Photographer LARRY BIRKHEAD's father has died just days after undergoing surgery on his knee. He was 67. Larry L. Birkhead passed away on Monday (10Dec07) after being rushed to hospital following a collapse at his California home. Birkhead Snr. recently underwent a knee replacement operation, and was sent home to recover despite experiencing shortness of breath, with doctors issuing him with an oxygen tank to help him breathe more easily. According to the snapper, his dad had also previously undergone surgery to remove a tumour on his lung, but had not suffered any problems since the cancer was cut out a few years ago. As WENN went to press, the cause of death is still unknown. The death couldn't have come at a worse time for the family - they were preparing to celebrate their first Christmas with little Dannielynn - 34-year-old Birkhead's daughter with the late model, Anna Nicole Smith. Speaking to American TV show Access Hollywood, Birkhead says, "I (had) just spoke (sic) to my father who was looking forward to both Dannielynn and myself joining the family for the holidays. Unfortunately he passed away (on) Monday. "I am so thankful that he got to meet my daughter. He was extremely proud of my fight to know my daughter, and that gives me great comfort to know I made him proud one last time. I hope that everyone can respect our privacy in this most difficult time." Birkhead won a paternity battle over baby Dannielynn earlier this year (07), after DNA tests proved he was the father of Smith's one-year-old daughter.