But the budding star managed to snag a coveted deal with weight-loss programme TrimSpa, allowing her to shed her excess weight and even further increase her star-power, something that was cemented when E! Entertainment created her very own reality show in 2002. Enter Larry Birkhead, a shy yet good-looking Louisville photojournalist who was the man on the job when the Anna Nicole show rolled into town to film the model’s attendance at the Derby’s annual ball and reception.
Time to tell his side of their story
When asked why he chose this opportunity to talk about their ill-fated relationship after so many years, he responds in his soft southern accent that although he’s had numerous requests for interviews and tell-alls over the years, he thought it was finally time to tell his side of the story: “Because most people thought Anna fell pregnant on a random one-night-stand, that I lucked out on some genetic lottery,” he ruefully states.
In fact, the two had been in a relationship for just under two years – with Birkhead’s role in her life kept from the public in order to preserve the star’s available, hot-bombshell image, but also because Smith had lingering trust issues and was reluctant about appearing in public with a committed boyfriend. Birkhead moved to Los Angeles to live with Smith but the relationship was, in Birkhead’s words “challenging and tumultuous” right from the start.
Living with Anna Nicole
To start with, Smith’s lawyer and friend Howard K. Stern was also living with the starlet in her LA home, something which made it quite uncomfortable for Birkhead at times. Stern was later implicated in providing Smith with the over 10 different prescription medications, most in his name, which contributed to the overdose that killed her. “She also had severe paranoia from what she went through in the court case,” Birkhead continues. “She constantly thought she was being followed and that her phone calls were being traced.” Smith was also incredibly jealous, and what was supposed to be a happy vacation and meet-up with many of Birkhead’s friends and family back in Louisville, ended abruptly when Smith accused Birkhead of flirting with a blonde Marilyn Monroe lookalike. “That [trip] went downhill fast,” he admits.
But the couple shared many happy times as well. Birkhead reveals that Smith was actually quite a homebody, and in between big public appearances they could be at home for two months at a time. Time would be divided between jumping on the indoor trampoline in her living room and competitive painting. “She loved painting, everything from cartoons to self-portraits, and was always very competitive. We’d paint and then have the others [in the house] come in and judge our work. She always won, though it might have been because it was her house,” he laughs. He goes on to share about the one time he did outdo her with a Wonder Woman piece that won the general vote, but her competitive nature and sense of humour saw her scrawl “Don’t come back” over his masterpiece. “I didn’t paint that much after that anymore,” he laughs.
On what one single special moment stood out for him during their time together, he touches on the one time when Smith broke her own protocol and showed the press and fans that he was the one for her while out at a public event. While attending a New Year’s Eve event at a Las Vegas night club, he was sitting at their table while Anna Nicole was on stage for the big count-down. “As everyone shouted, ‘Happy New Year!’ she suddenly jumped off the stage, ran over to me and kissed me – I was not expecting that at all because she was very guarded and it was hard for her to trust, so it meant a lot to me.”