Unlike Anna Nicole Smith, who lived a garishly public existence, Howard K. Stern, her partner, lawyer and insistent “proud father” of her daughter, has somehow managed to sidestep the media spotlight, remaining, in fact, something of a mystery.
Records show that he attended the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA Law School, passed the California Bar and was admitted to practice in 1994. But a search of legal data bases did not show any cases in which he had been the attorney of record.
Public records also showed that the 38-year-old Californian maintains an apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., from which he operated a business called “Hot Smoochie Lips Inc.” The nature of the business was not known.
Stern, not related to the shock jock with the similar name, had no public persona at all until he took up with the model and former Playmate, who died in a Florida hotel room Thursday. He’s had nothing to say publicly since then, allowing his lawyer to talk for him, instead.
Stern is embroiled in a legal battle to establish that he is the father of Smith’s five-month-old daughter. An entertainment journalist, Larry Birkhead, whose lawyer is also speaking for him, says he is the baby’s father and wants a DNA test to settle the question.
On Friday, another claimant to the fatherhood role injected himself into the fray. The told The Associated Press he had a long-term relationship with Smith and was the father of the baby.
Stern’s and Birkhead’s attorneys have been making the rounds of talk shows saying that both men are too grief stricken to speak.
Stern, who’s name appears on the birth certificate for Smith’s baby, Dannielynn, quickly became a public figure in Smith’s life story when it was disclosed that he was in her hospital room in the Bahamas when her 20-year-old son, Daniel, collapsed and died there a few days after Smith had given birth to the baby last September.
In a nonlegal “commitment ceremony,” 18 days later, Stern and Smith exchanged vows on a boat near Nassau. A representative for Smith said then that the couple “exchanged vows before God” but did not obtain a marriage license.
Stern later appeared on the TV show “Larry King Live” where he declared himself to be the “proud father” of Smith’s baby. “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” reported Friday that that Smith and Stern were planning to have a traditional marriage ceremony on Feb. 23.