The Mysteries She Left Behind

02/15/2007 at 12:00 PM EST

The Mysteries She Left Behind
"She was a little lost soul," friend Denise James says of Smith (in the tub with Dannielynn in December). "Sometimes, talking to Anna was like talking to a child."
Anna Nicole Smith arrived at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., looking like she was in need of more than just some R&R. As the still-grieving mother – her 20-year-old son Daniel died Sept. 10, three days after her daughter Dannielynn was born, making headlines worldwide – walked through the hotel lobby on the evening of Feb. 5 with her companion Howard K. Stern, "she seemed a little woozy," says one witness. "She was walking straight but was being held up by Howard."

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Just three days later, at age 39, the woman who forged stardom out of her uniquely American, stuff-of-soap-operas journey – from Texas-bred teenage mother to Playboy Playmate to billionaire's widow and beyond – met a prematurend similar to that of her idol Marilyn Monroe. Now, the sad fate of the woman who was born Vickie Lynn Hogan has led to myriad mysteries, in which her secrets are peddled for money and her loved ones (and those who claim to be) wage brutal battle over what was hers.

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