Virgie Mae Tabers, Smith's mother, was only 16 when she was born. By age 17, Smith -- similar to her mother -- was married with a new baby boy named Daniel and working in a fried chicken stand. Smith's marriage to Billy Wayne Smith, who was only 16 when the couple married, didn't last long and she soon got a better-paying job as a stripper.
When she was 23, Smith met an octogenarian billionaire named J. Howard Marshall, who had a fondness for strippers -- and who developed a particular fondness for Smith. Marshall helped her effort to become a Playboy model in 1992... and eventually Playmate of the Year in June 1993. Although she had originally posed under the name "Vickie Smith," Smith had become "Anna Nicole Smith" by that time.
In 1994, when he was 89 and she was 26, Marshall and Smith were married. When asked about it at the time, Smith was quoted as saying, "Nobody has ever respected me and done things for me and loved me. So when Howard came along, it was a blessing."
Unfortunately for Smith, right after marrying her, Marshall approved an estate plan that transferred almost all of his assets to a trust for his children. Although he lavished millions of dollars of gifts on her, he died about a year after the marriage, and the couple reportedly never lived together.
Shortly after Marshall's death, Smith became a national celebrity, serving as a model for Guess? jeans. However, less than two years later, Smith had filed for bankruptcy in California. The bankruptcy court took jurisdiction over Smith's claim against Marshall's estate, realizing that it was her most important asset. Marshall's heir, his son E. Pierce Marshall, argued that this claim should be solely adjudicated in probate court in Texas and feuded with the judge throughout the trial, which led to much of his evidence being excluded by the judge as a sanction.
In 2000, the bankruptcy judge awarded Smith $474 million from the estate, claiming that Marshall's son's actions had deprived her of this amount. However, in 2001, the Texas probate court ruled the Marshall's estate plan was valid and had not resulted from undue influence by his son. He awarded Smith nothing and assessed her $1 million in costs.
A federal district court subsequently cut Smith's bankruptcy award to $89 million, and in 2004, a federal appeals court reduced her award to zero, holding that the Texas court's finding meant that she would not have received any money from the estate and should preempt the bankruptcy finding. Subsequently, the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which revived Smith's claim in a 2006 decision entitled Marshall v. Marshall (Smith's legal name had remained Vickie Lynn Marshall) that overruled the appeals court's preemption argument but held out little hope that she would actually receive any money from Marshall's estate in the continuing litigation.
In 2002, Smith became the star of one of reality television's earliest celebrity reality shows, the Emmy-nominated The Anna Nicole Show on the E! network. The show debuted to huge ratings but lost its audience quickly and was cancelled in its second season, with Smith's bizarre antics appearing to turn viewers off.
After the Supreme Court decision in 2006, Smith's life became even more bizarre, although that might have seemed impossible. In June, she announced that she was pregnant but declined to reveal the identity of her unborn child's father.
Also in June, E. Pierce Marshall died. His heirs announced their intention to continue the lawsuit related to the bankruptcy court decision and said that they would never settle with Smith.
On September 7, Smith gave birth to daughter Daniellynn in the Bahamas. Three days later, her son Daniel, who was now 20, died of an overdose in her hospital room.
In September, Smith went on CNN's Larry King Liveto declare that her attorney, Howard K. Stern, was the baby's father. However, her ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, also claimed to be the father and filed a lawsuit to establish paternity. In response, Smith remained in the Bahamas, where she claimed to own property (which would permit her to gain citizenship there and thus duck Birkhead's lawsuit).
Subsequently, it turned out that the house in which Smith was staying, which she claimed to own when applying for Bahamian citizenship, belonged to U.S. real estate developer G. Ben Thompson. Smith claimed that he'd given her the house out of gratitude for a prior sexual relationship, however Thompson denied any transfer of ownership and ultimately had her evicted. It also was reported that a Bahamian government minister had been paid $10,000 to "fast-track" her application for citizenship.
In the wake of this controversy, Smith's application for citizenship in the Bahamas was denied, and she ended up returning to the US, where she faced both the paternity suit and a lawsuit regarding her endorsement of TrimSpa. However, for her, worries about these lawsuits are now over.
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