Anna Nicole Smith’s ‘secret’ girlfriend says she ‘married late model in the backyard’

A new Netflix documentary about Smith has been released

Kate Ng
Tuesday 16 May 2023 12:15 BST
Trailer of Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me documentary

Melissa “Missy” Byrum, a friend of the late Anna Nicole Smith, has claimed that the pair were in a “secret relationship” and got married “in the backyard by the pool” in 1993.

Byrum, who appears in a new Netflix documentary titled Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, said that the pair fell in love and that Smith proposed to her.

The former dancer met Smith in the early Nineties in a strip club in Houston, where they both worked. They became best friends and later, lovers, she said.

Smith, who died in 2007 of combined drug intoxication, was famously married to oil tycoon J Howard Marshall II in 1994, which was her second marriage and his third. It was highly publicised given Marshall was 89 and Smith was 26 when they married.

But Byrum told People that Marshall “knew [Smith] was a young woman and needed certain things”, adding: “He allowed her to have her boy toys or whatever.”

According to People, Byrum and Smith began their “secret relationship” in 1992 and Smith “proposed” to her the following year.

“She gave me a set of rings and we got married in the backyard by the pool with champagne… She wanted me to have a baby with her,” Byrum said.

“But I always knew it wasn’t ever going to work out because she was never, ever going to settle down with one person.”

An old photograph of Melissa ‘Missy’ Byrum and Anna Nicole Smith
An old photograph of Melissa ‘Missy’ Byrum and Anna Nicole Smith (Netflix)

Ultimately, Byrum and Smith’s relationship ended over her addiction to painkillers, the former dancer said.

“She needed more love than any one human being could give her,” she added.

Smith faced accusations that she had married Marshall in order to inherit his wealth after he died, which she consistently denied.

“I know people think I married Howard for his money,” she previously said. “But it’s not true. I love him.”

A production still image of Anna Nicole Smith from the Netflix documentary ‘Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me’
A production still image of Anna Nicole Smith from the Netflix documentary ‘Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me’ (Netflix)

Byrum reinforced Smith’s sentiments and said: “She really loved him. The way he took care of her and looked out for her – she cared about him a lot. She didn’t want people to think that she was after his money. [Her] Aunt Kay and I both said, ‘If you love him, to heck with what people think!’”

Marshall died in 1995, just over a year after they were married. Smith, whose first marriage was to cook Billy Wayne Smith when she was 17, did not marry again after Marshall’s death.

She was romantically linked to fashion designer Christian Audigier, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, who is Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ninth husband, photographer Larry Birkhead and lawyer Howard K Stern.

Smith began her career as a Playboy magazine centrefold, and went on to become a model. She was featured in a Guess jeans advertising campaign after replacing Claudia Schiffer and also modelled for H&M.

She also held several acting roles, although her acting career was not as successful as her modelling. Smith made her acting debut in the 1994 comedy The Hudsucker Proxy and also appeared in Skyscraper (1996) and Sin City Spectacular (1998).

Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me began streaming on Netflix today (Tuesday 16 May).

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