Anna Nicole Smith's Mother Blames Drugs - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/9/07

Anna Nicole Smith's Mother Blames Drugs

The mother of former Playboy playmate and model Anna Nicole Smith blamed drugs Friday for her daughter's sudden death that ended an extraordinary tabloid life at just 39.

"I think she had too many drugs, just like Danny (Smith's late son)," her mother, Vergie Arthur, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday. "I tried to warn her about drugs and the people that she hung around with. She didn't listen."

"She was too drugged up," Arthur said. "By the last interview I saw of her, she was so wasted."

Smith's attorney, Ron Rale, said the one-time reality TV star had been ill for several days with a fever and was still depressed over the death five months ago of her 20-year-old son from what a private medical examiner determined was a combination of methadone and two antidepressants.

On Thursday, authorities say, a private nurse found Smith unconscious in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and called 911. A bodyguard performed CPR, Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger said, but Smith was declared dead at a hospital.

Later Thursday, two sheriff's deputies carried out at least eight brown paper bags sealed with red evidence tape from Smith's hotel room.

Edwina Johnson, chief investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, said the cause of death was under investigation and an autopsy was under way Friday morning.

If Smith died of natural causes, the findings will likely be announced quickly, but definitive results could take weeks, Dr. Joshua Perper, who was performing the autopsy, said Thursday.

"I am not a prophet, and I cannot tell you before the autopsy what I am going to find," he said.

Smith's son's death in the Bahamas on Dec. 10 came just a few days after she gave birth to a daughter, Dannielynn, whose custody remains in dispute.

The birth certificate lists Dannielynn's father as attorney Howard K. Stern, Smith's most recent companion, who Rale said was with Smith at the hotel and was too choked up to talk when he called Rale with the news. Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead is waging a legal challenge, saying he is the father.

A hearing was scheduled in Los Angeles on Friday at which lawyers were expected to discuss an emergency motion filed by Birkhead's attorney seeking DNA from Smith's body, her attorney Rale said. The reasons for the motion were not immediately clear, but an attorney for Stern, James T. Neavitt, was frustrated.

"There's no question about her being the mother," he said. "So what's the purpose of the DNA testing? Why do they need her DNA?"

Debra Opri, the attorney who filed Birkhead's paternity suit, said only that doctors told her to get a DNA sample, declining to elaborate.

She said Birkhead was devastated. "He is inconsolable, and we are taking steps now to protect the DNA testing of the child. The child is our No. 1 priority," she said.

The baby was being cared for in the Bahamas by the mother of Shane Gibson, the Bahamian immigration minister who is a close friend of Smith's, People magazine reported on its Web site, citing unidentified sources.

A visibly shaken Gibson declined comment as he was leaving his office Thursday night, and he has not responded to several message left by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Through the '90s and into the 21st century, Smith was famous for being famous, a pop-culture punchline because of her up-and-down weight, her Marilyn Monroe looks, her exaggerated curves, her little-girl voice, her ditzy-blonde persona and her over-the-top revealing outfits.

Recently, she lost a reported 69 pounds and became a spokeswoman for TrimSpa, a weight-loss supplement. In recent TV appearances, her speech was often slurred and she seemed out of it. Some critics said she seemed drugged-out.

"Undoubtedly it will be found at the end of the day that drugs featured in her death as they did in the death of poor Daniel," said Michael Scott, a former attorney for Smith in the Bahamas.

Rale said he had talked to her on Tuesday or Wednesday, and she had flu symptoms and a fever and was still grieving over her son. He dismissed claims her death was related to drugs as "a bunch of nonsense."

"Poor Anna Nicole," he said. "She's been the underdog. She's been besieged ... and she's been trying her best and nobody should have to endure what she's endured."

The Texas-born Smith was a topless dancer at a strip club before she made the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992. She became Playboy's playmate of the year in 1993. She was also signed to a contract with Guess jeans, appearing in TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads.

In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, owner of Great Northern Oil Co. After his death the following year, she engaged in a protracted legal fight with her former stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over whether she had a right to the estate.

A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million. That was later overturned. But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case, ruling that she deserved another day in court.

The stepson died June 20 at age 67, but the family said the court fight would continue.

Smith starred in her own reality TV series, "The Anna Nicole Show," in 2002-04. She also appeared in movies, performing a bit part in "The Hudsucker Proxy" in 1994.

Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on Nov. 28, 1967, in Houston, one of six children. Her parents split up when she was a toddler, and she was raised by her mother, a deputy sheriff.

She dropped out after 11th grade after she was expelled for fighting, and worked as a waitress and then a cook at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant in Mexia.

She married 16-year-old fry cook Bill Smith in 1985, giving birth to Daniel before divorcing two years later.

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles and Associated Press Writers Sarah Larimer in Hollywood, Fla., and Ana Beatriz Cholo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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