Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Prescription to Die

Anna Nicole Smith

In many ways Anna Nicole Smith's life paralleled that of her idol, Marilyn Monroe: both were once Playboy models — Anna paid tribute to Monroe on one cover — self-made blonde bombshells who'd created new identities to become Hollywood stars. But Smith, born Vickie Lynn Hogan, probably wouldn't have chosen the final similarity to Monroe: dying from a prescription drug overdose on February 8, 2007. Like Monroe, she'd even taken chloral hydrate. Unlike her idol's, though, Smith's death was ruled an accidental overdose.

Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith

Smith wasn't considered as talented as Monroe, and she never managed to move fully from pin-up queen to legitimate actress. Her second marriage, widely regarded as a gold-digging adventure, to billionaire J. Howard Marshall when he was in his late 80s and she was 26, was the subject of much scorn and scrutiny. While she had brief success as the face of Guess Jeans and the Playboy Playmate of the Year, she soon became gossip fodder for her inebriated public appearances on MTV Awards shows and her reality show, The Anna Nicole Show.

Smith suffered a personal tragedy on September 10, 2006, when the 20-year-old son from her first marriage, Daniel Smith, died unexpectedly, just after visiting her in the hospital upon the birth of his half-sister, Dannielynn. The toxicology reports later revealed that he had methadone, and antidepressants Zoloft and Lexapro in system, a fatal combination.

Like many other celebrities, Anna's addictions were allegedly fed by pliable and corrupt doctors. In March 2009, nearly two years after her death, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and attorney Howard Stern (who had been dating Anna and had participated in a nebulous civil "commitment ceremony" with her), and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich were charged with eight felonies, including unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing a controlled substance to an addict.

The charges against Smith's former doctors, says Marcia Clark, the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, might provide a blueprint for Michael Jackson's case. Clark writes on the website The Daily Beast of Smith's case: "The evidence that some of the prescriptions were forged and fraudulent was a big piece of the puzzle that led to the filing of the criminal case."

When someone dies of a drug overdose, it is usually said that they died for nothing. If the state of California is successful in prosecuting Smith, et al. in Anna Nicole's case, her death, along with the scrutiny attending Michael Jackson's death, might be the beginning of the end of celebrity pill mill free-for-all.

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