The Truth About Anna Nicole Smith And Larry Birkhead's Relationship

It's been over a decade since the untimely death of Anna Nicole Smith. Smith is survived by her daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend and father of her child, Larry Birkhead. He raises their now teenage daughter in Kentucky, where they mostly live their lives in private.

To this day, it seems the world is still infatuated with the trials and tribulations of the model and actress. A documentary about her called "Hurricanna" is in its early stages. According to Deadline, "Hurricanna" explores the "immense hurricane-like force that was Anna Nicole Smith, and the fateful string of events that led Anna to destroy everything in her path, including herself and those closest to her."

Birkhead is also reportedly working on one himself. In 2021, he told Rolling Stone that his life's mission was to "keep Anna's memory alive in a positive way." He shared, "I am working on producing a definitive Anna Nicole documentary." He also stated, "I think Anna was misunderstood in a lot of ways. Now we are seeing stories about some of the women of Hollywood like Britney Spears, Brittany Murphy, and Anna Nicole, that got a raw deal and were really treated poorly in the press and tabloid media." He wants to celebrate Smith and tell her story in a manner that doesn't defame her character.

From the first time they met to why they didn't get married, here's the truth about Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead's relationship.

Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead hit it off right from the very start

Anna Nicole Smith met Larry Birkhead at the infamous Barnstable-Brown Gala the night before the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time, Smith was filming her reality television show, "The Anna Nicole Show," and it seems that she had her eye on him from the start. In an exclusive interview with ABC News' "20/20" in 2017, Birkhead recalled, "She's waving at me and me and blowing kisses, and I mean, she knew how to work the camera."

Not too long after, Birkhead was hired to photograph Smith at Camp Kindle, a summer camp program for kids living with HIV and AIDS that she had been working with (via the Lincoln Journal Star). Her work with the camp and Birkhead's involvement was all captured on her E! series, and it was during this time that the pair got to know one another better. While sparks flew between them quickly, their new romance was kept hidden from the public.

During the interview with "20/20," he shared, "No one ever knew one time that I was her boyfriend. The whole time we dated, if you look at all the video, I'm in the back carrying my camera bag ... she didn't want me in the spotlight."

The couple had quite a tumultuous relationship

The pair had problems throughout their romance, just like any other couple. There were many times when Larry Birkhead thought about leaving Anna Nicole Smith. In 2020, he chatted with Fox News about their romance and said, "My relationship with her was actually two years plus and we covered a lot of territory in that. There [were] a lot of ups and downs."

While filming the Lifetime series "Hopelessly in Love" (via TooFab), Birkhead discussed some of the low points. In 2005, the couple went on vacation by themselves. Unfortunately, according to Birkhead, their trip "went downhill fast." He said Smith became upset during the trip because he had hung out with one of his good friends who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Birkhead told the cameras, "I think Anna just got jealous. Anna thought it was competition."  

The pair ended up getting into an argument after Birkhead found a photo of Smith giving the middle finger on one of his cameras, and they broke up after this fight, though they wouldn't be apart for long. 

Larry Birkhead felt like he was competing with Howard K. Stern

From an outsider looking in, it would seem that Anna Nicole Smith was in a relationship with two men: her attorney, friend, and confidant Howard K. Stern and her boyfriend, Larry Birkhead. For the most part, Stern went everywhere Smith and Birkhead did. In "Hopelessly in Love," according to TooFab, Birkhead talked about the dynamics of his and Stern's relationship and said that Stern "didn't always accept the fact [he] was there." They would go back and forth with jabs, and it felt like they were "school kids competing to try to win the girl." During the series, Birkhead also told the camera that when he spoke with Smith, she would come to her lawyer's defense and say, "Shut up, that's my friend."

Birkhead claimed that Stern didn't want pictures of the couple out in public. As TooFab noted, Stern allegedly wanted paparazzi to take photos of him with Smith instead. Birkhead supposedly told Smith that he wouldn't stand for this and told the camera, "I said, 'I'm not going to be treated like this.'" Smith reportedly made sure she was pictured with Birkhead shortly afterwards.

Larry Birkhead found out about their baby after he threatened to leave her

Larry Birkhead had finally had enough of Anna Nicole Smith's allegedly controlling ways. "She wanted you there when she wanted you. We sat back and laughed at the movie 'The War of the Roses' because that's what we said was our relationship," he also said during his "20/20" interview. However, when he threatened to leave, he found out they were expecting. Birkhead went on to say, "She said, 'If you go and pack, you're going to be feeling really stupid because' ... and she took my hand and she put it on her stomach, and she said, 'Because we're going to have a baby."' 

This was the second time that Smith had become pregnant with Birkhead's baby. Unfortunately, the couple had suffered a miscarriage the year before. In an interview with CNN's Larry King on the "Larry King Live" show, Birkhead spoke about the miscarriage and about Smith becoming pregnant again. He recalled, "It was unsuccessful about a year previous before Dannielynn's birth. And she wasn't really on fertility drugs but it's something that she always wanted another child and something that we always talked about. And it was really — she has these — you know, a hope chest for years of wanting a little baby girl. And it was kind of her wish granted."

Larry Birkhead wanted to marry Anna Nicole Smith

Larry Birkhead said that, after a couple of months of dating Anna Nicole Smith, she had asked him to marry her, but he didn't feel like they were ready to take that next step. He also shared during his 2007 appearance on "Larry King Live" that he told her no when she asked because, "at that point, it would have been for the wrong reasons, you know, not knowing her and not really, you know — I wanted to make sure it was for the right reasons."

He did give her a ring when she was pregnant with their daughter, Dannielynn, though he specified that he didn't consider it a wedding ring. He told King, "She wanted a 10-carat, and I was kind of downscaling it to a 4-carat. But you know, she was on, and I was kind of going to, you know, or something, you know, something a little bit less money." 

He also stated that, had he and Smith gotten past their disagreements earlier on in their relationship, they could have gotten married and had "more of a fairy tale ending than this tragic ending."

He was reportedly left in the dark about the birth of their daughter

Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead were ecstatic about having their first child together. Birkhead's happiness, however, was put on hold because he apparently had to keep Smith's pregnancy private. She was a diet pill company spokesperson and had movie producers interested in casting her, so nobody could know she was expecting. When Birkhead appeared on "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" (via HuffPost), he told Oprah Winfrey, "She was a diet pill spokesperson, so the fact that she was pregnant was supposed to be a big secret because there's not that many markets for a pregnant diet pill spokesperson. So that created some tension."

According to ABC News, about five months into Smith's pregnancy, the couple got into yet another argument, and their last fall-out would ultimately cause Smith to pack her bags and leave. She reportedly left California and went to the Bahamas, where she stayed at a house in which she lived with her attorney, Howard K. Stern (via Today).

According to Birkhead, during this time, he and Smith weren't on the best terms, and he had no idea how her pregnancy was coming along. Birkhead told Winfrey, "I had to go onto Anna's website and pay a monthly subscription just to see how she was telling her fans how the baby was, and that's how I got my information." 

Larry Birkhead had to fight to gain custody of their child

On February 8, 2007, Anna Nicole Smith tragically died. At the time of her death, Larry Birkhead's daughter, Dannielynn, was only months old, and he had to order a paternity test because Howard K. Stern was listed on the infant's birth certificate. After the DNA test proved that Birkhead was indeed the father, he told reporters, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "I hate to be the one who told you this, but ... I told you so." He continued, "My baby's gonna be coming home pretty soon. ... It's been a long road, and I'm happy to have this behind me and to be able to start a life with my daughter."

Stern was nothing but helpful after the DNA test. He disclosed to CNN, "I am not going to fight Larry Birkhead on custody. We're going to do what we can to make sure that the best interests of Dannielynn are carried out. And I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure he gets sole custody."

Birkhead did receive sole custody of his daughter, and over the years, he has strived to give his daughter the best life possible away from the limelight.

Larry Birkhead knew Anna Nicole Smith was hurting badly

Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel (whom she had with her first husband, Billy Smith), traveled to see his mother in the Bahamas to meet his half-sister, Dannielynn. Smith was overjoyed to have her son by her side. Unfortunately, only three days after she gave birth, her life was shattered when the 20-year-old died from an accidental prescription drug overdose while lying next to her in her hospital bed (via ABC News).

With ABC News during his "20/20" interview, Larry Birkhead revealed that he had spoken with Smith on the phone a few times during that time, and he claimed she was in a bad way. He stated that Smith "would have these conversations where she would start crying," noting, "And she'd say something about Daniel, and she'd hang the phone up." He went on to allege that she tried to "climb" into her son's casket at the funeral, and he knew that she was in no condition to look after a baby.

Birkhead was trying to get Smith to come back stateside before giving birth. "My goal at the time was to try to get her to come back to the U.S. from the Bahamas, and I had almost got her to that place of saying that she would do it," he said while speaking with Fox News.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Larry Birkhead doesn't 'sugar coat' Anna Nicole Smith's life to their daughter

Larry Birkhead has always made it a point to share the good and the bad with his daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, about her mother's past. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he stated, "We go back all the time and we go to [Anna Nicole's] grave. We visit and I tell Dannielynn stories about her mom. I don't sugar coat it. I say there are some things that your mom did, and you know, I try to make her learn from it."

Larry Birkhead doesn't want his daughter to learn about his mother from the internet and be filled with lies about Smith. He makes sure that he's providing his daughter with beautiful memories and telling her the truth about her mother's past. "There is YouTube these days and that stuff's out there, and my daughter likes to Google already and I'm trying to keep her from it. She'll see things, you know, when she grows up, that [are] not necessarily all true. Was [Anna Nicole] wild? Yeah, sure. But [she was] a great lady, and a great mom," he also stated.

He believes Anna Nicole Smith 'died of a broken heart'

On February 8, 2007, at just 39 years old, Anna Nicole Smith died due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, as reported by The New York Times

Larry Birkhead feels that, between the birth of their daughter and her son's death all within three days, it was too much for the mother to bear. He opened up on "The Wendy Williams Show" in 2017 and shared (via People), "You've got to think: My daughter was born on Sept. 7, and on Sept. 10, Daniel died. So you go from that extreme high and low, and how do you process that in your mind? Although her death certificate will list a different cause — an accidental overdose — in my mind, I think she truly died of a broken heart."

Birkhead recalled the day that Smith died. He didn't receive a phone call about her death but instead heard about it on the news and thought it was actually a "PR stunt." He also talked about the Anna Nicole Smith that the public eye didn't know. Birkhead explained to the audience, "There were two different personalities ... I came to know her at some events away from the camera ... with no makeup on, just hanging out with all the kids and giving money and time [at charity events] — things that you don't hear people talk about when they talk about Anna. And that's kind of when our relationship grew."

Larry Birkhead says Anna's love is 'still alive'

On February 8, 2022, Larry Birkhead took to his Instagram page and penned an emotional letter on the anniversary of Anna Nicole Smith's death. He shared a black and white photo of himself with Smith and wrote, "Still remembering this one 15 years after her death. She was truly one of a kind." He continued, "Today, I remember your heart, your soul and your beauty, both inside and out. Your love is alive still to this day, in the form of a truly one of a kind teenager with her Mom's smile, beauty and courage. Thanks to Anna's fans for helping keep her memory alive. We love you Anna Nicole."

In a "20/20" special that aired in 2017, Birkhead went through a storage unit with all of Smith's belongings, and he packed some of her most memorable items up to show to their daughter, Dannielynn. During the episode, he reflected on Smith's life and stated, "When we talk about Anna Nicole, there were a lot of happy moments for her. There [were] a lot of highs before there [were] a lot of lows." He said, "Anna should be remembered as this larger-than-life figure that was really a caring, giving person, a beautiful lady who loved her fans and loved her family."