She was the sex symbol of the 90's and for many years, her life will continue to be tabloid gist.
Anna Nicole Smith was born into scandal.
Her mother was already divorced at 15, giving birth to her the following year. Her divorce from her first husband was because he was sleeping with her 10 year old sister.
By the time Anna (real name Vickie Lynn Hogan) was a teenager, her mother had moved on to her third husband.
She would say in later years that her stepfather raped her repeatedly – with her mother’s knowledge – and eventually was sent away from the home at 13.
Taken in by an aunt, Anna Nicole Smith could not stay in school. She finally dropped out in the second year of high school and began working at a fast food joint.
It was there that she met her first husband, Billy Wayne Smith who was a cook at the restaurant.
By 17, she too was divorced and soon started dancing at a local strip club. The pay was much better than selling fried chicken.
Fortunately for her, her poverty stricken background did not have any effect on her looks: she looked like a model. Her body has been the described as one of the most perfect features of her woman.
Tall, slim and full breasted; her stripping career took her to the city of Houston. She became a Playboy model and started getting featured in magazines and billboards.
One night an 87-year-old oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall was in the club, trying to comfort himself over the recent death of his wife. He took an immediate liking to Anna and started showering her with attention and gifts like she had never experienced before.
They began a relationship that was seen as scandalous: the 63-year difference between them and the nature of their meeting made for juicy gossip.
Two years after they met, 26-year-old Anna Nicole Smith and 89-year-old Howard Marshall were married. 13 months after they married, the old man died.
After his death, she laid claim to half of his $1.6 billion fortune. While the old man lavished expensive gifts and cash on her during his life, he never included her in his will.
The inheritance cases filed by Howard heirs and the counter suits filed by her became a protracted legal battle.
In 2000, a bankruptcy court awarded her $450 million from the estate of her husband. Another court overturned that decision while a yet another one maintained it, although awarding her only $88 million. The matter got as high as the US Supreme Court in 2006.
All of these personal issues not withstanding, Anna Nicole Smith milked her ‘sex symbol’ fame to no end. By then, she was a celebrity having appeared in a few movies.
She became one of E!‘s first celebrity reality shows. She was even featured in the video for Kanye West‘s ‘The New Workout Plan’.
But as bizarre as her life was, the circumstances surrounding her death are more surreal.
In 2006, she announced that she was pregnant with a daughter but refused to disclose who the father is.
By this time she was dating her longtime lawyer Howard K. Stern and would later marry him in a civil ceremony in the Bahamas, and all fingers pointed to him as the father.
It was also rumoured that Anna Nicole had frozen the sperm of her wealthy ex-husband Howard Marshall and had inseminated herself to have a child with direct claims to the disputed fortune.
However, her former boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead insisted that he was the rightful father of the unborn child.
When the baby was born on September 7, 2006 in a Bahamas hospital, the father of was named as Howard Stern, Anna Nicole’s current partner.
On September 10, her 20-year-old son, Daniel was visiting her in the maternity ward when he collapsed and died. An autopsy revealed that he overdosed on prescription medicine.
It was strange at the time because he was not known to be drug user at all, unlike his mother. His death left her devastated and her close friends said she practically died when he died.
Three weeks later, she ‘married’ the Howard Stern man with whom she was staying in Bahamas to avoid the paternity case filed by her ex-boyfriend.
Her residency status in the island country was thrown into question when photos of her laying in bed with the country’s immigration minister emerged in the newspaper. He was forced to resign, although claiming that the photos were taken by Howard Stern.
It also turned out that the house they were staying in, purportedly given to Anna Nicole by yet another former lover. In the court case that ensued, it was revealed not to be true and she was evicted from the property.
She maintained a low profile on her return to the U.S. In the afternoon of February 8 2007, her lifeless body was found in the hotel suite she was staying. And an autopsy revealed that, like her son, she overdosed on a combination of legal drugs.
Her death was as salacious as her life, with family and friends fighting over who gets what from her assets.
A photo of her corpse was bought by Getty Images for $500,000. Some members of her circle cut massive deals with tabloid magazines for exclusives and others wrote books detailing the sordid details of her life.
All of this happening while her body was decomposing before burial as a result of the excessive drugs in her system.
2 months later, a paternity test revealed that the ex-boyfriend was indeed the father of the baby, Danielynn. He has since taken custody of the child.
In the 10 years since her death, the conspiracy theories regarding her death have not vanished.
Because her then partner, Howard Stern was present at the deaths of she and her son’s sudden deaths, it’s been speculated that he arranged their accidental overdoses, in order to receive the money he hoped her estate could eventually win from the Marshall suit and in the event of that failing, he would benefit as the father of the child. No court has indicted him of any wrong doing and he has moved on with his life.
The story of Anna Nicole Smith is a sad story of sleaze, sex and opportunism. She was the sex symbol of the ’90s and for many years, her life will continue to be tabloid gist.
She was only 39 years old.
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