Anna Nicole Smith wanted to be Marilyn Monroe, and, in many ways, their sad lives were very similar. Sadder still, did Smith ever really know herself? She claimed that her childhood was dire, but that fact has since been disputed. She kept her bisexuality hidden, and the question of whether she married her second husband for love (or his money) is still unclear. Her greatest joy—the birth of her daughter—was tragically aligned with her greatest despair—the loss of her son. Here are 53 facts about the ambiguous Anna Nicole Smith.
Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28, 1967, in Houston, Texas. She later lived in the much smaller city of Mexia, Texas.
Smith began calling herself Nikki Hart at Mexia High School, taking the surname of her mother’s then-husband, Donald R. Hart.
Paul Marciano, a co-founder of Guess Jeans, recalled encountering Anna Nicole (then known as "Vickie Smith") in San Antonio, where she'd brought her son to a Guess Kids photo-call for child models. Marciano was impressed with Smith's politeness in continually calling him "sir", but he was more impressed with her bleached blonde, surgically enhanced, Amazonian beauty. Marciano said he took her to New York, got her an agent, and renamed her Anna Nicole Smith for added glamor. She would go on to star in several Guess campaigns.
Anna Nicole Smith had a lot of trouble with her education. She even failed her freshman year, and she was eventually kicked out of Mexia High School for fighting. In the end, she didn't finish sophomore year.
Smith’s mother was just 16 years old and already on her second marriage when she had her second child, Vickie Lynn Hogan.
Just three days after the birth of her daughter in 2006, Smith suffered a devastating loss that former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, believes she never recovered from. Smith’s son, Daniel, was visiting her and his new half-sister in the maternity ward. Tragically, Daniel passed on during the visit, with autopsy reports later indicating a lethal mix of methadone, Zoloft, and Lexapro in his system. Conspiracy theories remain surrounding Daniel’s untimely passing.
Virgie Arthur, was a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s department for nearly 30 years. The apple fell pretty far from the tree.
Though Anna Nicole came to be known as a blonde beauty, when she was young, she acted very differently. Smith had a redneck, tomboy side, while growing into her full height of 5’11". She loved trucking down dirty country roads, and her messy hair was naturally brown. As a teen, Smith had to constantly defend herself against classmates who tormented her for her boyishness.
Smith’s family caught her lip-synching Marilyn Monroe’s "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend" when she was barely past preschool age. Even that young, she felt strongly connected to Monroe. Later on, Smith would live a version of her dream. When she moved to Los Angeles, she stayed in a home that was once owned by, guess who, Marilyn Monroe.
If Smith’s mom, Virgie, seemed like she’d already been around the block a few times, her father was much worse. Her mother divorced him after he was convicted of assaulting Virgie’s much younger sister. Smith did not discuss her father very often, but when she did, it was utterly heartbreaking. In one interview, she said, "You want to hear my child life? You want to hear all the things [my mother] did to me? All the things she let my [stepfather] do to me, or let my brother do to me or my sister? All the beatings and the whippings and [assault]?"
After dropping out of high school for good, Smith got a job cooking crispy fried chicken at a fast food joint called Jim’s Krispy, where she met her first love, a local boy named Billy Wayne Smith.
Smith and her future husband, Billy Wayne Smith, were just teenagers when they met. According to her mother, Virgie Arthur, Smith was mad that Billy Wayne showed zero interest in her. Arthur felt that Billy was too timid, but Smith vowed to her, "I’m going to get that boy, just watch, he’s going to marry me". She was right. Within a few months of meeting Billy Wayne Smith at Jim's Krispy, 18-year-old Smith hauled him in front of a justice of the peace, and they were married.
Smith was so inspired by Marilyn Monroe that she traveled everywhere with a stack of Monroe films. Like Marilyn, many people have described Smith as vivacious and beautiful on the outside, but insecure and lonely in private.
Marilyn Grabowski, a former photography editor at Playboy, was responsible for casting the magazine’s centerfolds. She has called Smith the most beautiful girl she’s ever seen without makeup, with Hollywood superstar Sharon Stone coming in a close second.
At 19 years old, Smith gave birth to her son, Daniel Wayne Smith. She was overjoyed to be a mother, but unfortunately, her happiness didn't last long. When baby Daniel was about three months old, Smith revealed the awful truth behind her seemingly sweet marriage. She claimed that her husband had been violent. Smith left Mexia with her baby, going back to Houston.
Back in her hometown of Houston, Smith worked low-end jobs at Wal Mart, and Red Lobster, trying to support her infant son, Daniel.
Smith became an exotic dancer by chance. She was driving home from a low-end job in Houston when she saw a seductive-looking billboard. She entered the establishment on a whim, looking for a waitress job. Smith quickly discovered it was a gentleman’s club—and she was invited to audition on the spot.
According to eyewitness accounts, Anna Nicole Smith's first attempt as an exotic dancer was surprisingly painful to watch. She was very self-conscious about her naturally small bust and clearly insecure about her body. Sadly, these insecurities would last throughout Smith's life, despite her incredible beauty and multiple Playboy photoshoots.
After Smith became famous, the owner of the gentleman’s club, where she’d danced, admitted publicly that he slotted her in the afternoons for a cruel reason. Apparently, she was too "plump" to work the evening shift. Thanks to his biases, Smith ended up meeting her billionaire second husband, who was too old for late nights.
Maybe not your typical American dream, but Smith’s confidence grew under the seedy lights of the gentleman’s club. She lightened her hair color to emulate the beautiful blonde style of her idol, Marilyn Monroe, and began experimenting with the persona she would take into Hollywood. On a more sour note, though, some say that Smith popped pills to up her confidence before performing.
Smith’s mom, Virgie Arthur, described an awkward telephone conversation with her daughter, shortly after Smith’s marriage to Billy Wayne. Arthur was initially very concerned because Smith seemed to be out of breath over the phone. Arthur asked Smith what was wrong—leading Smith to reply that she and her young husband were trying to "have us a baby".
When Smith’s mom discovered that Smith had become an exotic dancer, her response was jaw-dropping. Virgie pulled her weight as a sheriff’s deputy and forcibly dragged her daughter from the club. Smith protested volubly, saying she made $1,000 per night as an exotic dancer.
1991 was a fateful year in Smith’s short, troubled life. While performing at a Houston gentleman’s club, she met wheelchair-bound man named J. Howard Marshall, who was a whopping 63 years older than her. Smith later stated in interviews that Marshall looked "sad," so she approached him to bring "a twinkle to his eye". Little did she know, Smith's friendliness would be both her making and her undoing.
It turns out that Howard Marshall wasn't your average grandpa. After growing up in Philadelphia,he graduated from Yale Law School and eventually made his fortune—$ 1.6 billion—in Texas oil. Two sons and two wives later, Marshall was single and ready to mingle...providing that mingling took place at the local exotic dance hall's lunch rush.
Smith underwent an, er, very apparent chest enhancement after meeting J. Howard Marshall. It’s widely suspected that he footed the bill for her augmentation.
From the outside, Smith and Marshall relationship seemed pretty suspect, but Smith’s mother insisted otherwise. She called J. Howard Marshall a "sweetheart," who genuinely seemed to care about Smith and her son, Danny. After divorcing her first husband, 26-year-old Smith married 89-year-old Marshall. She called him "Poopsie Baby" on their wedding day, and bystanders claim he burst into tears when she announced that she was taking off to Greece—solo—for a modelling gig.
Years after her brief marriage to Marshall, Smith confessed on camera to talk show host Larry King that she hadn’t been "...physically, ‘Oh my God, you hot, hot body," attracted to Marshall. But she adamantly professed her love for him, and her admiration for "what he did for me and my son". Smith added that she’d never "had love like that before".
Reportedly, Smith and Marshall never consummated their marriage. But Smith made sure that their bond was documented, including some memorable pictures of her in a gold bikini, with her son in tow, snuggling up to Marshall in his hospital bed.
One of the weirder Anna Nicole Smith stories has to be the time that she claimed to be intimate with a ghost. Yup.
Marshall called Smith "the light of my life". She nicknamed him "Paw Paw" and in later years, she explained their bond with heartbreaking words. Smith said, "He cared about me. He never looked down on me".
Before Smith's marriage to Marshall, when she worked as an exotic dancer, she and her mother got into a terrible fight. Desperate to discourage her daughter from working in the club, Vergie asked Smith who would take care of Danny, Smith’s son, while she danced. Smith had a cold response locked and loaded. She immediately said, "you take care of him".
During publicity interviews for her reality show, Smith professed her desire to be taken seriously as an actress, describing herself as having "a little talent". Some agents agreed. Before her tragic passing, Smith practiced her comic timing in movies like The Naked Gun 33 1/3 and The Hudsucker Proxy, and appeared on the TV show Ally McBeal.
Due to Smith and Marshall's unconventional connection, the rest of the Marshall family wasn't exactly sure that Anna Nicole was in this relationship for the right reasons. In the end, Howard Marshall’s son, Pierce, made sure that he was Marshall’s lawful guardian, spelling doom for Anna Nicole. When Marshall was hospitalized shortly after his marriage to Smith, Pierce dealt his new step-mom a heartbreaking betrayal. He restricted her visits with Marshall to just 30 minutes a day, with an armed guard in accompaniment.
Sadly, Howard Marshall passed in August 1995 at 90 years old. He’d battled pneumonia earlier that year, but officials provided no further insight into his demise, other than natural causes. Smith had been married to him for barely 13 months.
Smith staged a very campy memorial service for Marshall in August 1995. Newly widowed, she wore the veil from her wedding day and a white dress with a plunging back and an even lower neckline. But it got more outrageous. Smith had Marshall's casket draped with a gold-glitter banner that said, "From Your Lady Love" and she broke down in dramatic sobs throughout the service. Smith and her son also attempted to serenade the gathering with the tune "Wind Beneath My Wings".
Before Marshall’s demise, he’d appointed his son, Pierce Marshall, power of attorney over the family’s vast fortune. After Marshall passed, Pierce spent little time in cutting Smith off completely. Her $50,000 a month allowance was severed, and she was denied the title to an expensive ranch property where she had been living with her son.
After Marshall’s demise, Smith insisted publicly that her late husband had verbally promised her half of his wealth. Pierce Marshall refused to budge, and years of vicious judicial seesawing ensued. Smith lost the first round, and she claimed bankruptcy. A new trial commenced in 2002, and Smith was awarded $474 million. But Smith never received any of it.
Smith’s fight over the J. Howard Marshall estate was so prolonged that it actually outlived her. Howard K. Stern, Smith’s lawyer (and one-time, alleged baby daddy), continued the battle after Smith’s demise. The Stern versus Marshall court case eventually ended in total failure for Smith. The court found that Smith’s estate wasn’t entitled to any of the money previously awarded to her.
As her fame rocket climbed higher, Smith fuelled her rise with pathetic stories of her rough childhood. She claimed that she'd received food stamps from her aunt to buy candy, and she had to take toilet paper from restaurants because her family couldn't afford those necessities.
A decade after Smith’s passing, her mother, Virgie Arthur, was interviewed, and Arthur gave her version of the truth on Smith’s life. According to Arthur, Smith vastly exaggerated her rough childhood, even admitting to Arthur at one point, "Momma, the worse the story, the more pitiful the story, the more money I make". Who told the truth? We may never know.
Smith was crowned Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Year in 1993.
Paul Marciano knew Smith had a magnetic personality, but she kept a terrible secret behind all the glitz and glamor. Anna Nicole was incredibly fragile. His concerns grew with her fame, as she surrounded herself with questionable people. As she fell deeper into a dangerous mix of sleeping pills and booze, Marciano severed their business relationship.
Smith attempted a reality show from 2002 to 2004, fittingly called The Anna Nicole Show. The show debuted to moderate ratings, and viewership continued to decline until The Anna Nicole Show was canceled. Many accused the show's producers of contriving the episodes. Speculation also heightened about Smith’s use of substances. Her behavior was often odd, and her speech impaired.
In 2003, following a reported weight loss of 70 pounds, Smith became a spokesmodel for TrimSpa, a brand of over-the-counter diet pills. But the brand, and Smith, both faced chilling legal allegations that TrimSpa ads were misleading, and TrimSpa’s manufacturer suffered irreparable damage following Smith’s demise in 2007.
According to close family and associates, Smith had always dreamed of having a baby girl. She announced in 2006 that she was pregnant for the second time. In September of that year, she gave birth to her daughter, Hannah Rose Marshall Stern, at a Bahamian hospital.
Smith faced a paternity battle after announcing her second pregnancy. Four men came forward, all swearing to be the baby daddy: a boyfriend, Larry Birkhead; a former boyfriend, Mark Hatten; her lawyer, Howard K. Stern; and the wackiest of the lot, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt (he was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor, but he claimed an involvement with Smith for over a decade.) In the end, Birkhead was the father. He renamed his daughter Dannielynn.
On February 8, 2007, Smith was found lifeless in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Florida. The cause was later determined to be an accidental drug OD. But in true Anna Nicole Smith fashion, the publicity didn’t die there.
In 2009, Smith's lawyer (and presumed ex-boyfriend) Howard K. Stern, and two of her former physicians were charged with 23 drug felonies in connection with Smith's accidental passing. Disturbing evidence was presented, including the state of Smith’s lifeless body upon discovery, and her erratic behavior in the years prior. Stern, and the two physicians, all pleaded not guilty to every felony count.
Following Anna Nicole Smith’s tragic demise, some surprising details of her past relationships were revealed. For example, Sandi Powledge claimed to have met Smith at a Houston lesbian bar in 1991, leading the couple to secretly share an intimate relationship for three years. Powledge offered very human insight into Smith, describing her ex-partner as starved for love, "like a bucket with a hole in the bottom".
A former bodyguard of Smith's, who was present before she passed on, made an eerie revelation that Smith heard her late son’s voice the night before her OD. According to the bodyguard, Smith called out that she "would be with him shortly".
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