The late icon's ex opens up about their relationship in a new special.
Larry Birkhead took viewers inside his relationship with Anna Nicole Smith, who he called the "love of my life," during a new Lifetime special airing Friday night as part of its "Hopelessly In Love" docuseries.
While some of the new interviews done for the special were from the late model's close friends, it's Birkhead's testimonials that really carried the two hours, as he opened up about how their unlikely relationship developed and the crazy circus it turned into as it went on.
He also gave insight into his life with their daughter, Dannielynn, and the wild paternity case that unfolded after her birth. Throughout the special he also spoke about her ex-husband, J. Howard Marshall, his contentious relationship with Howard K. Stern and spilled on Anna's jealously.
Here are the 11 most revealing moments.
Anna and J. Howard Marshall
During the last 14 months of his life, 90-year-old businessman J. Howard Marshall was married to Smith, which led to her being labeled a "gold digger" by many. According to Larry, however, her love for him lived on after his death.
"I dated her for two and a half years and on the right side of the bed was a framed photo of J. Howard Marshall," he revealed. "Anna thought he was god like. She compared every relationship to that with J. Howard Marshall. It was a struggle."
He claimed she said their relationship was like that between a grandfather and granddaughter and she thought of him as "kind of her savior."
Larry also revealed that, long before he met her, he and his friends actually dressed up as Anna and her much-older husband for Halloween one year -- but while many considered the relationship a joke, he'd later come to believe it was "a whole different thing" for Smith. "One of the biggest misconceptions about Anna is that she's a gold digger," he added.
Anna and Larry, the Early Days
Larry first met Anna while working as a photographer at the Kentucky Derby in 2003. She told him she thought he was cute at the time, but things didn't heat up until the same event the following year. In 2004, he helped her go hat shopping for the Derby, then had Anna get handsy with him at a later event. "In my mind I thought, there's no way Anna Nicole, who could have her pick of any guy in here, is interested in me," he recalled.
She later invited him to be a photographer at her charity kids camp in Nebraska and that's where their relationship really developed. "It wasn't a red carpet event, it was more her one on one with the kids and she was a different person," he said. "This was not wild, wacky zany Anna Nicole. It's someone who had more of a purpose to them than being a punchline on television."
They had their first kiss -- which he called "surreal" -- and she left him with her phone number. "The first night I was alone with Anna, she told me she thought I was an angel sent to help her," said Birkhead.
American Music Awards Behavior
In 2004, Anna made headlines for her slurred speech while on stage at the 32nd Annual American Music Awards. Sharing some insight into what went on behind the scenes leading up to that moment, Birkhead said Smith had a seizure the night before.
"She started shaking real violently, her eyes started going into the back of her head ... for me, I was pretty scared, I didn't really know what to do," he said.
While he pled with her to cancel the appearance, she didn't want to let Kanye West -- who she was introducing -- down. "She was like, 'No, I owe it to Kanye, he put me in his video, I need to be there for him,'" said Larry.
The moment got people talking -- and, according to Birkhead, everyone started trying to book Anna for appearances because it "got so much press and publicity."
"The media used Anna and sometimes Anna used the media," he added.
Anna's Alleged Jealousy
Birkhead recalled taking a solo vacation with Anna in 2005, with no entourage. "That thing went downhill fast," he recalled, saying "Anna was mad" because he was spending time with a friend who "kind of looked like Marilyn Monroe."
"I think Anna just got jealous, Anna thought it was competition," he said, adding that she retaliated by taking a selfie showing her giving the middle finger with one of his cameras. That incident sparked a major argument.
They briefly split, then reconciled, before having another fight "over something stupid." Calling the back and forth "exhausting," Birkhead said they were going to split again, but she got pregnant.
According to Larry, this wasn't the first time she had been pregnant. Earlier in their relationship, he claimed, the two lost a child to a miscarriage. Around that time, Larry said he started to realize "she had a lot of different health conditions that she was being treated for."
"She had seizures and she would get migraines, her hands would swell, she would have back pain because of her breast implant surgery," he continued. "There was always something she would take. I questioned it early on, like, 'You're taking a lot of medicine.' She was like, 'You don't understand,' assured me everything was great, but I was still worried."
When she got pregnant again, he was once again inquisitive. "She was talking to her doctor and her doctor said, 'No, you have to stay on these medicines, if you don't you can go into a seizure and lose the baby,'" he claimed.
Birkhead claimed he was "sworn to secrecy" when Smith got pregnant.
"I couldn't say a word to anybody because the last thing she thought people wanted to see was a pregnant diet pill spokesperson," he said, noting she was the face of TrimSpa at the time and was also being offered movie roles.
"It was eating me up, we went months without being able to say anything," he said. Of course, this would all spiral out of control later, as she got closer to giving birth -- more on that in a moment.
Issues with Howard K. Stern
Howard K. Stern was Anna's longtime personal lawyer, who also happened to live with her -- something Larry said he found "strange."
When they began dating, Birkhead said Howard wasn't receptive and "didn't always accept the fact I was there." He added Howard "always felt like a competition of sorts, it was like being on The Bachelor and like who's going to get the next rose or something."
He said the two would go at each other with jabs, "like two school kids competing to try to win the girl." When he brought it up to Anna, saying he thought Howard was "obsessed" with her, he said she simply said "shut up, that's my friend."
Larry also said Howard tried to make it so paparazzi wouldn't snap photos of Anna with Birkhead in public, and would try to be photographed with her instead. "I said, 'I'm not going to be treated like this,'" Larry claimed he said after having enough -- with Anna making sure the paparazzi got the two of them together days later.
Baby Daddy Drama
When the pregnancy news broke, Larry denied he was the father in public. At the same time, he was getting into it with Howard, who accused him of leaking the baby news to the press. While they were talking about marriage and Larry even gave her a ring, they got into another big argument and she left for the Bahamas. It was the last time Larry saw her alive.
He believes they went to the Bahamas so they could say Birkhead wasn't the father and felt Anna and Howard were "trying to say I never existed." Her reaction: "It was almost scripted," said Larry, "She was like, 'I'm not coming back home and this isn't your baby. That was like a knife going through me."
According to Larry, they did continue to stay in contact up until her death.
Anna's Son Daniel
"They just had this bond, they were not mother and child, but almost brother and sister," Larry said of Anna's relationship with her late son, Daniel.
"He was just her everything. She would do anything and everything, she was really hands on," he added. "I think in her mind she wanted to be the parent she never had. Daniel and I, we hit it off really good, he was always really nice to me."
Daniel, 20, died in his mother's hospital room in the Bahamas shortly after the birth of Dannielynn. Larry, who was on the outs with Anna at the time, said when he heard the news, he thought it was his daughter who passed away.
"I got a call from a friend of my sister who lived in the Bahamas, he said Anna Nicole's kid died. I thought our baby had died," he explained. After he learned what happened, Larry said he "went into this real numbness, I was just shocked. I didn't know how to process it, I didn't know what to do. I felt helpless."
In February 2007, almost five months after Daniel's death, Anna died of an overdose in a Florida hotel room. Larry found out while watching TV in his dentist's office.
"I was in denial about it, I said, 'I think I can fix this, I think I can fix this. I want to get on a plane, I can fix this,'" he remembered thinking.
The funeral was held in the Bahamas in March. "It was sad, just to see her laying there. She had a pink dress on, a tiara," he said. "We were all asked to write, if we wanted to, something to put in the casket. I told her in the note I was going to take care of our daughter and I listed some of the things we did, the fun times, some of the songs we listened to and I just poured it all out. Put the note in the casket, they lowered the casket down and that was it."
The paternity war "turned into a circus" after Anna's death, said Birkhead, with Stern and a number of other men claiming they were Dannielynn's real father. Eventually, Stern began easing up on Larry and allowed him to see the baby girl as DNA results loomed.
"She was six months old, she was so cute, she smiled ear to ear when she saw me," said Larry of that meeting. "For a second, everything I went through was worth it."
DNA proved Birkhead was Dannielynn's dad and he brought her back to Kentucky, where they live to this day. "You think about what it would be like if her mom was here to share in it," he said of his daughter's accomplishments, which include being on the Honor Roll.
"My reward at the end of the day is seeing my daughter growing into this beautiful young lady," he said, explaining that he tells Dannielynn about all the positive things her mother did in her life, like her charity work with children and animals.
In a cute moment, the special showed Larry telling Dannielynn that her mother wanted to name her "Cherry Pie" at first, but he talked her out of it. He also said that if love doesn't come his way again, "I'm okay with that."
Larry and Dannielynn still make annual appearances at the Kentucky Derby -- see how she's grown in the gallery below!