Get the latest from TODAY
The husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor said Friday that he had a decade-long affair with Anna Nicole Smith and may be her infant daughter’s father.
The claim by Prince Frederic von Anhalt comes amid a paternity suit over Smith’s 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. The birth certificate lists Dannielynn’s father as attorney Howard K. Stern, but former Smith boyfriend Larry Birkhead is waging a legal challenge, saying he is the father.
“If you go back from September, she wasn’t with one of those guys, she was with me,” von Anhalt told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.
He said he would file a lawsuit if Dannielynn is turned over to Stern or Birkhead.
Von Anhalt, 59, and Gabor, 90, have been married for more than 20 years.
Gabor, a onetime sex symbol and star of such 1950s films as “Moulin Rouge” and “Queen of Outer Space,” has been in declining health in recent years and suffered a stroke in 2005. She was partially paralyzed in a car crash in 2002.
Von Anhalt, who is Gabor’s eighth husband, said he and Smith met in the 1990s when Smith was still married to elderly oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II. He said Smith approached him and Gabor at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
“She was a very big fan of Zsa Zsa and wanted to be like Zsa Zsa,” he said. “She wanted to be a princess.”
He said the two started an affair soon after, meeting over the years in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. For much of that time, he said, Smith urged him to make her a princess like his wife.
But short of divorcing the actress, he said the only solution would have been adopting Smith. Von Anhalt said he did consider that and even filled out adoption papers, but Gabor refused to sign them.
He said he never admitted the affair to his wife, but that he’s sure she knows. She would sometimes answer the phone when Smith called him, von Anhalt said.
“She was a very sexy woman,” von Anhalt said. “To have an affair with her is the top, you know.”
Publicist Edward Lozzi, who said he handled publicity for Gabor when she was convicted of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer during a 1989 traffic stop, said he doubted von Anhalt’s claim, calling him a “chronic fabricator.”
“There are some people who are married to famous people and take advantage of it,” said Lozzi, who said he dated Smith three times and spoke with her within the last year.
Both von Anhalt and John Blanchette, Gabor’s longtime publicist, said Lozzi was a hanger-on and never the family’s official publicist.
“He’s the one taking advantage of it,” von Anhalt said.
Ronald Jason Palmieri, an attorney who has represented Gabor and von Anhalt for 15 years, was also skeptical about the paternity claim.
“I have to believe my client, but it’s still surreal,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I would find it completely implausible that he is the father of that child, to put it lightly.”
Von Anhalt’s royal credentials have been the cause of speculation over the years. According to stories in the British press, he was born Robert Lichtenberg, the son of a German policeman, and bought his title after being adopted as an adult by a bankrupt daughter-in-law of the last kaiser.