That she’s dead comes as no shock. It was only a matter of time, especially in hindsight. Anna Nicole Smith (or Vickie Lynn Hogan, as she was born) was from a poor little town in Texas. Looks and big tits got her in the pages of Playboy, and it was all downhill from there. She made headlines for marrying an 89 year-old billionaire, then taking his children to court for her share of the fortune after he died. When her fame as a model and infamy as a gold-digger dissipated, she had a brief revival as a reality TV star. By then she was overweight and obviously medicated, a joke of a former self that was never all that serious to begin with. Even after she lost the weight, she was never anything more than a punchline.
When she was a little girl, it is said, she told people she wanted to be the next Marilyn Monroe. With her death (seemingly drug related, as police reportedly found a personal pharmacy in her hotel room), the comparisons to Marilyn will be inevitable. Some are valid — both were voluptuous blondes, both were definitive sex symbols of their generations (though Anna Nicole’s shelf-life proved far briefer than Marilyn’s), neither was appreciated especially for her brains — others less so. For every parallel between them there is a matching contrast. Both were on the cover of Playboy, but Marilyn only after she’d become a star, in an attempt by the magazine to boost its profile; before her first pictorial, Anna Nicole was nobody. Once she caught on with Playboy’s, um, readers, they made no pretense about sculpting her into the next Monroe: her hair was dyed platinum blonde, she was photographed in (and eventually out of) clothes meant to echo Marilyn’s famous wardrobe, she even made a few pitiful stabs at a film career. But that exposed the greatest contrast between the two: where Marilyn possessed some sense of comic timing and was actually a decent actress, poor Anna Nicole didn’t have a talented bone in her body. Her brief appearances in films like The Hudsucker Proxy and Naked Gun 33⅓ were forgettable, and even that’s being kind. Later, on her reality show, she demonstrated all the charisma of an elephant seal on Xanax.
Despite the fame and the money, she seems to have had a lonesome, dismal life. She was never married for very long; the only stable relationship in her life was with her son Daniel, who died this past September from a drug overdose. Her need for love and acceptance was sometimes so obvious and urgent that it became uncomfortable to watch. It seems her formative years in Mexia, Texas left her insufficiently prepared for life as a public spectacle. On the drive back from class this morning I remembered watching the first episode of her reality show, when a relative from Texas came to visit Anna Nicole. It was revealed before too long that the woman’s only reason for coming to see her famous relation was to beg for money, which Anna awkwardly insisted she did not have. Thinking back on it now, the whole episode seems terribly sad.