Anna Nicole Smith's daughter growing up in 'paparazzi-free zone,' says her dad

When Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007, the lives of her partner, Larry Birkhead, and daughter, Dannielynn, were thrown into chaos. Birkhead has spent the last six years largely keeping himself and their child out of the spotlight, but is now ready to share his side of the story, as he explained on a visit to TODAY Monday.

"It was nice to be able to tell my story in my own words, without it appearing on a Lifetime movie or the Anna Nicole opera," said Birkhead, referring to the E! special "Life After Anna Nicole: The Larry & Dannielynn Story," which airs Monday night. 

"My relationship with Anna has been misrepresented in different projects, books, and movies and things," he added.

His relationship with the model/actress, who died of combined drug intoxication with prescription medications on Feb. 8, 2007, was never a "fairy tale," he said. "It had its ups and downs ... some very highs, and very low lows."

Today, he's raising Dannielynn (who waited in TODAY's Orange Room for her dad during the interview, stroking a puppy) in his home state of Kentucky, which he calls a "paparazzi-free zone." He did allow the little girl to model in a Guess advertisement one day, noting that her mother had modeled with the company for years. But, he added, "Fifteen minutes after she was done with the Guess photo, she was back on book reports."

As for life in Kentucky, "It's a little bit more laid back," he said. "My family is there to support me and to help me with Dannielynn and so that's been a positive. I spend a lot of time with her every day. I'm being both parents, so I think that I just try to give her a good foundation and try to just be there for her at all times."

"Life After Anna Nicole: The Larry & Dannielynn Story" airs on E! at 10 p.m. on Monday.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Anna Nicole Smith

    The short, tragic life of the former Playboy playmate and model.

  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Texas teen -

    Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia (Texas) High School yearbook under the name Nikki Hart. School officials say Smith went by the name Nikki Hart during her brief tenure there.
    Reuters
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Short, tragic life -

    The cover of the June 1993 Playmate of the Year issue of Playboy magazine featured Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale -- jeans model, Playboy centerfold, widow of an octogenarian billionaire, reality-show subject, tragic mother -- died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, after collapsing at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. She was 39.
    Playboy
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    She had drive -

    Smith holds a Texas license plate that reads "PMOY 93" (Playmate of the Year).
    Time & Life Pictures
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Happy husband -

    Millionaire J. Howard Marshall II made headlines in 1994 when he married Smith. She was 26 and he was 89. He died Aug. 5, 1995, when he was 90. Smith and Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, battled over Marshall's estate. The boy next to Marshall is Smith's late son, Daniel.
    Sipa Press
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Daniel's short life -

    Smith and her son Daniel, 13, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1999. His body was found in the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. A coroner's report ruled the death was caused by an overdose of anti-depressants and methadone.
    Nick Ut / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Fighting for her share -

    Smith listens in court in Houston with her attorneys Tom Cunningham and Howard Stern on Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. Sixteen jurors, four of them alternates, were seated to hear the lawsuit where Smith laid claim to a share of the oil fortune of her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Smith married the Texas oil tycoon in 1994 and he died the following year. Stern later reportedly married Smith and claimed to be the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.
    Steve Ueckert / Pool via AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Back to work -

    Smith is surrounded by members of KISS at the conclusion of the Lane Bryant show featuring plus size fashions in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002. The legendary rock band gave a live performance throughout the runway show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week.
    Robert Mecea / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Activist -

    In this handout image from PETA, Smith poses as Marliyn Monroe for a 2004 ad campaign titled, Gentlemen Prefer Fur Free Blondes. PETA's Michael McGraw said in reaction to Smith's death, "She was a great friend to animals and used every opportunity to speak out against senseless cruelty."
    PETA via AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Hot pink -

    Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 12, 2004.
    Matthew Peyton / Getty Images
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Always outrageous -

    Smith feigns a "wardrobe malfunction" before announcing Rikku in "Final Fantasy X-2" as the Hottest Character award winner during "G-Phoria -- The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 2004.
    Jim Ruymen / Corbis
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Strange behavior -

    Smith waves during an appearance backstage during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. The production company behind the concerts claimed in a lawsuit against Trimspa Inc. that its reputation was damaged by Smith's attire and conduct. Smith, a spokesperson for Trimspa, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
    Coke Whitworth / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Wowing the Supremes -

    Smith and her lawyer Howard K. Stern leave the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2006. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Smith could continue her claim for part of her late husband's fortune.
    Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Home sweet home? -

    Smith holds her daughter Dannielyn Hope and poses with Stern and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Mark Steines at the couple's home in the Bahamas on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Businessman and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson threatened to evict Smith from her Bahamas home, claiming she wasn't making the mortgage payments.
    Entertainment Tonight via AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    No sign of trouble -

    Smith watched a boxing match from near ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2007. She died Feb. 8, 2007.
    Hans Deryk / Reuters
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    A mother mourns -

    Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, center, and her husband James Arthur, left, embrace as the coffin of Anna Nicole leaves a Bahamas church on March 2, 2007, as the former Playboy model headed to her final resting three weeks after her death. A throng of Bahamians, tourists and media crushed behind police barriers as the pink-laced white coffin was carried into the Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral in Nassau, Bahamas, for a funeral ceremony closed to all but 300 invited guests.The church was reportedly filled with pink roses, and sources close to the funeral said Smith's body was clad in a gown and tiara.
    Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Laid to rest -

    Locals stand before the grave of Smith at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 2, 2007.
    Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    'I told you so!' -

    Larry Birkhead rejoices after hearing in a Bahamian court on April 10, 2007, that he has been proven to be the legal father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn. Birkhead later hugged Howard K. Stern, who had been acting as the baby's father.
    Christine Aylen / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

    of

    Derby day with daughter -

    Birkhead and Dannielynn feed a pony at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, April 28. 2010. Birkhead, a Louisville native, first met Anna Nicole at a 2004 party around the famous horse race.
    Charlie Riedel / AP
TOP