Anna Nicole Smith’s Cause Of Death: How The Reality Star Lost Her Life

The life of Anna Nicole Smith is about to be explored in a new Netflix documentary. Here's what to know about how the bombshell model perished.

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Anna Nicole Smith
Image Credit: Stewart Volland/E!

  • Anna Nicole Smith was a famous model.
  • She rose to fame with bombshell ads for Guess.
  • She died suddenly in 2007.
  • Anna Nicole’s life & death are explored in the new Netflix documentary You Don’t Know Me. 

Supermodel and reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith lived and died in the spotlight. From her iconic early campaigns for Guess Jeans to her marriage to billionaire J. Howard Marshall, Anna Nicole (born Vickie Lynn Hogan) did just about everything in her adult life with all eyes on her. The platinum blonde sensation and Texas native kicked off her career as a Playboy model in the early 1990s, eventually securing a contract to become the new face of Guess Jeans, succeeding iconic ’90s supermodel Claudia Schiffer. She also appeared in films like The Hudsucker Proxy and  Naked Gun 33+13: The Final Insult. 

She was married to cook Billy Wayne Smith when both were just teenagers, but the union produced Anna’s first child, son Daniel Wayne Smith, born in 1986. After they divorced in 1993, she began dating Howard, an elderly billionaire she’d met while dancing at a strip club. They married in 1994, and just over a year later, he died at age 90.

Anna Nicole would find herself locked in a battle over her late husband’s estate that lasted for years, and ultimately ended in her estate receiving nothing from the billionaire’s storehouse. Anna went on to date photographer Larry Birkhead, and in September of 2006, she gave birth to daughter Dannielynn Birkhead. Tragically, her son Daniel died just three days later, on September 6, 2006, of a mixture of drugs.

Following tragedy after tragedy in her life, the bombshell model would be dead as well months later, in February of 2007. Here’s everything to know about Anna Nicole Smith’s cause of death.

When did Anna Nicole Smith die?

Anna Nicole Smith died on February 8, 2007, at the age of just 39. She was staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and the death came just five months after the birth of her only daughter and the death of her only son.

What was happening in her life?

Anna Nicole Smith
Stewart Volland/E!

As mentioned before, Anna Nicole was experiencing deep grief and major upheaval in her life at the time of her passing. Daniel’s death at the age of just 20 was reportedly beyond devastating to her. “Anna saw herself as both mother and father to Daniel,” former boyfriend and lawyer Howard K. Stern told PEOPLE in 2007 after her death. “From the time I met her, everything was for Daniel. I would say that physically, she died last week, but in a lot of ways, emotionally she died when Daniel died.”

Just weeks after Daniel’s death, she fled to the Bahamas and held a commitment ceremony with Stern, though they were never legally married. They were reportedly also attempting to avoid matters of questioned paternity for little Danielynn in the months before her death.

She was also still embroiled in the seemingly never-ending battle over a portion of J. Howard Marshall’s estate. The protracted effort, continued by Stern and complete with appeals, would not end until 2014 — seven years after her death.

Who was she with?

Anna Nicole Smith
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Anna Nicole’s former bodyguard, Maurice Brighthaupt (Big Moe), and his wife found the model’s lifeless body on the floor of her Florida hotel room. He and his wife, who was an emergency nurse, attempted to revive her with CPR before she was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead on arrival at 2:49 PM.

Ten years later, Maurice shared how he was still “haunted” by the harrowing experience and the loss of the bright and talented Anna. “Even though it was ten years ago, I still haven’t fully come to terms with her death,” he reportedly told The Daily Mail in 2017. “I tried my best to help her in her final days and get her medical attention but she refused it. She had a group of us around her and all we did was enable her behavior. It took me ten years to realize it but I was an enabler. We enable these stars. We enable people that have power and we think they are bigger than life but we can’t control mother nature.

“I still have dreams about that day and I am haunted by the moment I saw her slipping away.”

What was Anna Nicole Smith’s cause of death?

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole’s autopsy report was released a month later on March 26, 2007, and concluded her death to be from accidental overdose of a sedative drug called drug chloral hydrate. Combined with other legal drugs, including several benzodiazepines, along with Benadryl and Topamax.  While none of the drugs in Anna’s system were illegal, some of the drugs were prescribed to other people, including Stern.

According to Heavy, the autopsy report also stated that Anna was also reportedly struggling with, “Depression following recent delivery of term infant and recent death of adult son.”