Anna Nicole Smith's longtime lawyer and confidante, Howard K. Stern, said on Larry King Live Tuesday night that he is the "proud father" of Smith's newborn daughter, calling her the one "ray of hope" in their lives since the sudden death Sept. 10 of the TrimSpa spokeswoman's son, Daniel.
They have since named their baby girl Dannielynn Hope, Stern told King via a video feed. "Right now we have to somehow get through what we're going through, and I'll tell you, our baby is the one ray of hope."
Which may come as a surprise to Anna Nicole Smith's ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, who told Entertainment Tonight last week that he believes in his heart that he is the baby's father, although he learned of Dannielynn's birth--and Daniel's death--from media reports. He said that he blames Smith's entourage--including Stern, presumably--for keeping him out of the loop.
"From the moment that I was told that I was the father, I just had visions of being in that room," Birkhead said. "Even though I hate hospitals and all that, I was really kind of getting prepared to just be there and be a part of it, so it hurts, you know? It hurts a lot. To be shut out, you kind of go numb because you don't understand, and then you try to get your emotions [in check]. I mean, these definitely are emotional pictures." Birkhead was referring to pics ET showed him of Anna Nicole with her daughter and Daniel, who died three days after his sister was born in the Bahamas.
According to a statement on his Website, Birkhead has asked to take a paternity test--and he doesn't think too much of Stern's announcement.
"I firmly believe the truth will come out soon and people will understand where I am coming from," he said. "I maintain that I am the proud father."
Back in June, Stern had this to say to TMZ.com, regarding Birkhead's paternity claim: "Anna wants that guy completely out of her life and obviously he is having trouble dealing with it."
Meanwhile, Smith and Stern have been holed up in the Bahamas awaiting the results of toxicology screens performed on Daniel during two separate autopsies. One report, compiled from a blood test performed the day he died, showed no traces of illegal substances in his system and, as expected, only the antidepressant Lexapro and sleeping medication Ambien were found.
The first autopsy ruled out multiple natural causes of death and neither the coroner nor Smith's private pathologist found evidence of suicide, but authorities are still trying to pin down the exact reason--prompting concern from Bahamians that Smith's celebrity has earned her special treatment.
"We're still waiting to find out what the cause is," Stern said Tuesday. "We also now have an indication that there may have been other prescriptive medication in his system, but we don't know, you know, if that would have contributed to his death or not."
The attorney was the one who had to break the news of Daniel's death twice to Smith after she suffered a memory lapse after hearing about it the first time.
"It's been very rough," Stern said. "She said that she didn't want to trade out children, meaning she didn't want one to be born and another to die."
But Dannielynn is "the one thing that is really keeping her going. And through it all, even with all the pain, she has been a great mom, a very attentive mom."
As for the two of them, Stern said: "We love each other and it's been going on for a very long time and because of my relationship as her lawyer, we felt it was best to keep everything hidden. And we've done a pretty good job of that."
They'll get married "at some point," he said. "We will. Right now we have to somehow get through what we're going through."
(Originally published Sept. 26, 2006 at 9:10 p.m. PT.)