The brother of Howard K. Stern, the man Anna Nicole Smith listed as the father of her infant daughter on the birth certificate, says that Stern will devote his life to the child's well-being.
"My brother loves Dannielynn. I know my brother and Anna Nicole had an intimate relationship. I believe in my heart of hearts that Howard is the father of Dannielynn," Gary Stern told TODAY's Meredith Vieira in an exclusive interview Wednesday morning.
"Dannielynn is really what remains of Anna Nicole, as far as my brother is concerned," said Stern, speaking from Los Angeles. "My brother cared deeply for Anna Nicole and he is now devoting his life to Dannielynn and her well-being."
Before that can happen, however, a court may require that Stern prove that he actually fathered 5-month-old Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. At least three other men — a former boyfriend, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband and a former bodyguard — have claimed they may be the baby's father in the days since Smith's sudden death at the age of 39 on Feb. 8 in Florida.
'A loyal companion'Gary Stern told Vieira that his brother is focusing on taking care of Dannielynn, attending to Smith's burial wishes and recovering photos, paintings and other personal items that he says were stolen from the Bahamian mansion where the couple was living.
Gary Stern said he has no doubts that Howard K. Stern is the father of the little girl, who apparently stands first in line to inherit Smith's multimillion-dollar estate.
Smith's family, however, continues to claim in the media that Howard K. Stern has ulterior motives — mainly the millions tangled up in Smith's estate and bank accounts. Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, who was estranged from her daughter, believes former boyfriend Larry Birkhead is probably the baby's father. Birkhead is a celebrity photographer whose lawyers are in court trying to compel the Florida medical examiner to turn over a sample of Smith's DNA in connection with his paternity suit.
Birkhead has said that Howard K. Stern had too much influence over Smith and her affairs.
"So the portrait that has been painted of him of a controlling figure, almost Svengali-like? Not true?" Vieira asked Stern's brother.
"Absolutely not true. I really think that is disrespectful to Anna Nicole. Anna Nicole was a strong woman, a very capable woman, an independent woman," Gary Stern said. "Anna Nicole controlled Anna Nicole. Anna Nicole made her own decisions. My brother was truly devoted. He was a loyal friend. He was a loyal companion. But he in no way controlled Anna Nicole."
— John Springer, TODAY contributor, and news reports