From starring on The Anna Nicole Show on the E! network, to appearing in an early Kanye West music video, to rocking her wedding dress at her husband’s funeral (and who could forget “TrimSpa, baby!”), Anna Nicole Smith’s life was certainly full of surprises, and she was definitely always keeping Us on our toes. On Friday, February 10, 20/20‘s Anna Nicole Smith: Beauty Lost offered a look back at the late supermodel, hearing from Larry Birkhead and seeing their daughter, Dannielynn, as an (almost) average 10-year-old in Kentucky.
A Rocky Start
Smith — who died in February 2007 at age 39 from a drug overdose — announced her pregnancy to the world via home video. She eventually gave birth in the Bahamas — the father, Birkhead, was absent, but a camera crew captured the momentous event. Smith eventually sold the footage to Entertainment Tonight for $1 million, and that was how Birkhead witnessed Smith give birth to their daughter.
While visiting Smith (and his new half sister) in the Bahamas, Smith’s son from her first marriage, Daniel, died of an accidental overdose while sleeping next to his mom. Birkhead recalled at Daniel’s funeral that Anna tried to climb into the casket, and she told friends she saw clouds that were in the shape of her son.
“Same Side, Same Page”
Even after a long legal battle (ended by a paternity test confirming Birkhead as Dannielynn’s father), the two sides — Larry Birkhead vs. Howard K. Stern — are currently on the same team. “Same side, same page,” Birkhead described it. Not long after the paternity test results were released, Stern jumped in, helping Birkhead with changing diapers, bathing and feeding, and graciously handling the day-to-day of Dannielynn’s routine. Birkhead said Stern was supportive of him moving Dannielynn to Kentucky, and always wanted to keep the transition as smooth as possible.
“It’s Her Dealing With It in Her Own Way, at Her Own Pace”
Besides her stint as a child Guess model (which Birkhead described as a one-time thing and something to share with her mom), Dannielynn lives the closest thing to a normal 10-year-old’s life as Birkhead can provide for her. She wants to set up her dad with a nice girl (her choice? Nicki Minaj!); she dreams of visiting Washington, D.C., to see the monuments; and she’s obsessed with Snapchat (it’s the only social media platform Birkhead allows her to use). Birkhead described Dannielynn as “fearless, like her mom. She’ll get on any roller coaster that you put in front of her.”
Dannielynn loves to draw butterflies, something that means way more than meets the eye. A family friend told the girl that Smith would send butterflies to chase her around, so Dannielynn lets the butterfly come out of her pencil and fly on the paper with its “wings of love.”
“Keep Things Simple”
Birkhead is now on his own journey — beginning a new chapter and turning a new leaf. He has completely redecorated his home, and is no longer surrounded by Anna memorabilia. Everything has been cleaned out and moved into storage. The only thing he wasn’t able to allow himself to put away are the clothes Smith once picked out for a daughter, long before Dannielynn was even a reality.
“Anna always wanted a little girl — that was her dream,” he said. “She went from city to city, as far back as the ’90s, and she would collect outfits from all these road trips … and hope that one day she could dress her in all these frilly outfits.” He keeps them all in Dannielynn’s closet, as a nod to Smith’s memory.
Larry summed up his entire experience with, “Keep things simple — be careful who is around you. You can always shoot for the stars, but you don’t have to be a star to shoot for them.”
20/20 airs on ABC Fridays at 10 p.m. ET.
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