daughter had inherited a lot of money, but he confessed that he had not received anything from Anna’s estate. “People think [Dannielynn] has got millions and millions of dollars. She came home and asked me where the money was, and I said, ‘I’m still looking for it,” he reiterated.

After all the ups and downs, Larry is determined to give his daughter a different life from the one Anna lived.