Vickie Lynn Marshall (November 28, 1967 – February 8, 2007), better known under the stage name of Anna Nicole Smith, was an American model, sex symbol, actress and television personality. She first gained popularity in Playboy, becoming the 1993 Playmate of the Year. She modeled for clothing companies, including Guess jeans and Lane Bryant. She also starred in her own reality TV show, The Anna Nicole Show.
Born and raised in Texas, Smith dropped out of high school and was married at the age of 17. Her highly publicized second 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.
She died at age 39, apparently as a result of an overdose of prescription drugs. In the months before her death, she was the focus of renewed press coverage surrounding the death of her son, Daniel Smith, and the paternity and custody battle over her daughter Dannielynn.
A major turning point in Smith's career was in 1992. It was then her 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". Becoming one of Playboy's most popular models, Smith was heavier and larger than the typical Playboy model. 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.
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.
A photograph of Smith was used by New York magazine on the cover of its August 22, 1994 issue titled White Trash Nation. In the photo, she appears squatting in a short skirt and cowboy boots as she eats chips. In October 1994, Smith's lawyer initiated a $5,000,000 lawsuit against the magazine claiming unauthorized use of her photo and that the article had damaged her reputation. Her lawyer said that Smith was told she was being photographed to embody the "all-American-woman look", and that they wanted glamor shots. He further stated that the picture used was taken for fun during a break.
Death and funeral
On February 8, 2007, Smith was found unresponsive in room 607 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Tasma Brighthaupt, a friend of Smith who was a trained emergency nurse performed CPR for 15 minutes until her husband, Maurice "Big Moe" Brighthaupt, Smith's friend and bodyguard took over CPR. He had frantically driven back to the hotel after being notified by his wife of Smith's condition. According to Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger, at 1:38 p.m. (18:38 UTC) Maurice Brighthaupt, who was also a trained paramedic, called the hotel front desk from her sixth floor room. The front desk in turn called security, who then called 911. At 1:45 p.m. the bodyguard administered CPR until paramedics arrived and she was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital at 2:10 p.m and pronounced dead on arrival at 2:49 p.m.
A phone call was released to the public on February 13, 2007 involving Seminole police and the local 911 operators, saying:
We need assistance to Room 607 at the Hard Rock. It's in reference to a white female. She's not breathing and not responsive...actually, it's Anna Nicole Smith.
After a seven-week investigation led by Broward County Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Joshua Perper in combination with the Seminole police and several independent forensic pathologists and toxicologists, Dr. Perper announced that Smith died of "combined drug intoxication" with the sleeping medication chloral hydrate as the "major component." No illegal drugs were found in her system. The official report states that her death was not considered to be due to homicide, suicide, or natural causes. The full investigative report has been made public and can be found online. Additionally, an official copy of the autopsy report was publicly released on March 26, 2007 and can be found online.
Ultimately her death was ruled an accidental drug overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate that became increasingly lethal when combined with other prescription drugs in her system, specifically 4 benzodiazepines: Klonopin (Clonazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Serax (Oxazepam), and Valium (Diazepam). Furthermore, she had taken Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Topamax (Toprimate), an anticonvulsant GABA agonist, which likely contributed to the sedative effect of chloral hydrate and the benzodiazepines. Although the individual levels of any of the benzodiazepines in her system would not have been sufficient to cause death, their combination with a high dose of chloral hydrate led to her overdose. The autopsy report indicates that chloral hydrate was the "toxic/lethal" drug, but it is difficult to know if chloral hydrate ingestion would have killed her alone, since Dr. Perper indicated (in the March 26 press conference) that she had built up a tolerance to the drug and took more than the average person. He indicated that she took about 3 tablespoons, whereas the normal dosage is between 1 and 2 teaspoons. Chloral hydrate, first synthesized in 1832, was the first depressant developed for the specific purpose of inducing sleep. The infamous “Mickey Finn” or “knockout drops” was a solution of alcohol and chloral hydrate that was popular in Victorian England and in that era’s literature. When used properly, and without the introduction of alcohol or other depressants, chloral hydrate is effective in easing sleeplessness due to pain or insomnia. But according to Avis (1990) the effective dose and lethal dose of chloral hydrate are so close that the sedative should be considered dangerous. Today, the use of chloral hydrate has declined as other agents, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines, have largely replaced them. Despite rumors of methadone use due to its involvement in her son's death, Dr. Perper only found methadone in her bile, indicating that it could only have been ingested 2–3 days prior to her death and was not a contributing factor. The autopsy report indicates that abscesses on her buttocks (presumably from prior injections of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and human growth hormone), and viral enteritis were contributory causes of death. Tests for influenza A and B were negative.
It was reported that 8 of the 11 drugs in Smith's system, including the chloral hydrate, were prescribed to Howard K. Stern, not Smith. Additionally, two of the prescriptions were written for Alex Katz and one was written for Smith's friend and psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Eroshevitz. Dr. Perper acknowledged that all 11 prescriptions were written by Dr. Eroshevitz herself.
Before Smith's body was buried, it began decomposing at a faster-than-normal pace. The drugs found in Anna Nicole's body in the autopsy, the fact that the legal battles delayed her embalming until over a week after her death, and the nearly month-long wait for her burial in the warm Bahama weather, were cited as possible factors in her more rapid decomposition. The family ended up having a closed-casket funeral.
Smith's will, drawn up in April 2001, named her son Daniel as the sole beneficiary of her estate, specifically excluded other children, and named Howard K. Stern as the executor. It indicated personal property valued at $10,000 and real property valued at $1.8 million (with a $1.1 million mortgage) at the time of death. A petition to probate Smith's will was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The petition to probate lists Larry Birkhead as a party with interest to Anna's estate. Legal battles may not end there. On April 2, 2009 Us Weekly reported that Anna Nicole's father Donald Hogan is considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Stern. Hogan was quoted as saying that while he blames Stern in Anna Nicole's death, he doesn't care "if [he] get[s] a dime out of [the lawsuit]."
A six-foot-tall black granite monument was installed at Smith's grave in the Bahamas, as of February 2009.