The man who seeks custody of Anna Nicole's child says his only desire is to be a good father

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 27, 2007 09:55 AM

Larry Birkhead finally met the child he claims is his 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, whose mother is the late Anna Nicole Smith.

In their time together, Birkhead fed the baby, burped her – and she threw up on him, according to an Access Hollywood interview and profile, part of which was aired on the the Today show Tuesday.

All Birkhead wants, according to the report, is “to be a good father.” As for his memories about Anna Nicole, the Los Angeles-based celebrity photographer says that he most cherished his private time with her.

“Every moment that we got together was kind of … that’s what everything’s about. To me, it wasn’t about the money. [Being with her] that was like gold to me, you know?” Birkhead says in the interview, which was conducted by Tony Potts and was taped before Birkhead met Dannielynn.

When he was with Smith, he said, “I enjoyed just sitting back and watching her success, and watchin’ the fact that she just loved being in front of the camera. And it wasn’t important for me to jump up and say, ‘Hey, I’m her boyfriend!’ ”

When the couple found out she was pregnant, he recalled, “She just had this different look about her. It was really weird, because her skin, everything looked different. Everything was weird. And as soon as she went to sleep, I took my hand and I went – you know, I kind of felt over and I just laid my hand there [on her stomach], because I just knew at that moment that she was pregnant.”

Asked if he knew Smith was going to have a baby just by his touching her, Birkhead answered, “I knew. I just knew then. I said, ‘Look, what if something were happening to you? I know you know – you better tell me… And she said, she said, ‘Yes, we’re having a baby.’ ”

Except that soon Smith and her lawyer-companion, Howard K. Stern, moved to the Bahamas, where in September she gave birth to Dannielynn – three days before Smith’s older child, 20-year-old Daniel, died.

Birkhead said he was surprised that Stern, and not himself, was listed as the father on Dannielynn’s birth certificate.

As for how he got his first glimpse of the child that he claims is his, Birkhead said, “They were kind of low-res pictures that [Smith and Stern] sent out to different outlets to see if they were interested in them, and they were so small that I couldn’t see. But even in that small form, I knew when I looked at them, I knew. I said, ‘She’s mine. That’s my baby. She looks like me – she is mine.’ And there was not a doubt.”

When the news broke on Feb. 8 that Smith had collapsed in a Hollywood, Fla., casino, “I was sitting in the dentist’s chair with half of my mouth numb,” says Birkhead. “And at the dentist’s they had televisions in front of you, and the headline said, ‘Anna Nicole Collapses.’ And my phone was in my pocket, and it was just going crazy. And I knew something was going wrong.

“I got to a friend of mine, and he said, ‘We don’t want you to hear about this on television, but it doesn’t look good.’ And I just kept saying, ‘No.’ I said, ‘No. Save her, somebody save her.’… I said, ‘I’ll go save her. If they can’t, I will.’ ”

Last week, during the court battle for custody of Smith’s remains, Birkhead was permitted to visit the mortuary and offer his final goodbye. He said his words to her were “something she made me say every night before she went to sleep… I said, ‘Good night, my sweet Anna baby.’ ”

Of Stern, who claims he is Dannielynn’s father and is seeking legal custody of the child, Birkhead says, “I think he is doing what he thinks is best. And I think what I am doing is best.”

As for what he one day hopes to tell Danniellyn about her famous mother, Birkhead says, “I just want her to know the good stuff. I want her to know she was a good person, a loving person. She loved kids.”

The full report will air on Access Hollywood and Bravo TV.