Tragic Hero: Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, the father abandoned the family when she was very young and was thus brought up by different family members. Nicole dropped out of school after she failed her ninth grade, and was to start working as a waitress in order to support herself. She got married at the age of seventeen to a sixteen-year-old teen, had a song, but the marriage didn’t last long. Nicole had to find means of taking care of her son, and hence she took up a variety of jobs, including working at Wal-Mart, Red Lobster and also as an exotic dancer (Wallace, et al. 43). During her time as a dancer, Nicole met and married Howard Marshall, who was sixty-three years older than her. During this time, Nicole had become famous and was elected as the 1993 Playmate of the Year (Wallace, et al. 43). Although Marshall was in a wheelchair during the wedding, he said that “he would be happy if he could spend his money on Smith” (Kever & Feldman, 3). Unfortunately, Marshall died just over a year into the marriage. Marshall was a wealthy man, and his death initiated a legal battle between Nicole and Marshall’s son, James Howard, for the $1.6 billion estates (Wallace, et al. 43). After the death of her husband, Nicole once again returned to fame when she became the public face of the TrimSpa diet method. She also had her own reality show named The Anna Nicole Smith Show. This show “largely put her and her close relations on display like prescription-drugged zoo animals” (Wallace, et al. 43).
Nicole got pregnant in 2006 and in September that year, her daughter Dannielynn Hope was born. Daniel Smith, her first child, died the same year shortly after Hope was born. He died in a hospital visiting his mother and sister. It was later revealed through the autopsy that Smith had died as a result of a lethal combination of Lexapro, Zoloft, and methadone (Wallace, et al. 44). Anna Nicole died in 2007 in her hotel room in Florida. Autopsy results showed that she died as a result of a lethal combination of sleeping pills and other drugs in her system (Wallace, et al. 44). At the time of her death, Nicole was 39. Nicole’s story is complex and is one that is characterized by “big hair, big breasts, big money, and big tragedy” (Kever & Feldman, 2).
Although Nicole had become a big celebrity, she had no reason for acclaim and was known to be clueless and oblivious to anything (Kever & Feldman, 1). Her celebrity status, however, came at a cost. She was a psychosexual symbol who was paid large sums of money to “be the object of 13-year-olds’ masturbatory fantasies and paid even more to be the kept woman of an ancient billionaire” (Wallace, et al. 44). Many have claimed that her marriage to Marshall, the ancient billionaire, was never an act of love but the love for money. This explains why the term gold-digger was used often when referring to her marriage to the billionaire. Her love for sex and money tainted her name. This is well illustrated by the fact that during her second pregnancy in 2006, a number of men came forward claiming paternity (Wallace, et al. 44). Just a year before she died, Nicole had spoken about how she was physically and sexually abused as a child. She claimed to be have been raped many times by family members yet her mother did nothing to stop it. She further stated that her mother beat her repeatedly until she had to live home. Throughout her life, her relationship with her mother was sour. Her private life was revealed more to the public after her death through her diaries. For instance, she claimed in one of the diaries to have loved Marshall greatly, and hated sex.
Nicole’s death did not surprise some, especially those who knew her and the life she led. For instance, Matthew Felling, who worked at the Centre for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, claimed that “She was a celeb who always seemed on the verge of disaster” (Kever & Feldman, 1). She was an ‘exhibitionist’ who led a self-destructing life. Her fame was as a result of her being strange, and this meant that she was walking on thin ice. For many, it was a matter of time before something tragic happened to her. Despite the widespread criticism of her and the life she led, there are those whose lives identified with her. It is also claimed that her behavior is similar to that of most sexually abused survivors. “Much of her adult behavior is textbook for survivors of sexual abuse” (Wallace, et al. 44). The life of Nicole Smith is one that reminds people of not only how celebrity status can ruin one’s life but also how poor upbringing contributes to one’s adult life.
Kever, Jeannie, and Feldman, Claudia. “Anna Nicole Smiths’s life and death is a tabloid tale.” Houston Chronicle. 9 February 2007. Pp. 1-4
Wallace, Irving et al. “Sex Symbols.” The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People. Washington: Feral House, 2008. Pp. 1-45. Print