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Anna Nicole Smith Doc Reveals New Details About Marriage to 89-Year-Old Husband

Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me premieres on Netflix on May 16.

In the past few years, a number of documentaries have been made that examine the mistreatment by the media and culture in general of famous women, including Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, Janet Jackson, and Brooke Shields. Now, the late model and reality star Anna Nicole Smith is added to that list with the upcoming Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me. The trailer for the film was released on Tuesday, and it reveals that the film (out May 16) will cover Smith's early life and her first marriage at age 17, as well as her infamous second marriage to 89-year-old billionaire J. Howard Marshall II.

When Smith and Marshall married, the couple was mocked in the media. Now, it looks as though the documentary will show another side to their story. Read on to find out more.

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Smith and Marshall married in 1994.

J. Howard Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith in a clip from the documentary
Netflix / YouTube

When she was 26 years old, Smith married Marshall, who was 89 at the time. The two had met in 1991 when the oil tycoon visited a Texas strip club when she worked. According to Interview, Smith turned down marriage proposals from Marshall over the years prior to accepting ahead of their 1994 wedding.

At the time that they got married, Smith had been modeling, including for Playboy, but it would be years until her E! reality TV show came out. Her marriage to Marshall put her very much in the public eye and she was incessantly criticized for seemingly marrying him for his money. The couple were married for just over a year before Marshall died in 1995.

Their relationship will be explored in the film.

In the trailer for Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me, an unnamed person can be heard saying of Smith and Marshall, "What impressed me was how much they loved each other."

Another clip shows Smith in a court room saying, "He was just a wonderful man that I loved deeply."

Smith wound up being involved in lengthy court proceedings following Marshall's death. She was not included in his will but claimed that he had promised her half of his estate. The case was complicated, involved multiple appeals, and eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. After Smith died in 2007, the case continued on behalf of her daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, but Smith's estate was not awarded the money when it was finally decided.

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Smith maintained that she really loved Marshall.

Anna Nicole Smith at the premiere of "Be Cool" in 2005
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Although the match seemed unlikely to outsiders, Smith said many times that she truly loved her husband. Her lawyer, Diana Marshall, told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, "He was not only her husband, he was her best friend, and he had taken care of her and provided for her every need for several years."

The lawyer went on to explain that Marshall and Smith had met before she was famous. "The important thing people miss is that this was a long-term relationship," Diana said. "J. Howard Marshall discovered Anna before Guess jeans did; he knew her before any notoriety, any word of publicity, before a single modeling contract. He fell in love with her when she was unknown to the world and they loved each other deeply, and anybody who was around him will tell you Howard really lit up when she was in the room."

Her ex said also said Smith's feelings were geniune.

Dannielynn and Larry Birkhead at the premiere of "The Smurfs 2" in 2013
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Dannielynn's father, Larry Birkhead, who Smith dated prior to her death, has also said that he believes Smith really loved Marshall.

"I think of all the people that she'd talk about the most, it would be her late husband," Larry said during a 2017 appearance on The Wendy Williams Show (via People). "The thing is that you kind of had to live up to this guy. You would roll over in bed and there was an oil painting of him over on one side. You'd roll over to the other side and there was a picture of him on the dresser. If you got into an argument with her, she would say: 'Why can't you be more like my husband?' And I'm like: 'Well, I didn't strike oil yet!'"

The documentary will dig into other aspects of her life, as well.

Daniel Smith and Anna Nicole Smith at G-Phoria The Award Show 4 Gamers in 2004
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Long before Smith married Marshall, she married her first husband, Billy Wayne Smith, in 1985 when they were both teenagers. They welcomed a son, Daniel Wayne Smith, together in 1986. Sadly, Daniel died just five months before Smith and only three days after the birth of Dannielynn.

"I got married when I was 17 years old. And I thought to myself, I'm so lonely. And I though, well, if I have a baby, I'll never be lonely again," Smith says in a clip in the trailer. Another unnamed person says, "Daniel was the reason she wanted to get out of Texas. Everything she did was for Daniel."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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