ABC News’ Deborah Roberts and Melissa Lustrin report:
Larry Birkhead, one of the world’s best-known single fathers, gave ABC News the first look earlier this year inside his private world with 7-year-old Dannielynn, the daughter he shared with Anna Nicole Smith. We discovered then what a lot of other people learned last night in an E! special, that he is deeply devoted to his little girl and trying against all odds to give her a happy and somewhat normal childhood.
“I just spent the last several years ignoring what happened and trying to be as happy as I can,” Birkhead said in the special.
Dannielynn was just a baby when her mother died in 2007, and now she’s being raised by Birkhead and his extended family in rural Kentucky, far from the bright lights of Hollywood.
“I thought that was a safe place to get away from everything,” he said.
And while the former photographer tries to lead a normal life, he says his relationship with Anna Nicole was anything but.
“It was crazy. It was wild,” he explained of their tumultuous time together. “Volatile.”
Right up to the moment his blonde bombshell would reveal a bombshell of her own, telling him she was pregnant with Dannielynn via text message.
“And then she sends this little emoticon thing of a baby,” said Birkhead. “And of course I can’t tell anybody because she’s supposed to be this single, available sex goddess.”
Dannielynn was only 5 months old when her mother died of a toxic drug combination. An epic custody battle followed, until a paternity test proved Birkhead was the father.
“This story was one of the most dramatic ones of the decade,” Us Weekly magazine reporter Jennifer Peros told ABC News. “So it really is no surprise that people are still obsessed with this.”
Since Smith’s passing, Birkhead had tried to keep Dannielynn out of the spotlight, but when he gave ABC News rare access to their lives earlier this year, he explained, “Every little girl has a vision of their mom being, you know, this hero to them. She doesn’t have that.”
Today, Dannielynn stands to inherit up to $49 million from her mother’s long-embattled estate. And despite modeling for “Guess” just like her mom once did, Birkhead says she knows little about Anna Nicole and her tumultuous life.
“At this point, she thinks her mom was a very pretty person and she watches over her every day and she’s in heaven,” said Birkhead.