Friday, February 8, 2008

Anna Nicole Smith

Vickie Lynn Marshall (November 28, 1967 - February 8, 2007), better known under the stage name of Anna Nicole Smith,was an American model and television personality. She first gained popularity in Playboy, becoming the 1993 Playmate of the Year. She modeled for clothing companies, including Guess jeans. She starred in her own reality TV show, The Anna Nicole Show.

Born and raised in Texas, Smith dropped out of high school and first married at the age of 17. Her highly publicized marriage to oil business executive and billionaire J. Howard Marshall, 63 years her senior, resulted in speculation that she married the octogenarian for his money, which she denied. Following his death, she began a lengthy legal battle over a share of his estate; her case, Marshall v. Marshall, reached the U.S. Supreme Court on a question of federal jurisdiction. In the months before her death, she was the focus of renewed press coverage surrounding the death of her son, Daniel Smith.

Smith's career took off after she was chosen by Hugh Hefner to appear on the cover of the March 1992 issue of Playboy, where she is listed as Vickie Smith, wearing a low-cut evening gown. Smith said she planned to be "the next Marilyn Monroe".

Smith secured a contract to replace supermodel Claudia Schiffer in the Guess jeans ad campaign in a series of sultry black and white photographs. Guess capitalized on Smith's strong resemblance to sex symbol Jayne Mansfield and put her in Jayne-inspired photo sessions. In 1993, before Christmas, she modeled for the Swedish clothing company Hennes & Mauritz H&M. She was dressed in underwear and arranged in seductive poses. She appeared on big posters in Sweden and Norway.

While performing at Gigi's, a Houston strip club, in October 1991, Smith met elderly oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall and they began a relationship. During their two-year relationship, he reportedly lavished gifts on her and asked her to marry him several times. She divorced her husband Billy on February 3, 1993, in Houston.On June 27, 1994, Smith, 26, and Marshall, 89, married in Houston. This resulted in a great deal of gossip about her marrying him for his money. Though she reportedly never lived with him, Smith maintained that she loved her husband, and age did not matter to her. Thirteen months after his marriage to Smith, Marshall died on August 4, 1995, in Houston.

Smith was chosen to be the 1993 Playmate of the Year. By the time of her PMOY pictorial, she had settled on the name Anna Nicole Smith.

Becoming one of Playboy's most popular models, Smith was heavier and larger than the typical Playboy model.

Due to her support of the anti-fur movement, in particular her criticism of Canadian seal hunting, PETA began a petition in memory of Smith to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the annual tradition.

In another ad the following year, Smith posed with her dogs in a campaign against Iams dog food for their alleged cruelty to animals, as well as the manufacturer Proctor and Gamble, and sister company Eukanuba.

This handout image from Playboy, shows a cover of the Feb. 2001 issue of Playboy magazine, featuring Anna Nicole Smith.

Smith has also been featured in advertisements for the animal rights group PETA. Spoofing Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" segment in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a 2004 ad states "Gentlemen prefer fur-free blondes."

Smith announced on June 1, 2006, in a video clip posted on her official website that she was pregnant. "Let me stop all the rumors," she said, while floating on an inflatable raft in a swimming pool. "Yes, I am pregnant. I'm happy, I'm very, very happy about it. Everything's goin' really, really good and I'll be checking in and out periodically on the web, and I'll let you see me as I'm growing."

Though her announcement did not provide any details, in an interview with Larry King on CNN's Larry King Live after her daughter's birth and her son's death, Smith's longtime personal attorney Howard K. Stern said that he and Smith had been in a secret relationship for "a very long time" and due to the timing of the pregnancy, was confident that he was the father of the baby.

Her ex-boyfriend, entertainment photojournalist Larry Birkhead, steadfastly maintained that he was the baby's father and filed a lawsuit to establish paternity.

Smith's daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, was born September 7, 2006, at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. The Bahamian birth certificate recorded the father as Howard K. Stern.

A judge in the United States ordered that DNA tests be performed to determine the biological father of Dannielynn. Following Smith's death, Debra Opri, the lawyer for Larry Birkhead, asked for an emergency DNA sample to be taken from the corpse.

Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died on September 10, 2006 in his mother's hospital room while visiting her and his newborn sister. After the coroner labeled the death "reserved," Smith hired forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht to perform a second autopsy.

On September 28, 2006, Smith and Howard K. Stern exchanged vows and rings in an informal commitment ceremony aboard the 41-foot catamaran Margaritaville off the coast of the Bahamas.

On February 8, 2007, Smith was found unresponsive in room 607 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. After Smith's death, various legal battles began regarding: the will, the paternity of her daughter, and her final resting place, which resulted in the delay of her burial. Smith was finally buried March 2, 2007 at Nassau's Lakeview Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in a plot adjacent to her son, Daniel. Daniel's father reportedly wants his son exhumed and reburied in his home state of Texas.

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