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October 30, 1999 09:56am
Son Denies Fighting Texas Oil Mogul's Lavish Gifts
Source: Reuters
by: Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The son of Texas oil tycoon Howard Marshall, who is battling Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith in court over the late billionaire's estate, denied Friday that he tried to stop his father from lavishing millions of dollars in gifts on the former stripper.

Pierce Marshall, taking the witness stand in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court trial over the estate, said he sometimes argued with his father over money but only because the legendary oil man was ``crusty.''

Howard Marshall died in 1995 at the age of 89.

Smith, whose legal name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, was 26 when she married the Houston oil magnate in 1994. She claims she was fraudulently left out of his will and has asked a judge to award her roughly half her late husband's estate, or between $556 million and $820 million.

``What I discussed with Dad was where we were in an overall sense (financially),'' Marshall, 60, told the court. ``Dad asked me to help monitor the cash -- the money in and the money out -- and I did that to the best of my ability.''

Answering questions from Smith lawyer Phillip Boesch, Marshall said those discussions sometimes led to arguments.

``J. Howard Marshall was a very strong, crusty man, and if you were going to have a relationship with J. Howard Marshall, it was important to state your opinion,'' Marshall said. ``I would state my opinion and my concern.''

Marshall also rejected a suggestion by Smith's lawyer that the purpose of setting up an annuity for his 89-year-old father, who used a wheelchair, was to keep money away from the former stripper.

``We didn't know how long he would live,'' Marshall said. ''Dad would get sick and then, like the Energizer Bunny, he'd revive and be his own self again.''

Lawyers for Smith, 31, the 1992 Playboy Playmate of the Year, former Guess Jeans model and sometime actress, claim it was Howard Marshall's ``head-over-heels'' love for the stripper from Mexia, Texas, that brought him back to life.

Boesch said Pierce Marshall vehemently opposed the couple's relationship, at one point telling his father's driver that they ``could not let (Howard Marshall) fall in love.''

Boesch asked Marshall Friday, ``Didn't you often forcefully express the opinion that your father simply couldn't get married, saying, quote, Daddy can't do that?''

Marshall answered, ``I have no recollection of that.''

Smith, who was married to Howard Marshall for 14 months before his death in August 1995, is also fighting Pierce Marshall over the estate in Texas probate court. The battle was moved to Los Angeles after she declared bankruptcy and listed as a potential asset her share of the estate.

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