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  • Anna Nicole Smith | Polydrug Overdose Death

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    Anna Nicole Smith | Polydrug Overdose Death

    Anna Nicole Smith is remembered as a remarkable, if controversial, American model, actress, and personality. Marked by a variety of personal struggles, Smith’s life would ultimately come to an end in 2007 at age 37 as a result of a combination prescription drug overdose.

    How Anna Nicole Smith Died

    In February 2007, Smith was found unconscious in a hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Despite receiving prompt CPR and advanced medical care, she was pronounced dead sometime after.

    The Broward County medical examiner ruled her cause of death to be accidental combined drug intoxication involving nine misused prescription drugs, primarily the powerful sedative drug chloral hydrate. No use of illegal drugs was evidenced.

    Speculation & Custody Battle

    Smith’s death sparked a whirlwind of speculation as well as a custody battle to determine who was the father of her infant daughter, Dannielynn. 

    Howard K. Stern, her ex-boyfriend/photographer Larry Birkhead, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, and her former bodyguard and chef Alexander Denk were all possible candidates.

    DNA tests later confirmed that Birkhead was the biological father, and he was granted full custody with Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter’s name formally changed to Dannielynn Birkhead.

    About Anna Nicole Smith

    Smith was born as Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28, 1967, in Houston, Texas. 

    As with many who eventually become dependent on drugs or alcohol, she had a turbulent childhood, growing up without a father and dropping out of high school in 1984 to get married at age 17. Her son, Daniel, was born a year later and she divorced in 1993.

    Playboy, Stripping, & Acting

    Building on a blonde bombshell image that was often compared to Marilyn Monroe, Smith took up modeling and stripping. She posed for Playboy magazine in March, 1992, under her new professional name, Anna Nicole Smith, and became the 1993 Playmate of the Year.

    She also performed at a strip club in Houston, Texas, where she met the billionaire J. Howard Marshall, an 89-year-old oil tycoon (63 years her senior) with whom she would strike up a relationship.

    The Playboy playmate was selected to be the face of the Guess jeans brand, and appeared on several magazine covers, television shows, and even the 1994 films The Hudsucker Proxy and The Naked Gun 3 1/3 (among others). 

    From 2002 to 2004, she also starred in her own self-titled reality show, The Anna Nicole Show.

    Marriage & Controversy

    In 1994, Smith married the billionaire, Marshall, in a flashy ceremony that drew media attention and widespread allegations of gold-digging. 

    Within a year Marshall died at the age of 90, kicking off a long-running legal battle over Marshall’s estate which was valued at more than a billion and a half dollars.

    Smith claimed that her late husband had promised her half of the estate, despite this claim not being substantiated in Marshall’s will. 

    The battle would go on for more than a decade and would reach the Supreme Court twice before ultimately being decided against Smith’s estate in 2011, after her death.

    Following Marshall’s death, Smith would also strike up a series of tumultuous relationships and affairs that continued until her death.

    Behavioral Health & Mental Health

    While little known by the public, those in Smith’s private life understood that she faced long-running struggles with mental and behavioral health issues. 

    These issues would only be exacerbated by the pressures of public life and personal tragedies, especially the 2006 accidental drug overdose death of her 20-year-old-son Daniel in her hospital room in the Bahamas while visiting her and her newborn daughter, Dannielynn.

    According to her then-partner, Howard Stern, Smith’s son’s death (involving antidepressants and methadone) was devastating as Daniel was, without question, the most important person in her life. Stern is reported as saying, “emotionally, she died when Daniel died.”

    Prescription Drug Abuse

    Like her son, Smith also chronically abused prescription drugs, including methadone, painkillers, antidepressants, and sedatives, alongside alcohol and marijuana. 

    She also struggled with anxiety and depression, would attempt suicide on multiple occasions, and had reportedly been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

    Smith’s weight and body image would also fluctuate over the years, shifting from voluptuous to obese and back with the benefit of potentially dangerous weight loss pills that she herself marketed.

    Recovery Is Possible

    In the new Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me and a variety of other memorials and media, Anna Nicole Smith’s complex and controversial legacy lives on. 

    And, in her quiet struggles and tragic death, she highlights the importance of seeking out effective mental health support and addiction recovery treatment before it’s too late.

    If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health struggles or drug/alcohol abuse, recovery is possible and you are not alone. To learn how we can help, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
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