How Did Daniel Wayne Smith Die? Details Behind the Mysterious Death of Anna Nicole Smith’s Son

how did daniel wayne smith die?
Anna Nicole Smith hugs her son Daniel in Los Angeles in a 2004 photo. Daniel, 20, died suddenly in the Bahamas on Sunday, Smith's attorney said. The former Playmate gave birth to a healthy baby girl days earlier. (UPI Photo/Jim Ruymen/FILES) Contributor: UPI / Alamy Stock Photo

Daniel Wayne Smith was best known for being the first child and only son of 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith, a famed model for brands such as Guess, Heatherette, and H&M, a television personality and actress.

Anna Nicole Smith constantly made headlines over the years with her high-profile marriages, divorces, and, most notably, legal proceedings following the death of her second husband, J. Howard Marshall, an 89-year-old billionaire. Perhaps the most devastating headline in her life, however, came when it was revealed that her son, Daniel, had tragically and suddenly passed away. Questions soon arose. Was it accidental? Did it really happen the way his family claimed?

How did Daniel Wayne Smith die? Find out that and more of the shocking details below.  

How Did Daniel Wayne Smith Die?

Daniel Wayne Smith’s death was the result of an accidental drug overdose; however, at the time, the circumstances of his death remained questionable. 

Two days after his death, the coroner said, “The cause of death is not natural. However, we wish to reserve the cause of death at this time pending the toxicologist examination and report for confirmation of cause of death. Friday is the likely release date for the autopsy and toxicology report.” 

Daniel Wayne Smith’s cause of death was eventually revealed by pathologist reports and toxicology reports to be from a fatal combination of drugs in his system, including antidepressants such as Lexapro and Zoloft and methadone. No criminal charges were filed following a ruling by a Bahamian jury that the cause of death was indeed accidental. 

Dr. Cyril Wecht, an independent toxicologist, said of the findings to People magazine at the time: “In my opinion, it’s an accidental death,” calling methadone “a legitimate prescription drug for pain relief” and that the deceased had “no known history of morphine addiction.” 

While Daniel Wayne Smith’s cause of death was ruled an accident, the father of his half-sister, Larry Birkhead, later revealed that Anna Nicole did allow her son to experiment with drugs at home with her to keep him from “[running] around experimenting with friends.” 

Further details of his death are revealed in the Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me.

When Did Daniel Wayne Smith Die?

Daniel Wayne Smith passed away on September 10, 2006. 

How Old Was Daniel Wayne Smith When He Died?

Daniel Wayne Smith was only 20 years old when he passed away. 

Where is Daniel Wayne Smith Buried?

It was several days after Daniel Wayne Smith’s death before a death certificate was issued on September 21, 2006, and even longer before Daniel Wayne Smith’s funeral service and burial took place. 

After Daniel Wayne Smith’s funeral on October 7, 2006, held in Mexia with his father, Billy Smith, grandmother, Virgi Mae Arthur, and some friends present, he was buried at New Providence’s Lake View Cemetery on October 19, 2006. Anna Nicole Smith was only present at the latter service. 

Who Inherited Daniel Wayne Smith’s Money?

While he had an estimated net worth of about $3 million from his acting career, Daniel Wayne Smith’s estate at the time of his death has a complicated history. 

The truth of Daniel Wayne Smith’s estate is that it was actually his mother, Anna Nicole Smith’s estate, which was worth approximately $1 million, which he would have received in the event of his mother’s death. According to Anna Nicole Smith’s will, drafted in 2001, Daniel Wayne Smith’s estate or trust would be shared equally amongst all her children. 

After Daniel Wayne Smith’s death, the estate was then put into Dannielynn’s name. It was made official when she was only 18 months old. Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith’s “husband,” and Larry Birkhead, Dannielynn’s father, also became co-trustees. It reportedly gave her $700,000, meaning Daniel Wayne Smith would have also held $700,000 as the former estate holder. 

What Were Daniel Wayne Smith’s Last Words?

The last words of Daniel Wayne Smith have never been revealed. It is suspected that they were ones of joy, considering the recent birth of his half-sister just three days before. 

He was sleeping in a chair in his mother’s maternity room when he was found to be unconscious. 

When Was Daniel Wayne Smith Born?

Daniel Wayne Smith’s birthdate was January 22, 1986. 

Daniel Wayne Smith’s Zodiac sign was Aquarius. 

Where is Daniel Wayne Smith From?

Daniel Wayne Smith was born in Mexia, Texas, a city in Limestone County. 

Where Does Daniel Wayne Smith Live?

At the time of his death, it is believed that Daniel Wayne Smith was splitting his time in the Bahamas with his mother and the United States with his father. 

Daniel Wayne Smith’s Ethnicity

Thanks to his mother, Daniel Wayne Smith’s ethnic background includes mainly English but also contains smaller amounts of German, French-Canadian, Scottish, and Irish. 

It is unknown what his father’s ethnicity is. 

How Tall was Daniel Wayne Smith?

Daniel Wayne Smith’s height was approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall. 

How Much Did Daniel Wayne Smith Weigh?

Daniel Wayne Smith’s weight was estimated to be around 170 pounds. 

Following his death, when many were suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the surprising event, one of his mother’s former boyfriends claimed that Anna Nicole Smith was worried about her son’s drug use and that he had lost about 20 pounds. 

How Did Daniel Smith Become Famous?

Daniel Wayne Smith was born into the spotlight, living his entire 20-year life there thanks to him being Anna Nicole Smith’s son. 

By the time of his death, however, he had been beginning to establish a career for himself in his own right as an actor in many films. The best-known of Daniel Wayne Smith’s movies include Skyscraper and To the Limit, both released in 1995. He was also featured in two specials about his famed mother – 2002’s The Anna Nicole Show Holiday Special and 2004’s Anna Bares All

Acting wasn’t his only forte. He was credited as an associate producer for his mother’s movie, Illegal Aliens, which was released a year after his death. 

Daniel Wayne Smith’s Siblings

One of the people Daniel Wayne Smith was survived by was his younger sister, Dannielynn Birkhead, born just three days before he died. 

The question of Dannielynn’s father over the years has changed, with many men stepping forward to claim paternity. Ultimately, just a few months after Anna Nicole Smith’s death, an entertainment photographer, Larry Birkhead, was revealed to be the father. 

Daniel Wayne Smith was also survived by, at the time, his mother and his father. 

Daniel Wayne Smith’s Parents

Daniel Wayne Smith was the son of former Playboy magazine centerfold model Anna Nicole Smith and her first husband, Billy Wayne Smith, to whom she was married from 1985 until 1993. 

The now deceased youth was, according to his former stepfather, attorney Howard K. Stern, extremely close with his mother, who passed away less than a year after their son on February 8, 2007.

Stern said of the mother and son pair during the legal trial regarding his right to control how Anna Nicole Smith’s remains were to be disposed of: “Anna and Daniel were inseparable. Daniel was, without question, the most important person in Anna’s life. At Daniel’s funeral, she had them open the coffin and tried to climb inside. She said that, ‘If Daniel has to be buried, I want to be buried with him. She was ready to go down with him.” 

He further noted: “Anna saw herself as both mother and father to Daniel. From the time I met her, everything was for Daniel. I would say that physically, she died last week, but in a lot of ways, emotionally, she died when Daniel died.” 

How Much Methadone Did Daniel Wayne Smith Take?

Considering the circumstances surrounding his death, it is reasonable that many would want to know how much methadone Daniel Wayne Smith took to cause an overdose.

During the court proceedings that were held to determine whether the death was the result of foul play or an accident, toxicology reports suggested that he had ingested eight tablets in an extremely short amount of time.

The court hearings did suggest that their taste may have been “camouflaged” in a liquid they were dissolved in.

Did Anna Nicole Smith Take Methadone?

Yes. While Anna Nicole Smith was pregnant with Daniel Wayne Smith’s half-sister, Dannielynn, she was brought to the hospital for withdrawal symptoms from Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug and the powerful pain killer. 

Larry Birkhead later noted his suspicion that Daniel was able to obtain the methadone because of a prescription that his mother had under a false name during the eighth month of her pregnancy. 

Why Did Anna Nicole Smith Need Methadone?

With that in mind, why did Anna Nicole Smith need the methadone in the first place? Smith claimed that she needed the medication for a variety of reasons.

Those reasons, or excuses depending on how you look at it, included back pain, as well as pain in her head, hands, and from her breast implants. She also said the drug helped with her restless leg syndrome, seizures, migraine headaches, and insomnia.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid used to treat severe pain and even narcotic drug addiction. The drug can have several adverse reactions for those who take it, including dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, sedation, and sweating.

Where Did Daniel Wayne Smith Die?

Danielle Wayne Smith was visiting his mother and baby sister at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas when he died. He had flown in from the United States the night before to see and meet his half-sister, Dannielynn. 


Whether the final ruling was correct, and it was really an accidental overdose, or the continued suspicions of doctors, attorneys, and the public that there is more to the story are true, it is agreeable by many that Daniel Wayne Smith’s death was lined with tragedy. There was so much grief, pain, and confusion that surrounded it for all, and even 17 years later, that fact is true. Without a doubt, it’s a story that, hopefully, many can learn from and never, ever repeat.

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there, like the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), to help you recognize overdose symptoms, learn about overdose prevention, and more, or Poison Control if an overdose is suspected. Whether they are prescription drugs, over the counter, or obtained another way, it’s always best to be well informed of the risks.

Daniel Wayne Smith’s manner of death was tragic and easily could have been avoided.

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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