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Larry Birkhead: ‘I tried to save Anna Nicole’

WWW- [NY Daily News]- The man who is suing to prove he fathered Anna Nicole Smith’s million-dollar baby told the Daily News yesterday he tried to save the former Playmate from the drug-soaked lifestyle that may have led to her death.

But Larry Birkhead said his efforts to force Smith to lay off the drugs that are suspected in her death – and killed her son, Daniel – are what sent her running from him.

“I am sorry that I couldn’t save them, I tried,” Birkhead told The News yesterday. “I watched over her to make sure she was safe, and once I was basically pushed to the side … I had no control over what she did or anyone else around her did.”

A family source of Birkhead’s in Kentucky said the freelance photographer gave Smith an ultimatum after she told him she was pregnant with his child and they were making preparations for the baby.

“He told her, ‘If you do not stop your lifestyle, now that you’re pregnant with my baby, I will go for custody.’ That’s when she ran away,” said the source.

Birkhead, his voice faltering at times, talked exclusively to the Daily News while his rival for baby Dannielynn, Howard K. Stern, gave interviews to “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider.”

Birkhead, 34, said he was sure it was his baby when he went with Smith to see the obstetrician.

“I went to the doctor and saw the first ultrasound. It was incredible. It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” he told The News.

Birkhead says he and Anna meticulously planned for Dannielynn’s birth.

“We were shopping for baby clothes – she kept showing me this hope chest with all this stuff she collected over the years for a baby girl,” he said. “I cooked for her, helped her when she was sick and took care of her.”

In addition to taking care of Anna, he also took care of what he claims was their unborn daughter.

“She always made me sing to the baby at night. I am a terrible singer, but I tried! I would cook her pancakes and rub her back. Then we would get the ultrasound pictures out and just look at them in amazement.”

Birkhead and the family source said he attended child- and infant-care classes on his own, as well as a baby CPR class.

“I was the only single expecting parent in the room,” he said. “It was kind of embarrassing and everyone was looking at me, but I wanted to make sure I was prepared to be the best father I could be.”

He said he got certified by the Red Cross in CPR in case “there was an emergency.”

“I can’t help but thinking: Could I have saved Anna if I was with her? Or even Daniel? It keeps playing out in my head.”

The couple broke up early last summer. Birkhead was told that Smith went to a rehab facility to kick her booze and pill habit. He awaited the baby’s birth, hoping for a reconciliation, the family source said.

Instead, Smith moved to the Bahamas, and when baby Dannielynn was born Sept. 7, Smith put her lawyer Howard K. Stern’s name in the “father” box on the birth certificate.

Birkhead “was crying. He said, ‘I don’t know if I’m a dad or a sucker,'” the family member said.

“He’s crushed … to see another man holding his child.”

Since Anna Nicole’s death, Birkhead has been in contact with Anna’s mother, Virgie Arthur.

“I have spoken with Virgie and her aunt. They are very concerned about the baby and they just want the right thing – for the baby to be with her real father.”

Birkhead says that Stern, Smith’s lawyer and companion, has opposed him from the beginning.

“Howard has never liked me and he never wanted me and Anna to be together. After she got pregnant, things went quickly downhill because of his difference of opinion on several matters,” Birkhead recalls about Stern’s animosity.

Stern has so far refused to take a paternity test. Birkhead had flown to the Bahamas to take the test once, but Smith and Stern refused to produce the infant.

“I was within 20 miles of my baby and had to leave empty-handed. It was one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with in my life. I brought presents for her thinking maybe I would get to see her, and I had to leave them in a FedEx drop and mail them across town before I left the Bahamas.”

As for his last meeting with Anna Nicole, Birkhead is staying mum.

“It could come back to haunt me later,” he said.

But he did say they kept in contact after their falling-out.

“We stayed in touch even during our fight,” he said. “She would tell me how pretty the baby was and I just kept saying, ‘Come home, you two. Come home please.'”


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