Dallas, Texas (January 24, 2022) – The recent announcement of a documentary on the tragic life of Anna Nicole Smith recently announced by Netflix may be the final opportunity for members of the media to tell a more accurate tale of her relationship and brief marriage to the late Texas oilman J. Howard Marshall, II. A 2021 ABC News program about Smith contained factual errors and comments from “commentators” who clearly knew little about the case.
Some of the misinformation that continues to be reported include:
Smith’s false claims about E. Pierce Marshall are often repeated even after they were disproven in state and federal court
“It is virtually never mentioned that Smith failed repeatedly in multiple federal and state courts based on her false claim that J. Howard’s son, E. Pierce Marshall prevented his father from providing her with a gift from this estate,” said David Margulies, who attended the five-and-a-half-month probate trial in Houston and federal court hearings as a spokesperson for the Marshall family.
“Smith lost a 5 ½ month trial in a Texas probate court as well as all her Texas appeals,” said Margulies. “When Smith attempted a second bite of the apple in federal court she or her estate lost again after going to the U.S. Supreme Court twice and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three times.
“Her unsuccessful money grab lasted 24 years from 1995 to January 2019 which marked a final loss at the 9th Circuit, well after her death.
“Ironically, by repeating past errors or failing to do adequate research those chronicling Smith’s life and relationship with J. Howard made factual errors and missed some of the most colorful and insightful episodes in their relationship,” said Margulies.
“For example, one documentary implied that it was Smith’s meltdown on the witnesses stand that cost her a victory in the case,” said Margulies. “While that may have been one of the more colorful moments in the case it was not the reason she didn’t prevail.
“Despite being a Yale-educated attorney who became an extremely wealthy man and influenced federal energy policy J. Howard was portrayed as a doddering old man,” said Margulies. “J. Howard was infirm when he met Smith, but his mind was sharp, and even after he married Smith, he and his attorneys created a bulletproof estate plan with no mention of Smith.
“One of Mr. Marshall’s nurses testified under oath that Smith waved her “rosebuds” at J. Howard and with a tape recorder in hand tried to get him to say she would get half of his assets,” said Margulies. “He didn’t make the commitment.
“In a letter to ABC News following the February 5, 2021edition of the 20/20 story on Smith we pointed out multiple errors or misrepresentations,” said Margulies. “We never received a response.”
The letter read in part “I am contacting you on behalf of the Marshall family concerning some statements made in the online version of the 20/20 story on Anna Nicole Smith and during the February 5, 2021, edition of 20/20. The statements concerning E. Pierce Marshall are inaccurate.”
Smith’s claim about J. Howard Marshall, II’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, restricted Smith’s access to her husband as he was dying and that the son also cut her off financially.
Employees of J. Howard Marshall, II, who were J. Howard’s home caregivers, testified under oath that neither they nor Pierce ever interfered with Anna visiting her husband. J. Howard’s doctor had ordered short visits near the end of his life, and any visitor was allowed to wait and come back into his room an hour later in order to allow him to rest. “I was in the courtroom during the testimony, and you can get a confirmation from attorneys who were also there during the trial,” said Margulies.
Sworn testimony was also provided that J. Howard’s inability to continue to give Anna money was the result of a refusal of his bankers to lend him additional funds and J. Howard’s decision not to liquidate assets to fund Anna’s lifestyle.
The assertion that Marshall bequeathed the entirety of his estate to his son, without a cent given to Smith. She took Pierce Marshall to court to get her share.
Pierce was the primary, but not the only beneficiary of his father’s estate.
J. Howard gave Smith more than $6 million in cash and gifts before and during their marriage. Smith did not prevail in court because she was never in J. Howard’s estate plan.
The ABC legal analyst interviewed by ABC claimed Pierce Marshall was given guardianship over J. Howard Marshall, II.
That is not correct – it was Betty Morgan, one of J. Howard’s caregivers, who was given guardianship over the person.
“It has always been easy to portray J. Howard and Smith as cartoon characters and my client the late E. Pierce Marshall as the evil stepson,” said Margulies.
“Smith’s attorneys attempt to make Pierce the wrongdoer in the case backfired when jurors learned that he had passed up a chance to earn millions by betraying his father and in fact had faithfully carried out his father’s estate plan.”
The question is will Netflix try to get it right in its new documentary?