Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy playmate who gained fame for her bombshell looks, notorious marriage to an elderly billionaire, bizarre personality and the recent tragedy involving the death of her son, has died. She was 39.
Smith collapsed at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on Thursday afternoon and died at the Memorial Regional Hospital a couple hours later, report news sources.
"I am very saddened to learn about Anna Nicole's passing," says Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. "She was a dear friend who meant a great deal to the Playboy family and to me personally. My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Smith, nee Vickie Lynn Hogan, was born Nov. 28, 1967 in Houston, Texas to Donald Eugene and Virgie Hart Hogan.
Smith started her career in the spotlight as a topless dancer and then became a model for Guess Jeans. In 1993, she was named Playmate of the Year.
She had a son, Daniel Wayne Smith, by her first husband, Bill Smith, whom she divorced two years later. Smith was only 26 when she married her second husband, 80-year-old Texas oilman Howard Marshall II. After Marshall's 1995 death, the legal battle commenced. Smith claimed that her husband had promised to take care of her while Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall claimed he was the sole heir. The battle went back and forth and was finally ruled in Smith's favor to pursue the tycoon's riches. The younger Marshall died in June 2006.
Fans were introduced to the strange workings of her private life on the E! reality program "The Anna Nicole Show," but her life seemed to get even more fascinating after the show went off the air.
Last year, she announced that she was pregnant to much fanfare. She gave birth to a girl, Dannie Lynn Hope, on Sept. 7 in the Bahamas. Three days later, Smith's son Daniel died under mysterious circumstances. According to pathologist Cyril Wecht, the young man died of a lethal dose of methadone and antidepressants, which caused cardiac dysrhythmia.
Shortly afterwards, Smith's lawyer Howard K. Stern announced that he was Dannie Lynn's father. The couple later held a commitment ceremony in the Bahamas aboard a boat. Smith's ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead claims that he's the baby's father. Recently, a judge ordered the blonde to bring her 5-month-old daughter back to the states for DNA testing to settle the paternity issue.
Just this week, Smith and TrimSpa, for which she's a spokesperson, were named in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the marketing for its weight loss product was false or misleading.