The Tragic, All-Too-Short, and Fascinating Life of Anna Nicole Smith - too cool 2 be true

The Tragic, All-Too-Short, and Fascinating Life of Anna Nicole Smith

Before Anna Nicole Smith became a famous model, actress, and Playboy magazine cover, she was a humble Texas tomboy. Smith was a reality TV show star even before reality shows became the norm. Though she led a short and tumultuous life, she was a charismatic, savvy, and kind-hearted human being who thrived in the spotlight.

Through tenacity and charm, she made her career flourish and tried her best to give joy to everyone. In a twist of fate, she ended up imitating one of her greatest role models in more ways than one. Hers is a story surrounded by gossip and rumor.

Read on and learn the real highs and lows of Anna Nicole Smith’s career and life.

Before Anna Nicole Came Vicki Lynn

Prior to becoming Anna Nicole Smith, she was Vicki Lynn Hogan—the only child of Virgie Arthur and Donald Hogan. Born in Texas in 1967, she was an only child and was merely two years old when her parents split up.

Her mother was sixteen years old and was already in her second marriage when she gave birth to the future model. The young Smith—or Vicki Lynn Hogan—was primarily raised in extreme poverty by her mother and aunt. She also had five half-siblings on her father’s side.

From Brunette To Blonde

Anna Nicole Smith’s trademark blonde hair was actually an unnatural color as she was born a brunette. She was a tomboy who drove through dirty country roads in trucks. She described herself as so boyish in her youth that she was teased by her classmates and picked on.

The Playboy model seemed to enjoy changing her name throughout her life, even from a young age. She changed her name many times before finally landing on Anna Nicole Smith. This high school picture of the young Smith was from her yearbook, where she used the name “Nikki Hart.”

Smith Dropped Out From High School

Due to her difficult childhood, Smith did not pass her freshman year in high school. She also had to live in Mexia, Texas, with her aunt. She eventually dropped out of school at 16 years old and had to work a string of minimum-wage jobs to get by.

She was able to land a job at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken, a fast food joint, where she met and eventually went on to marry a 17-year-old chicken cook Billy Wayne Smith. Their romance would be a quick-start one, to say the least.

She Wanted To Marry Him

Anna Nicole Smith’s mother described the time her young daughter got angry that Billy Wayne seemed uninterested in her. She got so mad that she declared she was going to “get that boy” and that “he’s going to marry me.”

Eventually, Smith got her wish. The couple tied the knot in 1985. The following year, Vicki Lynn gave birth to a baby boy, which they named Daniel Wayne Smith. Since the two were merely teens, they split up after a year. Their marriage officially dissolved in 1993.

Walmart Worker

Being a single mother isn’t easy. Anna Nicole had to do everything to support her baby. She had to pay the bills, so she applied and was accepted at Walmart. She later got a job waiting tables at Red Lobster. She was doing her best to make ends meet.

Still, a minimum wage job was not enough to give her son a comfortable life. Since Smith had no one to rely on, she had to do something different to receive pay that was more than what she received from doing menial work.

Dancing for Money

Smith went looking for another opportunity to work as a waitress when she entered another establishment. However, she was asked to audition for another job—an exotic dancer. Though Smith didn’t have the moves, she was hired on the spot.

It was at this time that she began to earn more money than she ever did before. Despite her good looks, she felt insecure. Though she was yet to have the body she was later known for, she made sure to save up any money she earned while dancing for the future.

Plastic Surgery Procedures

Smith went through numerous plastic surgery procedures. She started with breast augmentation during her time as a dancer. However, this operation led to reconstructive surgery that required Smith to be prescribed painkillers.

As a dancer, Smith was able to make anywhere from $50 to $200 each night despite her reservations about her looks—an opinion her manager seemed to share. She was also placed on the afternoon shift due to her being unpopular in the evenings.

Becoming Marilyn Monroe

Before Vicki Lynn Hogan became Anna Nicole Smith, she used a slew of different names while working as a dancer. She decided she was going to brand herself as the “new Marilyn Monroe.” She made sure she associated herself with the legendary icon in any way she could.

According to Smith, she could relate to Monroe, especially after she made her body look similar to the 50’s bombshell. Perhaps as a result, or just a cruel twist of fate, she ended up leading a similarly tragic life.

J. Howard Marshall Meets Anna Nicole

Though she was placed on the afternoon shift, it ended up working to her advantage. It was at this time that she met billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The tycoon was already in his late 80’s while Anna Nicole was in her early 20’s.

According to Anna Nicole, she was on stage when she saw Marshall sitting in the audience. She described him as looking lonely, so she began to talk to him after she had finished her dancing routine. They later became friends, and then more.

Marshall Was Into Dancers

J. Howard Marshall’s second wife was an exotic dancer named “Lady,” who later died amid a facelift procedure. It was a long-term relationship that ended on not-so-good terms because Marshall discovered she was having an affair.

He later sued her estate to regain the gifts he gave her. It was at this time when the rich octogenarian became interested in another dancer—the gorgeous Anna Nicole Smith. It seems that he had a thing for dancers.

Playboy Cover

It was 1991 when Anna Nicole went to a Playboy open call. As luck would have it, she ended up gracing the cover in 1992. Back then, she went by the name Vickie Smith. After two months, she became the Playboy Playmate of the Month. In 1993, she was heralded as the Playmate of the Year.

According to the magazine’s photography editor since 1964, Marilyn Grabowski, Anna Nicole Smith was “the most beautiful girl I had ever seen without makeup. Sharon Stone is a close second.”

Anna Nicole Loves Daniel

Besides appearing on the centerfold of Playboy, she was also seen in an online video that was released in 1993. In it, the single mom was enjoying her spacious Houston ranch with Daniel, her seven-year-old son. The video captured Smith declaring her love for Daniel.

She called him the love of her life. Smith found it wonderful that she was able to give him everything she didn’t have growing up. Playing on the farm with all the animals, Smith declared that Daniel would always be her “number-one cowboy.”

Becoming Somebody

Playboy was responsible for Anna Nicole Smith’s success. She made sure she was making the most out of her new-found fame. Still, she was a country girl at heart. When she moved to her new Houston home, she made sure her favorite sheep was with her so she could cuddle with the furry animals.

Every time she had to fly to Los Angeles for work, she rented the house Marilyn Monroe had lived in during her prime Hollywood years. Smith told People magazine in 1993 that she felt she was finally “becoming somebody.”

Glamorous Guess Jeans

When Guess jeans knocked on Anna Nicole Smith’s door and gave her a modeling contract, it meant she had achieved mainstream success. The clothing company’s previous supermodel was Claudia Schiffer. Smith’s Guess jeans ads further pushed her into the spotlight.

It was also at this time when Smith was christened Anna Nicole Smith by Guess President Paul Marciano. The name turned out to be a perfect match with her image. Guess’s high-profile campaign saw Smith shot in black and white pictures and styled to look like 1960s bombshell Jayne Mansfield.

More Modeling Work

After her wildly popular Guess campaign, Anna Nicole Smith got more modeling gigs. She appeared on H&M’s giant billboards and was also on the cover of Marie Claire magazine. She was also seen in GQ magazine.

Anna Nicole Smith was more curvaceous than other models, the same way Marilyn Monroe was. Her natural beauty and charisma in front of the camera allowed her to shine. During the same time period, Smith was still with billionaire J. Howard Marshall.

Diamonds Are Forever

As she was reaching new heights of fame, Marshall‘s interest in her similarly increased. He became completely enamored with her. To capture her attention, Marshall lavished her with luxurious jewelry.

The two took a trip to Harry Winston, where Marshall purchased three rings, two pairs of earrings, two necklaces, and a bracelet, all made out of diamonds. Its total cost was $2 million. Smith later described Marshall as a “savior” as he was responsible for taking her out of a difficult place.

Marrying Marshall

Anna Nicole was only 26 years old when she married the billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The two had been dating for a few years when they decided to tie the knot in 1994. The marriage itself was the subject of much controversy.

Smith was earnest when she declared that she wasn’t marrying the billionaire for his money. She explained that Marshall had been begging her for more than four years to get married to him, but Smith wanted first to establish her career and make her own money.


Many have described Smith as a gold-digger due to her marriage to a rich man that was six decades older than her. New York Magazine seemed to have called out Smith by placing her on its front cover along with the “White Trash Nation” headline.

Smith was understandably upset because the magazine originally advised she was to be portrayed as an all-American girl wearing cowboy boots and eating potato chips. She sued the magazine for the damage it inflicted on her reputation.

Norma Jean Part Two

During the early years of Anna Nicole Smith’s career as an exotic dancer, she made sure she channeled Marilyn Monroe. When she became a celebrity, she brought Monroe’s movies anywhere she went. For an anti-fur campaign organized by PETA, she dressed up as Monroe in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

However, similar to Marilyn, the two lived very short lives. While Marilyn and Anna Nicole were charismatic and outgoing, Norma Jean—Marilyn’s real name – and Vicki Lynn were quiet and isolated. This introversion seemed to give both actresses an air of extra mystique.

Marshall Was The Wind Beneath Her Wings

Although Anna Nicole Smith and her husband, J. Howard Marshall dated for a few years, and the marriage lasted thirteen months. Before Marshall died in 1995, Smith was only allowed by his children to visit the hospital for 30 minutes each day.

A bodyguard also accompanied Smith during her hospital visits. Smith wore a white dress during the funeral while singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Understandably, the family might have been upset by the age gap between Marshall and the gorgeous woman in her 20s.

Court Battles

After Marshall died, it was discovered that Smith was not included in his will. However, Smith claimed that Marshall promised to give her half of his estate. Evidently, Marshall’s children were not pleased with such an arrangement as the billionaire owned 16% of Koch Industries’ $1.6 billion value.

The case Marshall v. Marshall was initially tried in 2001 at a Texas probate court. During the proceedings, Smith never spoke ill of her late husband. She also said Marshall “ never looked down at me.”

Manipulative Bombshell

Due to her image as a blonde bombshell, it was difficult for her to be taken seriously in court. The case dragged on for years and reached the Supreme Court. Prosecutor Rusty Hardin, who was working for Marshall’s son, called Smith “Miss Marshall” instead of the proper “Mrs.” to belittle and undermine her.

She was also made out to be a manipulative predator. After a long, drawn-out battle, the jury favored Marshall’s children and ruled against Smith. This devastated Smith.

Anna Nicole As An Actor

Though Anna Nicole Smith was a successful model, she also wanted to try her hand at acting the same way her idol Marilyn Monroe did. In 1994 she debuted in the movie The Hudsucker Proxy, where she played a celebrity named Za-Za.

She also starred in Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult, as well as in 1996’s To the Limit. However, these roles are hardly memorable, and she was generally typecast as a shallow bombshell rather than a full-blown actress.

Tabloids Fodder

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Anna Nicole Smith’s modeling and acting jobs decreased. However, she did appear in a slew of talk shows. Essentially, Smith was a reality star before reality stars were in vogue.

She also profited from her persona the same way current social media influencers do. However, she was heavily criticized for her weight and her addiction. Tabloids added salt to injury by comparing her Guess pictures with her present-day images, thereby tormenting Smith’s weight-related transformation.

The Party Girl

It seems Anna Nicole Smith was publicly grieving after the death of her husband, J. Howard Marshall. She attended lots of parties and moved in with Ray Martino—her director in the 1995 movie, To the Limit. She also gained weight and further became addicted to painkillers.

She also declared bankruptcy and distanced herself from her family. She may have tried to soothe her pain by partying with Hollywood stars Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Roseanne Barr. But it was clear to just about everyone that she was internally struggling.

The Anna Nicole Reality Show

When E! offered Anna Nicole Smith a reality TV show, she accepted, and the rest was reality show history. Titled The Anna Nicole Show, the series showed the world her life, pets, and her relationship with her friend and attorney, Howard Stern.

Her show became the highest-rated reality show on cable at the time. Also featured in the series was Daniel, Smith’s son, and Kimmie Walther, her assistant. However, it was evident that Smith was struggling in life during the show’s filming.

Childhood Came Late

Every time Anna Nicole Smith was asked how her childhood was, she would say that she didn’t have a childhood and thus was living her childhood now. All children who grow up in poverty understand that they have to grow up fast or get wiped out.

For her, being in the spotlight fulfilled a lot of her childhood dreams. Later on, her aunt would tell the story of how they would go to a restaurant to steal toilet paper because they could not afford to buy any.

Animal Lover

Anna Nicole Smith was not just a sweet country girl—she was also a staunch animal lover. She posed for many of PETA’s campaigns over the course of her life. This picture shows her dressed as Marilyn Monroe while cuddling her little dogs.

Her pets were also prominently featured in her reality show. She had a white Maltese, a black Poodle, and two Shih Tzus. Smith was very vocal against acts of animal cruelty and made it a point to promote animal welfare.

The Effects Of Stress

Anna Nicole Smith went through a lot to get to where she was. From being a tomboy to a blonde femme fatale, Smith came a long way from her poverty-stricken past. However, she showed signs of crumbling teeth and poor health due to her painkiller addiction, as well as the stress of attending court hearings.

In one specific episode of her reality show, she had 20 of her teeth capped. Evidently, growing up in a traumatic household like the one Anna Nicole lived through can have long-lasting effects on a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

TrimSpa Works?

Anna Nicole Smith had weight issues early on in her career. She was deemed overweight when she was a dancer but managed to get the job because of her natural beauty. She also went through liposuction throughout her life. But her fluctuating weight became fodder for tabloids and gossip magazines.

Her partnership with TrimSpa in 2003 reportedly resulted in her losing 70 pounds. But the company and Smith were accused of deceiving the public. Did she simply undergo more liposuction procedures?

Anna Nicole’s Mother

Reports vary about Anna Nicole’s relationship with her mother. Some claimed the two were estranged, while others described Anna Nicole’s family as exploiting her. However, Smith’s own mother denied such issues and said she remained in communication with her daughter.

However, Smith’s mother noticed the stark difference between Vickie Lynn and her alter ego, Anna Nicole, and any of her other kids. According to the mother, there was an obvious difference. She further explained, “It was hard to approve of anything Vickie did because she was so different from any of my other children.”

Anna’s Pregnancy

Due to the plastic surgeries and dieting that Anna Nicole went through, her appearance changed frequently. When all her pictures are laid out, it is difficult to arrange them chronologically as her face never appears old.

But in 2006, she was seen in an online video looking slimmer. In it, she announced her pregnancy. She also expressed her happiness about her situation and that, “Everything’s goin’ really, really good.”

The Love Of Her Life

The model was deeply in love with her son. She called him her “number one cowboy.” Still, it was difficult for Smith to provide her son with a stable life at home despite her best efforts to do so.

Daniel found it difficult to deal with his peers’ comments about his mother’s reality show. He hid her medication and went out at night without informing her. When Smith announced her pregnancy, she also confessed that she wanted to be pregnant “before Daniel leaves me.”

Gaining And Losing A Child

Believe it or not, Anna Nicole Smith’s son died at the same time she gave birth to her daughter Hannah Rose. Daniel was 20 years old when he was pictured with her mom and infant sister. He died because of an overdose.

Anna Nicole Smith discovered her son was no longer breathing. She was understandably devastated and was never able to recover from the loss fully. It’s an utterly tragic experience, losing your child—at any age.

The Paternity of Anna Nicole’s Daughter

Hannah Rose Marshall Stern was the name given to Smith’s daughter, born in 2006. There was a scuffle over Hannah’s paternity as two men claimed they were the child’s rightful father. Was it Howard Stern, the long-time friend of Smith, or was it her photographer, Larry Birkhead?

Eventually, DNA tests and a slew of lawsuits settled the score. As it turns out, Birkhead was the father and was able to gain custody of the child. Hannah is pictured with Birkhead on the left and her grandma on the right.

Dealing With Emotional Death

Anna Nicole Smith loved her son so much. She was devastated at his passing. During the funeral, Smith attempted to climb inside the coffin while exclaiming that she wanted to be buried with her son.

According to Stern, her friend and partner, Anna Nicole, experienced emotional death when Daniel passed. She further descended to darkness. The weight of it all must have been utterly crushing.

Mrs. Stern

Howard Stern was constantly seen in The Anna Nicole Show. He claimed they had been in a relationship for a long time. The two officially became a couple when they tied the knot in 2006 off the Bahamas coast.

A spokesman for the newly married husband and wife claimed that Smith and Stern needed an escape from the hectic and utterly tragic events that had recently occurred in their lives.

An Early End

Unfortunately, Anna Nicole Smith’s story abruptly ended when she died in 2007. She was only 39 years old. She reportedly consumed sleeping medication from a baby bottle. She was also unable to care for her newborn baby due to the grief she felt from her son’s death.

Her own passing was officially declared to have resulted from an overdose. Sadly, her body was shown all over the tabloids. Though Vicki Lynn Hogan was able to escape the poverty she grew up with, she was unable to outgrow her demons.

Tabloid Fodder

The tabloids had a field day with the model’s death. Similar to the passing of other celebrity figures, it was not seen as a human tragedy but as tabloid fodder. Newspapers had no qualms publishing images of her body as well as private pictures of her last moments with Daniel.

Oddly, Stern and two of Anna Nicole’s doctors were charged with felonies in 2009. All of them pleaded not guilty. Out of the eleven drugs in her system at the time of her overdose, eight of them had been prescribed for Stern and not Smith.

The Legacy Left By Anna Nicole Smith

The short and tragic life of Anna Nicole Smith contains many lessons. It highlights the way the media treats famous women struggling with addiction. In a similar way to how Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse were treated, these women were seen as sideshows more than human beings with their own very real struggles.

Smith was a reality TV pioneer. She was famous before the Kardashians, or Paris Hilton took the spotlight. There will likely never be another personality or soul like hers. She was a one-of-a-kind star, one who burned too brightly too fast.