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Anna Nicole Smith's fight for late husband's billionaire fortune years after death

Darcy Rafter August 3, 2022
Anna Nicole Smith's fight for late husband's billionaire fortune years after death
Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images


Anna Nicole Smith went from rags to riches but when she was left out of her late husband’s will she spent decades trying to inherit his fortune, even after both his and her death.

Anna Nicole Smith’s 15-year-old daughter Dannielynn has recently been seen hanging out at a Janet Jackson concert with her father Larry Birkhead, as seen in images shared on Birkhead’s Instagram.

The rare snap of Anna’s lookalike daughter has led fans to reminisce about the late star, so let’s look back on her life.

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Who is Anna Nicole Smith?

Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28, 1967, in Houston, Texas. Growing up, she worked many jobs including roles at Walmart, Red Lobster, and Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant.

While working at the chicken restaurant Anna met fry cook Billy Wayne Smith and they hit it off right away. She married him aged 17 and they had a child when she was 18. The pair separated a year later and she became a stripper at a club in Houston to support their son, Daniel.

In 1991, Anna met an elderly man named J Howard Marshall II when he came into her club. He was a billionaire thanks to his investment in Koch Industries and was looking for a new companion. His wife had passed away and an exotic dancer named Lady Diane Walker, who he had dated for ten years, also died in 1991 following complications from a facelift, as per LA Times.

Smith eventually quit her job at the strip club and pursued her relationship with Marshall. Three years later, in 1994, Smith established her modeling career and appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992. She gained sudden popularity and was even awarded Playmate of the Year in 1993.

Smith also landed modeling contracts with Guess Jeans and H&M. Not to forget her appearance in a range of movies such as Naked Gun 33 & A Third, To The Limit and Skyscraper. Along with starring in her own reality show The Anna Nicole Show on E!

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Smith tried to inherit her late husband’s fortune

Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage

In 1994 Smith married J Howard Marshall II, who was 89 years old at the time while she was 26. Tragically, the Texas oil tycoon died 13 months later and, when Anna wasn’t named in Marshall’s will, she found herself in a legal battle fighting for a portion of his fortune.

Marshall’s death triggered years of court battles between Smith and Marshall’s son, Pierce. They went to court debating his remains and each held separate funerals. Then, Smith decided to sue Pierce for a share of the estate, as per ABC.

The case went on for more than a decade and eventually reached the Supreme Court, CNN reports. In 2006, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled for Anna Nicole, allowing her to continue her claim she was entitled to Marshall’s money in federal court.

However, in a tragic turn of events, just a month after the Supreme Court decision, Pierce passed away and, six months later, so did Anna Nicole Smith.

The battle didn’t stop there, though, and the case was ongoing even seven years after Smith’s death. However, the estate of Anna Nicole Smith ultimately failed in its final bid to obtain her late husband’s money, as per Forbes.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Anna Nicole’s estate was entitled to nothing from J Howard’s estate and, as the case has already been to the US Supreme Court, it’s unlikely proceedings will ever be revisited.

Anna Nicole Smith’s tragic final years

After her late husband’s death, Smith spiralled into a dark period of her life. She was getting treatment for substance abuse and was legally prescribed a variety of medicines to help cure migraines, stomach problems, seizures, and back pain that came from her breast augmentation, as per ABC.

However, she found love again when she met Larry Birkhead at a charity event and the pair began dating. Smith soon fell pregnant with her second child and on September 7, 2006 she gave birth to their daughter, Danielynn.

Just three days later, she was joined in the hospital by her son, Daniel, who slept by her side as she recovered from giving birth. Tragically, when Smith awoke she realised her son had died next to her aged just 20. Daniel’s cause of death was determined to be an accidental drug overdose on September 10, 2006, according to reports.

Just five months later, the 39-year-old model died of an accidental drug overdose on February 8, 2007. Nicole was found unconscious in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, as per The Sun.

An autopsy revealed she had at least nine prescription drugs in her body including a combination of sleeping medication chloral hydrate, Benadryl, and three benzodiazepines – Clonazepam, Lorazepam and Diazepam.

Her death was ruled by medical examiners to be a result of “combined drug intoxication”, according to a Today report, written in 2007.

If you’ve been affected by this story you can contact American Addiction Centers on (877) 686-7688 or Talk To Frank on 0300 123 6600 in the UK.

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.