It was excruciating for Daniel. At North Hollywood High School, shortly before he asked to be home-schooled, a classmate approached him. “Dude!” he said. “Your mom is so fucked up! What is she on?”
At least as degrading for Anna Nicole was an appearance on Howard Stern’s (no relation) radio show. Stern was incredulous about her weight gain; he called her a “big fat porker.” As soon as she walked into the studio, he urged her to step on a scale. He guessed her weight at 300 pounds. She left the interview in tears.
In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the lower federal courts, agreeing with Pierce that they had overstepped their bounds. Anna Nicole’s lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. That fall, she traveled to Vermont to shoot a B-movie called Illegal Aliens, about three aliens, a holographic mentor, transvestites, and an intergalactic villain played by the female WWE performer Chyna. Anna Nicole was in a hotel room having her makeup done, Daniel lying on the bed, when Howard burst in. “The Supreme Court said yes!” he shouted. The court had agreed to consider their case. They were going to Washington. He was ebullient.
Any enthusiasm on her part was tempered. It had been a decade since the death of J. Howard, and the years of legal wrangling had taken their toll. She had, in fact, contemplated giving up the case several times. Each time, those around her convinced her she’d gone too far to stop now.
Much had changed since her reality-show days three years earlier. She had lost 69 pounds—the result, she would claim, of a diet pill called TrimSpa, for which she’d become the heavily publicized spokesperson (she did not advertise her additional aids, such as the human growth hormone, B12, and immunoglobulin she injected with regularity in her buttocks). She also had a new boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, a young photographer from Kentucky with frosted blond hair. She told him she thought they’d “make a beautiful baby together.”
Within months of their meeting, Larry moved into Anna Nicole’s airy three-story Studio City house. Howard was also there, preparing for the Supreme Court case; often he slept on the couch in the open living room below their bedroom. The atmosphere was awkward, particularly for Daniel. He’d enrolled in Valley Community College for business, but was missing classes and doing poorly. For the first time in their lives, mother and son began fighting.
Anna became pregnant, miscarried, and became pregnant again. Her drug use persisted, and she and Larry fought over it frequently. Larry, like Daniel before him, had taken to dumping her pills down the toilet when she was not looking. One day, she could not find her bottle of methadone. She violently confronted Larry about disposing of it. He suggested they review the tape from the surveillance cameras installed throughout the house. They did, and several minutes in they saw Daniel walk into her room, take the bottle, and walk out.
Four months into her pregnancy, she became paranoid for her baby’s health and abruptly ceased all her medications. She entered withdrawal and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai, where a psychiatrist suspected that she suffered from borderline-personality disorder. Her hospital room offered an odd scene: Larry and Howard, each jockeying to care for her. Howard, Larry would later say, gave her additional drugs from her bag when she asked for them. At one point, Larry recalls, Anna was preparing a baby book, and there was a spot calling for the father to record his thumbprint. She summoned them both over. In the spot for father she pressed Larry’s; nearby she pressed Howard’s and wrote “uncle.”
The day after she left the hospital, she went to her general practitioner, who re-prescribed the medications she’d just detoxed from. She and Larry continued arguing. She told him she wanted him out of her life. He left, and later talked about her in the press—making her furious.
Daniel, meanwhile, became increasingly unstable. He started drinking and talking back. (When Howard mocked him for his presumed virginity, he shot back: “I don’t know why you’re worried about me. You’ve been around my mom for twelve years and haven’t had any pussy either.”) One evening, he destroyed his bedroom in a fit of anger. When he began staying out all night, not telling his mother where he was going, she decided she had had enough. Ray Martino, with whom Daniel stayed in touch, agreed to let him stay in his apartment in the Valley.
“They’re driving me crazy,” Daniel told Ray. “I can’t fucking take it.”
On June 20, 2006, less than four months after he stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and vowed that his stepmother would not see a dime of his father’s estate, E. Pierce Marshall, 67, succumbed to what his family described as “a brief and extremely aggressive” infection.