She was sometimes compared to Marilyn Monroe and now the two have something else in common, besides blond bombshell looks.
Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy playmate who found notoriety as she said "I do" to an octogenarian billionaire, was only 39 when she died Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino in Florida.
Just three years older than Monroe when the actress' untimely death came in August 1962.
A lawyer who represented Anna Nicole Smith, Ron Rale, says the model was staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino Thursday when she was found unresponsive and was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., where she was pronounced dead.
WCBS-TV in New York reports that while searching Anna Nicole Smith's hotel room late Thursday afternoon, investigators found two key pieces of evidence: illegal narcotics and prescription medications.
A toxicology report will determine whether one of these drugs or a combination of both substances contributed to her death.
An autopsy is scheduled for Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Sheriff's deputies were seen carrying out at least eight brown bags from Smith's hotel room, each sealed with red evidence tape.
Rale dismisses the idea that drugs might have been involved as "a bunch of nonsense." In an interview with the Miami Herald, Rale says he spoke with Smith Tuesday or Wednesday and she had flu symptoms and was grieving over the recent death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel.
Speaking at a news conference in Florida, Charlie Tiger of the Seminole police told reporters that a private female nurse discovered Smith's body at the hotel and that a bodyguard administered CPR at 1:45 p.m.
Tiger said police received confirmation of her death at 2:49 p.m.
Photos: Anna Nicole Smith Photos: Anna Nicole: The Aftermath
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Dr. Joshua Perper, who is to perform the autopsy, says if the death was from natural causes, the findings will probably be announced quickly but a final report could take weeks.
2The past year was turbulent for Smith. She was due in court at the end of this month in connection with a paternity suit filed by her ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, who claimed to be the father of her infant daughter, Dannielynn.
Debra Opri, the attorney representing Birkhead in the paternity suit, tells the Herald that Birkhead is "devastated. He is inconsolable, and we are taking steps now to protect the DNA testing of the child. The child is our number one priority."
An emergency hearing is scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles, to consider Birkhead's request for a DNA sample from Smith's body.
The baby was born on Sept. 7 in the Bahamas, days before her son Daniel, 20, died suddenly of a drug overdose.
A medical examiner hired by the family said Daniel had methadone and two antidepressants in his system when he died.
Bahamian authorities announced last month that there will be a formal inquiry into his death on March 27.
CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that police are not treating Smith's death as a crime but they are interviewing people who were with her at the hotel.
"She checked in Monday at 8 p.m. as a guest. She was due to check out tomorrow [Thursday]," said Danielle Giordano, a spokeswoman for the hotel.
Another spokeswoman for the hotel tells the Miami Herald that Smith told hotel staff, when she checked in on Monday night, that she was sick.
WFOR-TV reports that Smith was in the room with a nurse when she started to experience "difficulty." The nurse reportedly called Memorial Hospital directly, and while she was on the phone, Smith's bodyguard entered the room and began to perform CPR.
Her partner, Howard K. Stern, told "Entertainment Tonight" that Smith had a high temperature Wednesday night. ET reported that the couple was shopping for a new boat in Florida.
3Anna Nicole Smith was a main dish for the tabloids even before she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1993. Readers were fascinated by her good looks, her marriage to an elderly billionaire and subsequent court fight over his estate, her weight fluctuations and the sudden death last year of her 20-year-old son.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner says he considered Smith a dear friend who meant a lot to him and the Playboy family.
A former topless dancer who many times struck poses reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, Smith first made her name squeezing into Guess jeans.
In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, the head of oil-based Koch Industries, which is part of a family fortune worth at least $400 million.
Marshall died in 1995, setting off a feud with her former stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, over whether she had a right to his estate.
But last May, the U.S. Supreme Court revived her case. The justices said only that federal courts in California could deal with her case, despite a Texas state court ruling that Marshall was the estate's sole heir.
The stepson then died in June at age 67. But the family said the court fight would continue.
In the following years, Smith was a hit on reality TV with "The Anna Nicole Smith" show on the E! cable network.
She also, on numerous occasions, used her fame on behalf of the animal rights charity PETA, at one point striking a glamour pose on a poster proclaiming: "Gentlemen Prefer Fur-Free Blondes."
Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on Nov. 28, 1967, in Houston, one of six children of Donald Eugene and Virgie Hart Hogan.
She married Bill Smith in 1985, giving birth to Daniel before they divorced two years later.
Smith had been estranged from her immediate family for years at the time of her death.
"Everyone in my life has stabbed me in my back, or said something bad about me or sued me," she told The Insider in an interview shot at her Bahamas home ten days ago.
Paul Marciano, C.E.O. of Guess, says he doesn't think Smith recovered from the loss of her son.
"She was a tragic figure," journalist Dominick Dunne, who writes often about the rich and famous, told TheShowbuzz.com's Muni Jaitly as the news broke that Smith had died. "And you know what, she was likable, too."